Does Marriage Counseling Work?

does marriage counseling workDoes marriage counseling work? The answer largely depends on a number of factors, including your willingness to change and the depth of your marital problems. While marriage counseling may work wonders for one couple, it doesn’t work for everyone. To help you answer the question “Does marriage counseling work?”, you need to take into consideration the following factors:


1.  Marriage Counseling generally takes less time than individual counseling

If you are wondering “does marriage counseling work?” the answer primarily depends on if both you and your partner are ready to make changes in your marriage and in your selves. If both of you are committed to change, then you will likely experience faster and better results from marriage counseling. When partners attend marriage counseling together, the counselor can work with you on changing the dynamics of the relationship and more easily get to the root of the relationship problems.


If your partner refuses to attend marriage counseling, you, individually, can still benefit from marriage counseling sessions. The counselor can work with you to develop communication skills and conflict resolution skills so that you, at least, can work on repairing the relationship. There’s only so much a marriage counselor can do if both parties do not attend. However, if you’re committed to staying in your marriage, but your partner refuses to attend marriage counseling, then we’ll work with you to help you navigate through the problems in your relationship and develop skills to effectively handle these problems.

2. Does Marriage Counseling work when divorce rates are so high?

Does marriage counseling work? Absolutely, most couples who attend marriage counseling report that counseling saved their marriage. Furthermore, the idea that 50% of marriages end in divorce is not entirely true. Going into marriage with the notion that you’ve got a 50% chance of making it work, ignores many important factors contributing to divorce rate statistics. For instance, the younger a couple marries, the higher the divorce rate. Also, childless couples tend to have higher divorce rates. The success of a marriage depends on many other factors as well. For instance, it depends on the level of commitment each partner has in the marriage.  Couples who seek marriage counseling are frequently more committed to making their marriage work, and will be more likely to see success after attending marriage counseling.

3. The Sooner the Better.

It’s never too soon to go to marriage counseling. Regardless of how deep your problems are, if both parties are committed to the marriage, then marriage counseling will help. However the question “does marriage counseling work?” often is determined by how long a couple waits to start marriage counseling. Early on in the “rough patch” a marriage counselor can work with you to correct communication patterns that are contributing to your problems. A marriage counselor can also help you develop conflict-resolution skills to help the two of you work through arguments together and be able to effectively navigate through future arguments. Unfortunately many couples wait too long to begin marriage counseling and discover that their partner has already decided to call it quits.


If you’re wondering “does marriage counseling work?”, check out our Marriage Counseling FAQ page for common questions many couples ask us. Or Contact Us to start repairing your relationship now!  

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Managing Anger during the Holidays

managing anger during holidaysIt’s the holiday season and if you’re scrolling through blogs, you’re probably finding a mountain of advice on how to manage holiday stress or control your seasonal depression.  But what all those bloggers ignore is everyone out there who are just plain ANGRY during the holidays.


Many people spend the holidays with extended family members, some of whom you may not have seen in a long time. While the holidays are supposed to be at time to enjoy the company of your family, oftentimes the holidays and spending time with extended family can bring back past resentments and grievances that can often lead to anger.

So how do you prepare for managing anger during this stressful time of year so that you’re not the cause of the next family feud?


Tips to Managing Anger this Holiday Season

1. If you’re looking for ways to begin managing anger over the holiday, start with being careful with the amount of alcohol you consume. Excessive drinking contributes to conflict and aggression. If you’re not in complete control of yourself, you’ll be more likely to let your guard down and not be mindful of your anger triggers.

2. Manage your time carefully so that you do not over schedule yourself. Plan ahead and set aside specific days or times for each task to be done.
Then give yourself more time.

3. Budget. During a time of year when people are supposed to feel that it is “better to give than to receive” money sure seems to dominate family fights. Before you buy anything, decide how much money you’re going to spend this holiday season and stick to it. Excess spending is only more likely to get you more angry.

4. In managing anger during the holiday season, you may need to adjust your expectations. Things can go differently from how you have planned them. Relax, it’s ok. Remember that you are only with your family for a short time during the holidays (even if the day seems like it will never end.) Also remember that as families grow, changes naturally take place. New traditions and rituals come in and old ones become parts of our memories. You can help yourself with managing anger during the holidays by being open to changes and helping create new family traditions and rituals.

5. Avoid indulging in unnecessary arguments and fights. Just don’t get involved. Who cares who opens gifts first? You can also manage your anger during the holidays by working on your self-esteem. Remind yourself of your self-worth. You don’t have to get drug into every minor family spat.

6. Keep up with your health habits. Don’t let the holidays be an excuse for a free for all. Indulging a little bit is part of the fun of the holiday season. Overindulging eventually causes guilt and anger. Keeping up with your health habits will help you avoid some of your anger triggers.

7. Just Say No. Managing anger over the holidays requires you to say “No” from time to time. If you don’t feel like participating in a particular family event, then you need to assertively state your desire to skip the family event this year. Saying “yes” to things you don’t want to do will only trigger your anger more.

If you need help managing anger this holiday season, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our Anger Management Counselors. Anger Management Counseling can help you learn to identify your anger triggers, gain skills to manage your anger, and reduce your angry feelings. Call us Today to schedule an appointment.

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Build a Stronger Marriage

Build a Stronger Marriage
We frequently are asked if Marriage Counseling can help build a stronger marriage. If your partner doesn’t want to attend marriage counseling, there are things you can do individually to help build a stronger marriage. It certainly helps if both parties are willing to work on the marriage. And marriage counseling can’t fix every problem in your marriage if both of you aren’t actively working on the relationship. However, there are some basic steps you can take to improve the quality of your relationship. Often we find that when one person starts seriously trying to change their behavior, then the more resistant person will realize just how serious you are about saving your marriage.


Build a Stronger Marriage: 4 Communication Strategies

  1. Keep it Simple. Focus your conversations on one topic at a time. Describe the problem in 3 sentences or less. Don’t start dragging up everything that bothers you when you have an honest conversation with your partner. If you want to build a stronger marriage and prevent possible divorce, open communication is vital to your success. Many problems couples face can be easily resolved with better communication skills. This doesn’t mean that couples aren’t talking enough. Some couples are talking too much. Don’t overload your partner with the fact that he doesn’t do the dishes, doesn’t pick up his dirty clothes, never comes home from work on time, and hasn’t held your hand in 6 months. That is just information overload for him and makes it more likely for him to shut down and “Not want to talk about it.”
  2. Use I-statements the right way. Just because a sentence begins with “I think” or “I feel” doesn’t make it an effective communication skill. If you want to build a stronger marriage, you can’t hide behind “Well, I used an I-statement” when you began your conversation with “I feel like you’re a domineering, condescending jerk.” I-statements are a way to express how you feel. I-statements are a way to keep the finger pointing to a minimum. But they can be used in the wrong way. If you feel like your partner is domineering, then try, “I feel like I can’t voice my own opinions if they are different from yours.”
  3. Invite what you dread. If you are sick and tired of hearing your husband debate on what to do with his parents’ house now that they’re in a nursing home, then invite him to talk about it. Initiate the conversation. Let him know that you are listening. Talk about it thoroughly. Let him get everything off his chest all at once (which could spare you from having to bring it up over and over again). To build a stronger marriage, you’re going to have to tackle the tough stuff. You don’t have to resolve the problem right away, but you do have to have your partner feel like he is really heard.
  4. Praise your partner. In the early stages of romantic relationships, praising your partner comes easy. There’s just so much that you love about the person. The longer we’re in relationships, the easier it is to forget to praise your partner. Be specific with your praise. Simply saying, “You’re the greatest” isn’t enough to build a stronger marriage. What specifically makes your partner the greatest? Try praising your partner by saying, “I love your sense of humor” or “Thank you for changing the oil in my car.”

If you want to build a stronger marriage, then it may be time to see a marriage counselor. Marriage counseling can help you resolve your communication problems and other problems in your relationship. Heartland Counseling Center offers marriage counseling to work with you as a couple to get to the core of your problems and give you skills to build a stronger marriage and start solving your problems before it’s too late. Call us Today!



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When should a Couple attend Marriage Counseling?

When to attend Marriage CounselingOne question we frequently get asked at Heartland Counseling Center is “when should a couple attend marriage counseling?” or “when is it time to seek couples counseling?”


So what’s the short answer?  The best time is generally before many couples finally decide to get outside help from a marriage counselor.


Of course relationships tend to be a little more complicated than that.  So here are a few clues that it may be time to see a marriage counselor to give your relationship a little “tune up.”


Problem 1:  Strained communication between partners

If there is one common theme that pervades all relationship struggles, it would have to be communication problems.  Almost all issues that lead couples to seek marriage counseling can be traced back to communication problems.  Communication problems often start small and then worsen over time if partners don’t make a conscious effort to correct course.  Maybe you feel like it’s impossible to talk to your partner without yelling.  Or maybe you feel like there’s too much distance between you to be able to openly communicate your feelings.


How Marriage Counseling can help:

Trained marriage counselors can help you and your partner learn to openly verbalize needs to each other.  Marriage Counselors can teach you to verbalize feelings and needs via I Statements and other methods of effective communication.  By improving your relationship skills with your partner, you will be more able to deal with any challenges that strain your relationship in the future.


Problem 2:  Infidelity or Cheating

Marriage Counseling after cheating and infidelity is a very common reason many people seek relationship help.  When cheating and infidelity occurs, trust is damaged and there is generally an emotional void left behind.  When trust is damaged this severely, it takes time and effort from both partners to overcome the obstacle and get their relationship back on track.


How Marriage Counseling can help:

Marriage Counseling can help partners identify strained areas of the relationship that were likely present even before the cheating occurred.  Marriage Counseling can help you and your partner work to strengthen communication skills and rebuild trust following infidelity.


Problem 3:  Sexual problems

Often couples come to see us with what they see are irreparable sexual problems.  It’s not uncommon for partner’s sexual needs to change over time and evolve during the relationship.


How Marriage Counseling can help:

Couples Counseling can help you and your partner verbalize and articulate your sexual needs to one another and work with you to reach a common ground that will meet both of your needs.

Problem 4:  Parenting issues

While it’s not uncommon for couples to have differing views on parenting, on occasion these differences are more extreme and can lead to relationship problems.  Whether it’s dealing with a defiant child in elementary school or a disrespectful teen in high school, parenting-related stress can take a toll and lead to relationship problems.


How Marriage Counseling can help:

Effective parenting is a challenge in and of itself.  Parents simply must be on the same page with parenting beliefs and practices if they want to be successful with a challenging child.  Children have an uncanny knack of being able to tell if you and your partner are not on the same page with expectations and consequences.  Counseling can help you both solidify expectations and get on the same page to avoid future conflicts.  This improves things for your and your partner, as well as your kids.

So there you have it– some of the more common answers to the question “when should a couple seek Marriage Counseling?”  At Heartland Counseling Center, marriage counselors are specifically trained to address marriage counseling and couples counseling issues to help strengthen or rebuild your relationship.  Contact us today to schedule a FREE 30 Minute Consultation to see if we can help!



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5 Things to Say (and Not to Say) to a Loved One with Depression

Wife with depression in Cape GirardeauAn estimated 1 in 10 US adults report feeling depressed. Untreated Depression can lead to a variety of problems including relationship problems, workplace problems, and an increased likelihood of the depressed person engaging in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse.


If you have a loved one suffering from depression, it’s hard to know what to say. I’m sure there have been plenty of times when you said the wrong thing. And with the severity of depression, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could have a devastating impact on the one you love.


Below are some guidelines for knowing what to say (and what not to say) to a loved one with depression.


Remember for all of these guidelines, the simple rule in talking to someone with depression is to keep the focus on them and not you. While their depression certainly does impact you, their depression is not about you. Talking about how you are impacted by your loved one’s depression will not help alleviate the depression.


1. You want your loved one to know that you are there for them and while you may not understand what they are going through, you will try to understand.


Try saying: “You’re not alone” or “I can’t really understand what you are going through, but I’m here to listen if you need to talk.”


Avoid saying: “There’s always someone worse off than you are.” or “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.”


2. You want your loved one to know that they matter to you and that you’re not going to leave their life because they are depressed.


Try saying: “You are important to me. I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”


Avoid saying: “No one ever said that life is fair.” or “I think your depression is a way of punishing me.”


3. You want your loved one to know that you’re here to help them and will be there to support them.

At the same time you don’t want to push your loved one too hard into seeking help. You’re more likely going to drive a wedge between you and your loved one if they are not ready to seek help yet on their own.


Try saying: “Do you want a hug?” or “I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain. I’m here for you.”


Avoid saying: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself” or “Have you tried taking a relaxing bath?”


4. Depression is real.

While it may not be something you can physically touch or directly observe people who are depressed are genuinely not feeling well. Depression can have physical symptoms that are observable, but not all people who are depressed experience physical symptoms. You want your loved one to know that you believe that they are depressed.


Try saying: “You’re not going crazy.”


Avoid saying: “Aren’t you always depressed?”


5. You want to express to your loved one that there is hope.

Depression doesn’t have to be forever. A depressed person can get help and start feeling better. Depression is something that one can survive through.


Try saying: “When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you.”


Avoid saying: “Try not to be so depressed.” or “It’s your own fault.”


If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, learn how Depression Counseling services can help you feel better and start enjoying life once again. 

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Tired of Anger controlling your life? 3 Anger Management Skills you can start using today!

Let’s be honest—being anMan needing Anger Management Counselinggry is exhausting. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. In the moment, you might not notice it but after you’ve calmed down, after what you’ve said and done has taken effect, it’s exhausting.

You don’t want to be angry anymore.


To start on a road to less anger, try these 3 basic anger management skills.


1.  Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This anger management skill requires a little bit of practice. (Try practicing when you are not angry. The heat of the moment is NOT the time to practice a new skill.) Negative thinking leads to more angry feelings. The more positive you can be, the more likely you won’t be quick to get angry. This anger management skill is mostly a matter of reframing your thoughts. Try looking at a given situation from someone else’s perspective and you’ll find it easier to change your negative thoughts to positive ones.


Instead of: “That jerk just cut me off.”
Replace your thought with: “That was close. At least I’m safe.”


Instead of: “I hate my boss. He always makes me work overtime.”
Replace your thought with: “My boss must really trust me to do this job right if he’s asking me to put in so much overtime.”


2.  Get your anger out physically. I know it sounds like it won’t work as an anger management skill, but physical exercise can actually go a long way in helping you manage your anger. Start a daily exercise routine. Include cardio as well as weight lifting. While weightlifting may be more appealing to really push your body to the max, cardio can really help you work out some of your anger. If daily exercising doesn’t fit with your schedule, get a punching bag or punch a pillow.


3.  Surround yourself with positive people. It’s easy to be angry when you’re surrounded by negative, condescending people. If everyone around you always complains, then you’ll be more likely to see the negatives around you. If you’re surrounded by people who cut each other down and are condescending to others, then you’ll see the world through a negative perspective. Furthermore, if you’re the butt end of the jokes or the one that others are putting down, then being around those people doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, making you all the more angry.


On the other hand, if you surround yourself with positive people, you will begin to see the world in a more positive light. If you’re around people who are nice to each other and caring for others, then you’ll feel better about yourself and your world. And it’s easier to manage your anger if you feel better about yourself.


This anger management skill may mean you need to make significant changes in your life and your personal relationships. If you’re work environment is negative, if your boss is condescending, then you might need to look for a new job or even a new career. If your friends find humor in putting each other down and making fun of each other, then you may need to seek out new friends.


If you’re struggling with controlling your anger and would like help from a trained Anger Management Counselor, read more about our Anger Management Counseling services today!


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