I believe a healthy relationship is one in which both partners feel safe to share their feelings and thoughts, no matter what they are. Your partner should aim to be as nonjudgmental and unconditional as possible. Likewise, it is your job to do the same. These two "jobs" don't seem much like jobs when both of you are getting along swimmingly. However, we all experience choppy waters on our journeys together. When a problem/issue arises in your relationship, it's wise to check in with a counselor before things escalate.
Communication in Your Relationship
Couples counseling is often based on enhancing communication skills. You would be surprised to learn how much tension and negativity can be dissipated with healthy communication. Sometimes all it takes is to be heard and understood by your partner, or vice versa. Letting go of defensive communication is often the key. In any case, we can attempt to figure out how to overcome problems/issues in your relationship with (painless) improvements in communication.
Unhealthy Patterns from Past Relationships
Generally, partners in a relationship may project issues onto each other – issues that stem from past failed relationships or unhealthy family dynamics. If this is the case, then individual counseling may be appropriate as well. However, insight into past conflict(s) can also be addressed during couples counseling sessions if both partners are open to exploring previous relationships and/or family history. It is important to take a look at the communication style learned in past intimate relationships and how closeness was formed.
Premarital counseling may be a good idea if you would like to make sure a healthy foundation has been set in place. Together we will explore communication patterns and unhealthy feedback loops you may fall into. I will help both of you connect when you are having trouble reaching out or feeling upset. Premarital counseling is also a good place to explore future goals of the relationship in order to feel like you have a shared vision of the future. A good first move you can both do on your own before coming in for premarital counseling is to simply explore the positive aspects of the current relationship, and to reconnect with the spark that initially began the partnership in the first place. A good marriage or relationship will typically have a solid foundation built around a strong friendship.
Marriage counseling is about making decisions to rebuild your relationship and reconnect if there has been a feeling of disconnect or tension in the relationship. In marriage counseling we will explore how the relationship was started and what it was like to get married. I will collect relationship history as well as individual history. Every now and then in marriage we may fall into unhealthy patterns that feel difficult to get out of. Sometimes, these unhealthy patterns become the norm and it feels impossible to get out of it on your own. Seeing a marriage counselor can be a good idea.
In some cases marriage counseling is appropriate when you would like to explore going your separate ways. The goal doesn't always have to be about staying together. Going your separate ways can always be an option in marriage counseling.