Marriage has changed in some aspects throughout the years. It’s gone from an agreement about property and who gets it upon a person’s death, to a lifelong relationship between two people who love each other, and everything in between. Of course, there’s a huge number of problems with how our culture currently deals with marriage and marital relationships.
Much of this comes from a variety of holdover traditions from the Victorian era. In times past, people knew full well that marriage was little more than a property agreement. As such, as long as both parties were fulfilling their obligation (providing for care of the property and inheritance, providing heirs, etc.), what each individual person got up to in their own time was more or less their own business.
Around the time of the Victorian era, people got the idea that a woman needed to love and honor her husband, but had not gotten over the idea that the husband owned all the property. This naturally extended to the wife herself, who was more or less presumed to be owned property.
This may seem like ancient history, but it wasn’t until much later when a married woman could legally own her own property. So it’s no surprise that there are a number of deeply held traditions that make marriage complicated. Many of those traditions and expectations aren’t even conscious. There’s a number of them that don’t crop up until something’s wrong, and then, since they’re unexamined, it can be very challenging to work through them.
So is there a solution? There absolutely is. Marriage counselling can help.
What Is Marriage Counseling?
It can be very challenging to consider that your marriage needs assistance. It can prompt lots of invalidating thoughts about not being able to fix it yourself. It can be hard to speak to a stranger, why would you want to air your dirty laundry? Aren’t private issues supposed to remain private? Aren’t you supposed to be able to talk to your friends and loved ones, and get their opinion, and use those opinions to work your way through other issues?
Marriage counselling is viewed as an option to enhance your marital issues and help to resolve the issues that you are both stalling on. This can help, but only if you’re willing to give it a go rather than wait for things to get worse.
Why Marriage Counselling?
To address the multiple concerns many people have, let’s start at the beginning. An outside opinion on a marriage problem can be a very valuable tool.
It’s true that you shouldn’t look for advice from just anyone. A marriage counselor, however, should be well educated and experienced. That is to say, they should have specific experience, training and a wealth of knowledge about how human beings work and think. They’ll be able to listen to your problems, and make an educated hypothesis at what sort of things are causing problems in what sorts of areas.
That’s an incredibly useful tool! What’s more, it’s a tool that your family and your friends can’t really provide. Your family and friends may know about your history and may know about your habits and how you think, but having that much personal knowledge about you is part of the problem. They’ve more or less already come into the situation with opinions and ideas about you, specifically. That means they will have a harder time actually having an open mind about the various factors that have caused the problem.
No one likes to admit it, but friends and family can be biased. This is more than just “my spouse’s mother is obviously going to take my spouse’s side”, though that’s certainly part of it. It’s also the fact that even people you both consider friends are going to come into the situation with a few pre-made thoughts about how the two of you act. They’ll “know” that your spouse is always quick to anger, for example, and will presume that your spouse being quick to anger is obviously a factor. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s actually a factor, they will presume it is, because they “know” it to be true.
A marriage counselor doesn’t have this bias. They don’t know anything about you, specifically, unless you tell them. Instead, they know about people in general. They know how people are likely to react when faced with certain situations, and how that can affect them over the long term. By knowing this, without knowing you specifically, they’ll be able to have a much more objective perspective of what actually affected a particular situation.
At the end of the day, marriage counselling can help you deal with your problems. But that’s only true if you’re willing to give it a go and take that first brave step. You can’t just presume going to a counselor is going to fix the problem, you need to be willing to try to figure out what’s wrong and have a constructive approach to positive change.