Being in a relationship is no easy task and some of the cracks in society are beginning to show in the way that many couples give up on their relationship before seeking help with their differences. There are a number of different types of counselling that couples can get depending on the stage of the relationship they are in.
Marriage preparation, also known as premarital counselling, is aimed at helping premarital couples prepare themselves for the changes and new responsibilities that marriage brings to a relationship. It is designed to provide each individual with self knowledge as well as a more in-depth knowledge of their partner’s temperament, ideals and desires. Marriage preparation aims to give couples the tools to deal with conflict and communication in order to strengthen the relationship.
Conflict within a marriage will not be prevented by premarital counselling, but those who have undergone some marriage preparation show stronger commitment and greater willingness to address issues rather than allowing the relationship to break down.
Marriage enrichment is available for couples who have been together for some time and who would like to enhance their relationship. Usually in the form of weekend retreats, marriage enrichment programs aim at preserving the positive aspects of a marriage and removing the negative influences; they attempt to give couples the tools to further develop their relationships and improve on the sound basis they already have.
Couples learn from the experiences of other couples on the programme and are able to identify and learn to overcome problems that they had been unaware of or unable to tackle on their own.
This counselling is aimed at married or unmarried couples who are experiencing problems in their relationship that they are unable to overcome on their own. Couples counselling places emphasis on the couple as the patient not the individuals within it, although some understanding of the individual psychodynamic is required to highlight each partner’s expectations of the relationship.
Couples are preferably seen together and emphasis is placed on their current relationship and future goals rather than the past, unless something in the past is the cause of current tension. If the counselling is unable to help them overcome their problems it is redirected to help them separate from each other.
Once couples have reached a stage in their relationship where no amount of positive work will help them to overcome their differences they can choose to embark on divorce counselling. There are 6 stations to divorce counselling as first identified by Paul Bohannan as early as the 1970s. (UNISA MGG201W Study Guide 1:148)
The Emotional Divorce – counsels people through the negative emotions such as low self esteem, anger, loss of trust and son on, that come with the breaking up of a relationship.
The Legal Divorce – the court officially brings the marriage to an end thus terminating any financial responsibility each person has to the other.
The Economic Divorce – this is the dividing up of assets. This can be a very painful experience as people place great sentiment in their belongings and it is often difficult to agree on who gets what. This is made more difficult in cohabiting couples who are not married as the court has much more difficulty intervening where there is no contract.
The Co-parental Divorce – this involves the decision of custody, visiting rights and alimony. This can become bitter and there is a danger that the children can get caught up in the fighting which can be very detrimental.
The Community Divorce – this involves the loss of friendships and other relationships that were a part of being married to a person. This can render one or both parties to feel lonely and isolated.
The Psychic Divorce – this is the part where the divorced parties now have to see themselves as individuals rather than part of a couple. They need to gain autonomy and to let go of the relationship’s both positive and negative components so that they can move on.
Divorce counselling helps the divorcees to work through these components and move on with their lives independently of each other.
This is necessary when a couple cannot reach agreement over their issues and have become bitter and argumentative about the intricacies of splitting up their relationship. A mediator is selected to ensure that the couple discuss their differences rationally and come up with a reasonable solution for both parties. The mediator is there to keep emotion to a minimum and allow rational choices to be made.
Relationships are an intimate sharing of life with another important person and thus should not be taken lightly. In order to preserve the values of marriage, coupledom and functional families, take a change on relationship counselling before you give up on each other.