I recall vividly the first few sessions I had with my counselor when I was telling her that my marriage was failing, and I think it’s really over between my partner and me. I sought counseling on my own because I didn’t even have the courage or the eagerness to invite my partner to come with me. My counselor then allowed me to open up to her and express my sadness, frustration, and disappointment. There was very little hope left in me, and Alba, my counselor, was merely there to be a sounding board to listen to the whole gamut of feelings and issues that I had.
After a few months of counseling, I slowly instilled hope in myself, and I decided to ask my partner if he was willing to try and fix our marriage. Surprisingly, he wanted to. That was the beginning of the end of our constant blaming and arguing. We eventually came to look forward to our visits with Alba, as everything we learned about forgiving, understanding, and accepting, we learned from counseling.
One crucial thing that I want to share with you is that my partner and I – just like you and your partner – have numerous differences. Perhaps like us, you too will come to learn how to recognize and embrace each other’s differences.
Below are some things that I learned about my partner:
- His Way Of Communicating. We have our unique ways of connecting with others, both close to us and those with whom we are just establishing relationships. We communicate with each other, and how we deal with our partners and their desires is vital in keeping a positive and healthy marriage.
- His Way Of Handling Conflict. As with communication style, we have various ways of handling conflict, but often we don’t exert enough effort and time to understand how our partners deal with conflict. In couples counseling, the third party (the counselor) observes and determines methods to handle conflict and meet each other halfway to avoid misunderstanding.
- He Is Not Perfect. You might be wondering, “It’s obvious why they need to see a counselor.” However, we frequently have high standards for our partners that we do not even extend them with the patience and kindness that they have earned. In our sessions, I realized that my partner is not perfect, but so am I. But despite the imperfection, we must only find ways to fill each other’s flaws so that the marriage is ‘perfectly’ established.
- Differences Are Not Insufficiencies. I sometimes hear people say that they are the exact opposite of their partner. Realistically, we are all uniquely and wonderfully made. My partner and I have distinct personalities, beliefs, and values, as we were raised from different backgrounds. We committed to work through our various personalities and learned strategies to help us avoid conflict.
- He Has His Own Love Language. My partner knows that he easily sways me when he buys me plants to add to my garden, and a short back massage can change my most unpleasant mood. A healthy serving of my baked chicken with gravy, on the other hand, pacifies him. Indeed, my partner and I have a different love language, and I am thankful that we learned that through counseling.
- We Don’t Connect In The Same Way. As a couple, we often struggle to look for ways to connect, which was a major factor that led to conflict. Through counseling, I learned that my partner would rather talk it out in person because he hates texting or chatting, but I don’t really mind if I talk with him on the phone for hours. It seems that I can’t get enough of him when he’s not home!
- He Has Other Priorities – And That’s Okay. Going to my parents’ house on weekends is a priority for me outside of my marriage. However, my partner makes it a point to go fishing twice a week, and I used to find it impractical and costly. I learned, though, that it was his way of relaxing and spending time for himself. It keeps his mental and physical well-being at bay.
- He Needs Me For Most Things. Before we went to counseling, I always thought my partner was too clingy and dependent on me. However, I didn’t think I was too selfish when I obliged him to keep me company when I went shopping because I didn’t want to drive – and he does it anyway. Counseling helped us realize that we had different needs from each other and whether they were relatively simple or complicated, they are needs that we both can provide as partners – because we loved and respected each other.
Couples counseling has played a tremendous role in saving my marriage and helping my partner and me establish a healthy and positive relationship. Are you having problems with your marriage? Try to consult a counselor in your area. He might be what you and your partner need.