So, this year is turning out to be something real extra-special. We’ve had to witness murder hornets, killer plants, volcanoes, and civil unrest; it’s all happened with a global pandemic as the background music. For months, we’ve been stuck in the house with each other and a lot of us are struggling with keeping it together; “it” being both our sanity and our marriage. While seeing a counselor is the thing that I would certainly recommend if your marriage is in trouble, the reality is that not everyone can make it to a session. Especially with social distancing guidelines being in place, couples’ counseling might not be the most viable option. You know how I feel about books. There are useful books that can help to strengthen a failing marriage.
What’s the downside to not seeing a marriage counselor?
People who see a therapist or marriage counselor often put the onus on the practitioner to improve their situation. Being unable to speak with a marriage counselor means that you will have to do much deeper work. Counseling practitioners guide their clients through their issues. Not putting ideas into their heads, but steering the conversation to draw out what’s in the heart and mind of their client.
If you are unable to see a marriage counselor, you’re going to have to work together to assess what is broken. There is no impartial 3rd party in your situation. You will be going into the fight for your marriage with your own hurts and biases leading the way. Relying on effective communication skills will be essential, so learning how to fight fair should be a priority. Fight Fair: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love is a great tool to guide this effort. Another handy tool is the Conversation Helper Cards from my friend at Your Blissful Family. This tool kit was created to help facilitate constructive conversation in the most difficult of situations.
Useful Books to Strengthen A Failing Marriage
Not being able to see a counselor does not have to mean the demise of your covenant. Here is a list of must-read books to help save your marriage if you can’t make it to marriage counseling:
What do I need to do to save my marriage?
The most important thing to remember is that you are going to exercise a bit of humility to save your marriage. No one is going to be 100% right or wrong in this situation. Owning up to your faults before pointing out your spouse’s shortcomings is going to take hard, intentional work.
Approach conversations with “I” statements and not “you” statements. It makes a difference. Saying “you” automatically assigns blame and puts up defenses and walls. Beginning with “I” allows a person to take ownership of their emotions.
“You make me feel like…” puts a person in a defensive mindset and they’re more likely to stop listening, as they’re preparing a rebuttal.
“I feel like this when…” allows for accountability when there are two sides to the story.
What should I do if the books don’t help?
The truth of the matter is that doing this on your own might not be the best solution. If you’re finding that reading the books and working through them is just not enough, you may need to bring in some help. Seek out a local licensed therapist. Look for one who specializes in marriage; they would be listed as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
If you need additional resources, you may benefit from these posts: