Throughout life, our personal and family relationships give us both joy and challenges. The more we understand ourselves, our emotions, and behaviors, the better we can communicate, manage stress, and function effectively around the important people in our lives, including our spouse. A marital relationship between two people is one of the most significant relationships a person will have in their lives. Every marriage has its ups and downs, or periods of highs and lows. During the highs, a couple will feel connected, in love, and passionate about one another. During a low period, a couple may be cold, distant, argue frequently, and may even contemplate separating. These stages can be short-term, lasting a few weeks at a time, or can be long-term phases that last years.
Marriage counseling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes improved relationship skills and conflict resolution. Sessions involved both partners, however, the therapist may also wish to see each person separately as well. The specific treatment plan will depend on the situation. But, whether it is marital problems, a tragedy in the family, or the effects of an illness (such as substance abuse or depression) on the couple or family unit, counseling sessions are designed to help individuals learn the tools they need to function effectively within their relationships. Marriage and Family counseling is a very active type of therapy, and members are often given assignments. For example: a couple may be given communication exercises to practice at home and be expected to discuss their experience at the next session.