By LOUISE MILLER
My parents thought I was too young to get married. Before the wedding, they insisted that my partner and I go along to relationship education.
I thought he and I knew each other better than any couple could – we’d talked and talked and talked – but it was surprising what came up during the sessions. We were both glad we’d done it.
A few years into the marriage, before we had kids, we decided to go to relationship counselling. We were going through a bit of a rough patch, and I wasn’t sure that we had a future together. I suggested counselling, and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Here’s why.
1. Going to counselling shows you’re both serious about the relationship.
It’s a sign of a strong relationship, not a weak one. You’re not willing to let yourselves drift apart. Just knowing my husband was willing to go to counselling made me realise we had a relationship that was worth working on. We went into it with a positive attitude.
Just as an FYI, you should know this post is sponsored by the Department of Social Services Stronger Relationships Trial. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.
2. Sometimes a relationship can be viewed more clearly from the outside.
We went along to a few sessions of counselling, and we talked about a lot of things, but for me, there was one thing the counsellor said that really stood out. This one line of hers gave me a whole new perspective on the situation and allowed me to move forward. It was something that only someone outside of the relationship could have told me.
3. My kids.
It’s scary to think that if we hadn’t gone to counselling and decided to stay together, these two gorgeous, funny little people might not exist. But beyond that, I really believe that if you’re going to have kids, you need to have a strong relationship, to help your kids grow up happy and secure. You know they’re learning about relationships from you, so you owe it to them to set a good example.
4. You don’t have to bring friends and family into it.
It’s great to be able to share troubles with people close to you, but I didn’t want to tell any of them the really private details about my marriage. It’s a big responsibility for them to have to give you advice, and they might end up saying what they think you want to hear. For a lot of reasons, I was happy I chose to speak to a professional outside my social circle.
5. It makes you realise that a relationship can be worked on and strengthened.
It would be nice to think that love is all you need to get you through decades of marriage, but that’s not always the case. Having a baby, financial crisis and other life changes can all put pressure on a relationship. But just because you’re having a few arguments doesn’t mean it’s the beginning of the end. Counselling can help you get back on track before problems become too serious.
How has relationship education or counselling strengthened your relationship?
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The Australian Government’s Stronger Relationships trial will run from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
The trial provides couples with a $200 subsidy towards relationship education and counselling with an approved service provider of their choice.
Couples aged 18 and over who are in a committed relationship can register at: www.dss.gov.au/strongerrelationships.