A marriage counselor asks questions in order to evaluate a couple’s relationship to one another. Therapists say that the success or failure of a marriage normally depends on how couples deal with the issues in their lives. While counseling can help couples learn how to cope with their problems more effectively, the goal of marriage counseling is to help the partners in a relationship find ways to prevent small problems from escalating into bigger troubles. But according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), there is often a huge difference between how couples talk to each other and how they communicate. The kinds of questions a therapist asks is intended to help determine how each partner might be contributing to the problems in the marriage. Because the character of individual couples tends to be different, the specific questions which counselors ask couples may differ as well.
How often do you share your true feelings with each other? Being able to communicate is critical to any relationship. Unfortunately, some couples find it difficult to say what they really mean. The problem is that men and women tend to communicate differently. A counselor may begin by asking each spouse if he ever feels misunderstood by the other. In some cases, one spouse may blame the actions of the other for the difficulties in the marriage. When talking always seems to end up in an argument, communication between couples can become hostile. A couple may also reach the point where they begin to avoid each other. Even so, better communication can draw couples closer together. In her book, “The Walk Out Woman,” the author, Alice Gray, explains that sometimes a woman is so focused on her spouse’s shortcomings that she fails to see how her own actions might be contributing to a problem. Ms. Gray suggests that when this happens, you should take a minute and ask yourself, “What’s it like being married to me?”
Strengths and Weaknesses
What do you consider to be your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses? A marriage counselor may ask whether you feel that you are getting enough from the relationship. She may probe deeper by asking what it is that each of you expects from the other. According to a study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” couples that have realistic expectations about their spouses are less likely to get divorced. If you love your spouse despite his faults, you are likely to have a happier marriage, especially when you understand and accept his differences.
What keeps you together? Data compiled by the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that while the number of divorces has declined in recent years, about 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. will still end in divorce. Marriage counselors explain that couples who are not afraid to express their feelings to each other and who learn to channel their anger in constructive ways are usually more successful at getting past their disagreements. They say that partners who are committed to each other make their relationship a priority. These couples discuss their problems openly, and can usually decide on a practical solution together.
Head of Household
Who has the power in your family? How authority is organized or delegated in a household can lead to issues of control. Marriage experts say that while power struggles are inevitable in any marriage, trouble arises when neither partner is willing to compromise. Most couples are perfectly happy with winning some arguments and losing others. However, if one spouse has a more aggressive personality, it may seem like there is no backing down. There are some people who just always have to be right. When two strong personalities go up against each other, arguments often become more about winning than resolving the original conflict. In an article featured in the summer 2007 issue of “Marriage Partnership Magazine,” the author points out that when couples listen and respect each other’s points of view, both can come out winners.
What kinds of things cause stress in your relationship? When it comes to asking couples what causes stress in their marriages, money is frequently named as the No. 1 problem. Data collected from a 2008 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that women are more likely to report stress related to a family’s financial situation. Since survey results indicate that more women than men worry about the general cost of living, couples who do not share similar financial goals often find themselves having problems.