Once a month Curt and I go and sit in front of a counselor. This person is trained to help couples learn how to talk through issues and deal with things constructively. Now, Curt and I aren't in trouble. In fact, as I write this we're very very happy. But we do have struggles and issues. And we need a third party sometimes to help us sort through those struggles and issues. Because if left to our own devices we choose some very dumb ways-- ways that hurt the other person.
The other day our counselor gave us a sheet of "losing strategies-- things that keep you from getting what you want most in your marriage." Things on the list included making a case like a lawyer, striving to get the facts right, bullying or somehow attempting to control the other person, verbal escalation, thinking you're entitled to vent, passive aggressive behavior, put-downs, shutting down or withdrawing, etc. I am ashamed to admit how many of those things on that list I have done in the past or present. Some are lifelong habits, some are heat of the moment mistakes. But I do a lot of 'em. And I don't want to anymore. Our counselor is helping us learn how to change our behavior, reprogram ourselves. Listen effectively. Communicate effectively. Big stuff. Necessary stuff.
The more I am married the more I learn that marriage is hard work. But if you're willing to do the hard work (including investing the money and taking the time to sit in front of a counselor as much as it takes), you can have a great marriage. I feel like going to sit in front of a counselor and learn from him what we don't inherently know is like scheduled maintenance on a car. It's the smart thing to do-- and it saves you from breaking down in the future. I am glad we do this and I would urge any of you who feel like counseling would benefit you (hint: I would be willing to bet this is most of you-- especially if you're raising kids and dealing with all the financial, emotional, etc. stress that comes with that) to make yourself an appointment. Seeking counseling isn't admitting weakness, it's positioning your marriage for greatness.