Marriage Counseling Can Help |

Marriage Counseling Can Help

Marriage is a sunnah among the other sunnahs of Allah, The Most Glorified, The Most High. A sunnah of creating and establishing family. While many Muslims enter a marriage with the right intention, it is a fact that no marriage is perfect and all couples experience friction. Conflict is to be expected in a relationship and the way conflict is handled as a couple determines the strength and health of the relationship. Divorce should never be the first step when disagreements occur. 

Allah tells us in the Quran:

“If there appears to be discord between a wife and her husband and if they desire reconciliation, then choose arbiters from the families of both sides. Allah will bring them together; Allah is All-Knowing and All-Aware.” 

(Surah Al-Nisa, 4:35)

In this verse, Allah tells the believers that a husband and wife who experience issues in their marriage should find family members from both families to help them resolve their differences. These family members should have good intentions and strive to listen and be fair to both spouses. Unfortunately, there are some individuals or couples who for whatever reason can not, should not, or do not want to involve their family to assist with reconciliation. These couples should consider marriage counseling in their mosque if available or by marriage counselors.

What is marriage counseling?

Marriage counseling, also known as couples therapy, is basically a psychotherapy process conducted by licensed practitioners to help couples explore their relationship, identify misunderstandings, and resolve conflicts. Usually involving both partners, marriage counseling allows couples to recognize underlying conflicts and improve their relationship. It can help married couples make thoughtful decisions, overcome differences, and enhance communication. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1.  Studies show that marital counseling can be very effective.

Marriage counseling has a high rate of patient satisfaction. According to the American Psychological Association, about 75 percent of couples who opt for therapy say it improves their relationships. A lot of couples admit that it is the only hour they have during the week where they're focused on each other, with no distractions.

A survey by the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy reported that:

  • Over 98% of respondents reported getting good/excellent therapy.
  • More than 97% are satisfied with the help they got.
  • 93% reported getting more effective tools to handle their relationship.
  • Many respondents reported improved physical health and productivity at work after the therapy.
  • There is the need for strong will on the part of both partners to make it very effective.

Couples therapy is most effective when individuals are willing to accept responsibility for their own part. They must also be willing to accept each other’s faults. But most importantly, they must be willing to repair the relationship.

2.  Couples therapy can help in many significant ways. 

Short- or long-term marital counseling can help each partner:

  • Explore hopes, expectations, and relationship concerns
  • Understand each other better
  • Enhance effective ways to communicate with each other
  • Explain why there are differences of opinion and what to do about them
  • Learn problem-solving strategies
  • Learn how to move on from marital disappointments and anger
  • Understand the possible implications of a breakup

3.   Seek help sooner than later.

Many partners struggle together for years before trying therapy. Most people make the mistake of waiting too long before taking this crucial step. The longer the wait, the harder it usually is to get back on track. Unhealthy behavior and resentful feelings can become more difficult to change the longer that they continue. It is always better to go as soon as you notice there is an obvious crack in your relationship that is proving too stubborn to patch alone. 

4.  Finding the right marriage counselor is the key.

Several studies point to the fact that 70-80% of counseling success depends largely on the relationship and chemistry between the client and the counselor. The other 20-30% then depends on the methods and approach. Find a counselor who will make you feel comfortable and confident in the professional relationship. Many Muslim counselors utilize faith-based approaches rooted in Islamic theology while integrating the science of psychology toward addressing martial issues.

You may be able to access counseling options in your local mosque community and/or by searching for a therapist online. Options include seeing a counselor in person or conducting the sessions online. The best options are those practitioners who have counseling skills and understand the values that are significant to a practicing Muslim family. The counseler may or not be Muslim him/herself.

Online marriage counseling is an option. It still has the same objective as in-office counseling. The only difference is that your therapy sessions with the marriage counselor are done on the internet in the comfort of your home.

Whether you’re having privacy concerns or worries, having difficulties with time and availability, or just about any other reason, getting a suitable marriage counselor to work with you and your partner online can also have great impacts and results. This option offers couples a lot more flexibility and convenience. 

5.  There is evidence of the impact of counseling in the Seerah.

Marriage counseling in Islam has been an important practice since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. The Prophet used to provide counseling on marital issues on a regular basis to couples. The most famous one was between his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, may Allah be pleased with both of them.  Both Ali and Fatima had a special place in Prophet Muhammed’s heart. They were married by the Prophet and then counseled by him. When they faced obstacles (that we all face in our marriages) the Prophet asked what they wanted, listened, asked questions of clarification, then advised them in a manner that encouraged both to engage and become closer to Allah. By the guidance of Allah, the advice of the Prophet, and the faith in their hearts, they were able to pull through and leave behind a great model of a strong marriage partnership for the rest of us.

Essentially marriage is a journey that involves effort, intentionality, and commitment. Spouses should remember that they are protecting friends of one another. Both the husband and wife have responsibilities toward each other. They are both on the same journey to Allah. If issues arise, counseling can help spouses gain both knowledge and skills to enhance their marriage by increasing understanding, respect, affection, and intimacy between partners, which can help them be happier together.  Having a peaceful family life is connected to being able to lead others to righteousness.

 Miriam Mohamed is a mother to seven children and a granny to two cats!  She loves trying new things and learning cool facts. She has taught in an Islamic school setting, has experience assisting children with special needs, and enjoys volunteering and being a part of the community. Miriam lives in Chicago with her beautiful flowering cherry tree and big family.

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