Marriage Counseling Questions: A Guide to Effective Relationship Counseling
Why do you need counseling questions?
“We don’t need counseling. We just need to stop fighting.”
“We’ve been to counseling and it never works.”
“She’s going to side with you because she’s a woman.”
Getting your spouse to agree to marriage counseling is often the hardest part of counseling. In fact, there are studies that prove it, particularly from Purdue University’s Couple & Family Therapy Center.
One of the ways to get the most out of counseling is to be prepared. Putting together a list of questions helps to keep the conversation on track. When you arrive in the counselor’s office, there is often a sort of brain freeze. Especially if emotions begin to run high, you can forget what you wanted to talk about.
Our partner, BetterHelp.com provides a free 7-day trial of their online counseling service if you think that might be helpful.
1. What Are Our Main Issues?
The things that matter the most to one spouse often seem insignificant to the other. When you’re in a relationship, couple counseling sessions can focus on these potential conflicts. Ask your spouse what he or she thinks are the main issues between the two of you and what can be done to remedy the situation. For example, your spouse may think you do not spend enough time together, and you could remedy this by discovering ways you can enjoy time with one another more often. In order to find solutions, you must first know what the problems are.
2. What Issues Are Most Important?
Find out what your spouse considers are the most important issues and work on those first. You should also air your views on what you think the most important issues are so that the two of you can work on them together.
3. Do You Want a Divorce?
If you are worried that your relationship has reached the point of no return, one of the most obvious marriage counseling questions is whether you should stay together. Unless you both give a solid yes to divorce, it’s worth trying counseling as a way to save your marriage from divorce. Divorce is not easy or inexpensive, so you need to be absolutely sure you are ready to give up before taking that step because it’s hard to turn back once you make that decision.
4. Are We Going Through a Bad Phase?
All relationships go through phases. You will fall in and out of romantic love with one another depending on what your relationship is going through at the time. When asking marriage counseling questions, examine your issues and decide if the marriage has really gone bad or if you are just going through a bad phase.
5. How Do You Truly Feel About the Relationship?
You may feel like the relationship is salvageable, but your spouse may feel it is too late to save it. If you’ve got your partner to counseling, chances are there is still something left to work with, but it’s important to know where your significant other stands with regard to making things work.
6. What Bothers You Most About Me?
In a marriage, some things about your partner will always get on your nerves. These things usually not cause for divorce, but big things like a lack of trust and honor can destroy intimacy. By asking marriage counseling questions you can find out what things your spouse would like to change about you and you can work on those issues. Just don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.
7. What Kind of Love Do You Feel?
Asking your spouse if you are loved is one of the most basic marriage counseling questions. It’s easy to fall in and out of romantic love, but the love in a true marriage runs deeper. If your spouse still has deep and lasting feelings for you, then it’s worth it to continue working on the relationship. Trouble begins when you stop caring at all.
8. Do You Trust Me?
Trust is one of the most important factors in any relationship. If your significant other has a hard time trusting you, you will find it difficult to connect on any level. According to Psychology Today, regardless of how distrustful your relationship with your partner has become, it’s never too late to rebuild if both people are willing to work at it. One way to work at it is in Mort Fertel’s Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp, which is a home-based marriage renewal program, where participants learn the 3 pillars of marital trust.
9. How Can I Gain Your Trust Back?
One of the key elements in gaining trust is forgiveness. Recognize if your partner has learned to think negatively about you because of things you have done. Learn to talk about needs and feelings and share your reasons for what you did. Ask for forgiveness and explain why you will never repeat your mistake. Give your spouse a chance to tell you what you need to do to regain trust.
10. Are You Satisfied With Our Intimacy?
Nearly all couples experience a change in chemistry, but the most important question is how you feel about it. If the chemistry is dead, your partner may be prone to looking elsewhere. Try to find ways to rekindle the spark such as sharing fantasies or going on a marriage counseling retreat.
11. Are You Seeing Someone New?
If your spouse has started considering divorce, find out if there is someone else in the picture. If there is infidelity, find out from your spouse what is lacking in your relationship that led to feelings of someone else developing. Psychology Today notes that six in ten cheaters never get caught, so if your spouse is cheating, you may well not know.
12. Have You Ever Considered Having an Affair?
According to the results of an MSNBC survey, nearly one in five adults has cheated on a current partner. If your spouse has considered cheating, find out why.
13. What Are Your Expectations of Counseling?
Ask your partner what he or she expects from marriage counseling. If your spouse goes into counseling with the same hopes of saving the marriage that you do, then there is a good chance you can work things out.
14. What Are the Reasons You Want to Work Things Out?
Ask your spouse what the reasons are for making the marriage work. If the responses center around love and commitment, the chances are you can work together to rebuild the relationship. If the response has to do with staying together for the children or the number of bills you share, you may need to reevaluate the relationship.
15. Are There Any Past Conflicts We Should Resolve?
It’s hard to move forward if there are unresolved conflicts. Not only will the past keep coming up in future arguments, it’s hard to get close to someone if you are still angry about something they did. Find out if there are any unresolved issues and work on them.
16. Do you Feel You Can Communicate With Me?
One of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication. If you can’t talk to one another comfortably, you will never be able to work through future problems. Find new ways to improve communication with one another without judging or getting angry.
17. Do You Feel Accepted?
Find out if your spouse feels loved and accepted by you. It’s important to have support, and even more important to gain acceptance from those you love. If your spouse is feeling unappreciated, you need to work on finding ways to show your appreciation for the relationship.
18. How Do You See the Future?
Question your spouse about how he or she views the future. Are you included in vision, or is your partner more concerned with separate hopes and dreams? If you are still a part of the future, your spouse hasn’t completely let go of the relationship.
19. Have We Tried Everything?
If you have made it to marriage counseling, chances are you have just started to work on your relationship. One of the most important marriage counseling questions you can ask your spouse is “have we tried everything?” Focus on the reasons why you fell in love in the first place and discuss ways you can get that feeling back.
20. Are You Willing to Change to Make Improvements?
Both of you have to be willing to work at the relationship in order to make it work. One of the most helpful marriage counseling questions to ask your spouse is whether he or she is willing to put forth every effort to make things better, as long as you are prepared to do the same.
What You Need to do to Succeed in Marriage Counseling
The most important part of your side of counseling is to be willing to answer all of these same counseling questions honestly. If you approach this as more of an Inquisition with your spouse being grilled with all of these questions, you might as well not waste your time.
There are times when people show up for counseling and all they really want to do is punish their spouse. They aren’t interested in getting anything resolved; they really are looking for the counselor to choose sides and verify their perspective. A great counselor won’t take sides but will remain neutral.
When you arrive at marriage counseling, you need to be ready to open up. It’s going to hurt, but it’s the only way you’re going to get the most out all of this work. Your spouse isn’t going to put their heart on the table unless you do.
It can also be helpful, if you’re on okay speaking terms with your spouse, to share these questions ahead of time. That way, they, like you, can know what they want to say.
One last thing: Be very careful not to write a speech to go with each question. This isn’t a rehearsal; it’s counseling. You need to speak in the moment so that your emotions are real and honest.
Get Ready to Make Your Marriage Better
These are just some of the counseling questions you might ask. Of course, many, many more questions might exist that are specific to your relationship but start here.
Learn more about how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.