If you and your partner have agreed to seek marriage counseling, congratulate yourselves on your willingness to try and make changes. There are some things that couples can do to prepare for their first marriage counseling session. Prior to the first session, both partners should spend some time working individually and, if possible, spend some time in discussion together.
Create a list of the strengths and weaknesses within the marriage. Try to honestly evaluate some of your individual strengths and weaknesses in what you bring to the relationship as well. Then try to list what you think your partner’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Write down what your goals are for the relationship. What do you hope to accomplish in therapy? What do you hope could be different in the relationship? What would your relationship look like if your marriage were better? Try to be as specific as possible about what sorts of changes you would like to see.
Consider what needs to happen in order to reach those goals. In order, try to be as specific as possible. What would you need to gain from therapy in order to work toward those goals? Describe what feelings you hope to have if the marriage improves. How would you feel about your partner compared to how you feel now? What sorts of thoughts would you have about the marriage if it were improved? How would the two of you be behaving differently?
Determine what you are willing to do in order to improve the relationship. You cannot control what changes your partner makes and marriage therapy is not meant to “fix” one partner. Instead focus on what is within your control. Evaluate what things you could do differently that would likely benefit the marriage. Identify possible barriers to those changes. Honestly ask yourself how much effort and energy you are willing to put into making these changes. Consider whether or not you are willing to make these changes even if your partner does not appear to making changes.
Starting therapy can be difficult. Talking about your relationship in front of a stranger may feel awkward or embarrassing initially. Being honest is very important. Sharing about your feelings, problems, or sexual experiences isn’t something that the therapist hasn’t heard before. Try to be as open as possible in order to receive the most beneficial treatment.