The Surprising Reason We Get Marriage Couselling

Yep.  We go to counselling.

I spent 10 years in the dating world searching for and imagining my perfect husband.  Justin spent 3 years married to someone else before he married me.  And he’s never casually dated.  Ever.  (how we ended up together is a whole other story for another day.)

Needless to say, we each bring our own history and relational dynamics to our marriage.

So there we are in a counselling session. We sit awkwardly holding hands on faded floral couches with our McDonald’s drive-through coffees. The vertical blinds in the room are tilted just enough to let the daylight in, but not enough to expose our identity.  Like counselling is something to be secret or shameful.  The room is quiet.

Side note here, friends… counselling should not be shameful!!!!  It should be celebrated and cheered for. Appropriately, of course. But it’s not shameful.

When someone is engaged in counselling, it means they’re engaged in their life and that they want to make progress toward wise, meaningful life-choices.  

Why are we embarrassed to need counsel or coaching? Are we ashamed to be seeking support? Ashamed that we want healthier relationships?

I used to be surprised by people’s reaction when I told them Justin and I go to counselling. “Really? Why? What’s wrong?”  with concerned intonations. 

The truth is, nothing.  Nothing is wrong.

We don’t go to counselling because we have a weak marriage.  We go to counselling to build a strong one.

We’ve gone as often as monthly, to as spread out as every 6-8 months.  To a professional.  With a PhD.  

What does that look like?  We sit down and talk with someone much smarter and much wiser than us about how to have a healthy relationship.

Through counselling, Justin and I get to

  • understand how our past impacts our present.
  • learn the other’s needs in ways we don’t normally talk about.
  • get an outside perspective to help us see beyond ourselves. 
  • dream about our future and what we hope our marriage and family will look like 2, 5 or 10 years down the road.  
  • explore what emotional intelligence looks like in our relationship.  (it’s a valuable thing, let me tell you! More coming on this later.)

And you know what the best part of counselling has been? Someone leading us through how to have those important, meaningful conversations day to day.  

What we have learned in counselling hasn’t stayed there. It’s given us tangible tools to build a strong marriage.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit… not all counsellors are the same and they’re not one-size-fits-all. Each one brings a unique approach, education and skill set to the table. There are even life coaches that tangibly support you to achieve future goals and ambitions.

One counsellor might not be very helpful… but that doesn’t mean all counsellors are not helpful.  The next one could lead to a major breakthrough.

I have ALSO been to a counsellor when everything was NOT ok.

Because there are just times when I need more help and guidance than tea with a good friend can offer. (and I love my wisdom-filled tea or coffee dates!)

Good counselling costs less than stress-leave, sick-leave or divorce.

And frankly, life’s too short to live in pain when help is out there.

In North America, why does it seem more acceptable to pay for physical health with a gym membership but not for mental and emotional health with a counselling session?

Either way, the responsibility is still on you and I.  

Showing up at the gym without exercising doesn’t make us any healthier than buying an apple and watching it rot. Same with counselling, we have to show up and engage. 

I actually think we all need counselling. Because we’re all human. We’ve all been hurt or broken or confused by someone or something. And there is hope. 

I just wish it was more socially acceptable.  

So, let’s get over the shame of counselling and celebrate the pursuit of healthy, meaningful relationships and lives!

Want more practical insight into what counselling is like?  A friend and excellent local counsellor, Jordan Mason, is interviewing us over on his blog this week (Wednesday!). Check it out.

What about you? How do you feel about counselling?


Looking for counselling or coaching?

Here are some great professionals we recommend based on personal experience in the Barrie and Orillia area:

Next Step Counselling | Barrie & Orillia

Mason Counselling | Barrie

Dan Barber Coaching | Orillia

 

Sarah

Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.

20 Comments

  1. jayne March 27, 2017

    This was SO great!!

  2. Erin MacFadyen March 27, 2017

    I like this post Sarah! Would love to read more about when everything was NOT okay. I think that should be shameless as well 🙂

    1. Sarah March 27, 2017

      Absolutely, Erin! More on this to come in the future 🙂

  3. Andrew March 27, 2017

    Your right Sarah it really should not be shameful and actually it is a very wise thing to do. Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed the read and your insight.

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      Thank you Andrew!

  4. rose zacharias meeder March 27, 2017

    Love your blog post. I can hear your voice in my head…just like I’ve just had a great chat with you. Love what you guys are doing! Keep it up!

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      I love that Rose… that’s the goal 🙂 Thank you so much.

  5. RDG March 27, 2017

    Smart!

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      Thanks!

  6. Catherine March 27, 2017

    Agreed! Everyone needs counselling along the way at some point. I’ve discovered it’s not weak people who seek out help and counselling it’s the strong. And they are stronger for it! I’ve had individual and couples counselling along my life journey and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Thanks for sharing Sarah!

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      I absolutely agree, Catherine. Change takes strength. And it’s so worth it.

  7. Toni Nieuwhof March 28, 2017

    I agree that good Counselling is well worth the time, effort and cost. Far less costly than divorce! And a marriage that thrives…priceless!!

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      True!! Thanks Toni 🙂

  8. L.A. Doyle C.P.C. March 28, 2017

    Marriage counseling is about keeping perspective through God’s lens. Building a greater capacity to truly love, continually forgive and adjust to life’s bumps in the road happens with intentional application and much practice. Counseling hones skills degree by degree, it also emphasizes pace taking into account each unique personality and past experience. Managing expectations of self and others relieves undo stress and brings honesty to the relationship, counseling supports this process. Goodness of fit with the counselor accounts for 85% of the success, 15% is the therapeutic model used. Good counseling challenges couples to get out of ruts and grow into their potential together.
    Thank you for encouraging emotional and marital fitness.

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      LA that’s such good insight… thank you so much for sharing. I find this pretty amazing: “Goodness of fit with the counselor accounts for 85% of the success, 15% is the therapeutic model used. “

  9. Sondra Audia March 28, 2017

    Honestly, the best money that Tony and I spend every 5-6 weeks is for counseling and now life coaching. It is the best decision we ever made. The results are incredible and a transformation of oneself for the absolute better. I am definitely not one to be ashamed of the fact that I was counseled for a year (which was monthly) and now I do life coaching every 5-6 weeks. It has helped not only me personally, but also my marriage, our little family that God has blessed us with and all relationships and connections I have made and will continue to make.

    If someone asked me if they should go for counseling, I would say,”YES! DO IT!!!!” (I need to get a megaphone) lol

    1. Sarah March 28, 2017

      Wow Sondra – love that! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  10. Julie Harmsworth March 28, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us. I believe most people think that if you are in counselling there is something wrong. To be proactive and seek out ways to keep your marriage and/or relationships stronger is wise and a valuable tool especially in today’s society where many marriages sadly erode.

  11. Meg March 31, 2017

    LOVE this post. I totally agree that counciling shouldn’t be seemed as shameful. Where getting relationship/marriage counciling or getting personal counciling I think it all helps us build ourselves up and make our daily life and relationships stronger. I also think people need to stop viewing counciling as something they do when they’re “in trouble” or in a bad spot. It’s something we should be doing to keep things great as well.

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