Counseling Couples: The Complexity of Delicate Situations
July 5, 2013
Love is patient and love is kind, according to Corinthians 13:4 yet more and more frequently couples find themselves at impasses not knowing which is better to stay together or to separate. Living in a society of our way right away, right away can present conflicts among couples especially when they each have different views on what is best for their relationship. To add more complexity, family units may be non-traditional or other elements such as substance abuse and infidelity are present, which results in the presence of additional stressors. Through careful intervention, respect for the family unit, and proven methodologies, couples counseling is an avenue that provides hope for preparation for those entering marriage or long-term relationships, while also providing redemption and restoration for those who desire to maintain current relationships.
Introduction and History
For many years psychologist have studied and expounded on the research of pioneers such as John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth who developed attachment theory, as well as, research conducted by Abraham Maslow, who determined that humans have a “need for belonging.” These pioneers set the foundation for understanding our humanistic desire to have a companion. Prior to these psychologist, the Bible reveals in Genesis 2 that Adam was lonely and for that reason, a “help mate” was created. Furthermore, according to Sandberg, Busby, Johnson, & Yoshida (2012), research has shown that even in adulthood, the presence of a significant other or partner can produce feelings of “security, relief, and other positive affects” whereas the absence of this secure attachment produces avoidant and anxious behaviors. As individuals engage in relationships, spanning from basic acquaintances to commits such as marriage, there are times when communication, confidence, and commitment become difficult. Some situations lead couples to seek the intervention and expertise of counselors to assist in reconciling. Despite the troubles that couples encounter, Worthington, Lerner, and Sharp (2005) suggest that by utilizing counseling with the purpose of developing strong emotional bonds, couples have the ability to sustain long, healthy marriages. As unique as each individual is, so is each family unit or couple and it is important that therapist work within the systems that are presented, because on some occasions, the couple or family simply interacting within itself produces focus and accessibility of change (Chambless, Miklowitz, and Shoham, 2012). Counseling that promotes hope, forgiveness, better communication, conflict resolution, and build commitments, especially those encompassing Christ, leads to repair and reconciliation, which why most couples initially seek counseling (Worthington, Lerner, & Sharp, 2005). Major Topics in Couples Counseling
Types of Relationships/ Couples
As times have changed, so have couples. The family unit is often not the traditional mother, father, and 2.5 children, instead families are now composed of stepparents, stepchildren, and same-sex relationships. As Christian counselors, relationships may present that are not condoned, yet respected. Stark, Kirk, and Bruch (2012) offer that even though marriage his recently become a highly idealized commitment, the rates for cohabitation and the number of single parents continues to increase and become more acceptable. Marriage has become a voluntary institution (Stark, Kirk, & Bruch, 2012). In addition, the composition of marriages has changed as reported by the Williams Institute. In 2006, the institute studied same-sex couples reporting status and determined that “nationally, the number of same-sex couples who reported their status to the government increased 437 percent”...
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