It's normal to feel like your marriage or relationship needs some work. In fact, every relationship requires work. It's also common and OK to take your time when it comes to counseling. Maybe your spouse doesn't feel ready and you do, or vice versa. Perhaps you don't feel you can afford it or you don't have the time to juggle it along with all the other responsibilities you both have. There is still hope. Here are 4 simple alternatives to counseling.
1. Self-Help Books
Not only can reading a self-help book give you pointers, suggestions, and even validation but the time spent reading together can also be beneficial. By reading a self-help book together you allow yourselves to get insight without feeling ashamed, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable. Together, you can create a safe environment for addressing issues and feelings. Many self-help books come with workbooks or offer "homework" suggestions to do as a couple or individually.
If you find yourself reading alone, realize this gives you the opportunity to discover personal revelation about you individually that can then be applied to your relationship. After you have reflected on the changes you need or desire to make, use the information you discover as conversation starters to get a good dialogue going between you and your partner. Self-reflection is a big part of relationship repair.
A few books to consider:
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary D. Chapman
Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work by John Gottman
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Love He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary D. Chapman
2. Websites/Online Marriage Courses
The Internet can be a great tool for marriage or relationship advice and counseling. It is easy to access, offers anonymity, has no time commitments or restraints, and can be done from your own home. The amount of help you can find online is amazing. You can simply sign up for online counseling or search out the right fit for you and your partner. There are plenty of sites that offer counseling as well as advice and support.
Here are a few websites to look into:
3. Couples Seminar
Attending a couple's seminar together is a great way to begin a journey towards relationship healing. Seminars offer information and can provide you with the tools needed to start addressing issues you hadn't realized were present in your relationship. Additionally, seminars are a reassurance that you and your partner are not the only ones going through turmoil and confusion. You can be a part of a group while getting personalized help. Regardless if the gathering is large or more intimate, you will still get the needed time together while working towards becoming a stronger couple. Not only are seminars informative and helpful but they are also often full of energy, reminding you what it feels like to have fun and be a couple.
4. Individual Therapy
Counseling and therapy is a cause of anxiety, embarrassment, and a sign of failure to some. It isn't for everyone. However, just because it isn't something your partner is willing or comfortable to try, doesn't mean that getting counseling for yourself won't help. In order to fix a relationship you have with someone else, you must first fix the relationship you have with yourself. Individual therapy can help you understand yourself, your struggles, and your worries and stresses. All of which can help you become a stronger person, ready to fight for your relationship. Additionally, by attending on your own, you can potentially become an example to your partner. Often times, it's the fear of the unknown that stops a person from trying something new.
Relationships require work. It's as simple as that. Don't feel like you and your partner have failed and given up simply because one or both of you aren't ready for traditional counseling. Try an alternative, and get the healing process started.