A successful outcome in marriage counseling is as much dependent on what you do as it does your counselor. In order for your marriage counseling to be successful you need to have the following attitudes:
Your Goal—You should have only one purpose for being in marriage counseling and that purpose is reconciliation and to be reattached in love. Achieving this goal necessitates both you and your spouse making changes in yourselves; changes in your attitude, changes in how you communicate, and changes in how you behave. Your relationship will not change unless both of you change. If you are thinking that only your spouse needs to change and not you, you are making a mistake. That mistake is based upon your lack of insight into your relationship. Counseling will give you the insight you need in order to make personal changes.
Your Time—Keep an attitude that your counseling sessions are sacrosanct. That means you are intentional to behave in ways during the counseling hour that make it different from any other time during the week. You are intentional to make it a time in which you are not judgmental, critical, belittling, or talk about or express anger. Furthermore you are intentional to present yourself to your spouse as patient, warm, caring, and sincerely interested in understanding his or her experience, point of view, and needs. Think of your counseling sessions as a time for healing and not a time for anger or attacking. Make it a time that is therapeutic and pleasant. Make it the one time during the week in which you positively experience one another. The key is being intentional.
Your Anger—Be committed to totally refraining from behaving with any degree of anger or even talking about anger. Anger is counterproductive and ruins the therapeutic process. You can express all your concerns and problems without communicating anger. Anger is completely unnecessary and you will need to be watchful of yourself about keeping it out of your counseling sessions. Instead learn to express the feelings that underlie your anger. Your counselor will teach you how to do that.
Your Process—A marriage relationship is a process, meaning there are ongoing actions that sustain it. Problems in your marriage came about because over time the process of your relationship became unhealthy and dysfunctional. This has led to the development of an unconscious relationship between the two of you. Both of you are responsible for the breakdown in the process. Your problems are the results of that breakdown and when the process is restored to health the problems will go away. Therefore, give priority to focusing on the process rather than the problems.
Your Plan—Marriage counseling is designed to help you develop insight into your spouse as well as yourself, and to help you demonstrate empathy. Insight and empathy alone are not enough. You also need to be committed to developing one or more reconciliation plans. In such a plan you decide on one thing you will do intentionally and continually that will help heal your relationship. Have the attitude that you are intent to make and follow through with your plan. Unless what you learn and experience in counseling sessions translates into changes in your attitude and actions you should question how serious you really are about reconciliation.