“When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.” ~ Alan Alda
A survey of divorced couples shows that only 1% had even sought help from a marriage counselor. Another study found that the average distressed couple waited 6 years before making a call to a relationship professional.
People wouldn’t wait 6 minutes to relieve the pain of a broken arm, but couples will wait six years to treat a broken marriage because they THINK they’ve failed! And, they think marriage counseling will do no good. The couples counseling industry is definitely in need of a public relationship makeover!
The problem with waiting 6 years is that it spells disaster for couples – 6 years of frustration, 6 years of fighting the same dumb fight over and over again. Six years of emotional disconnection, six years of hopelessness and helplessness. How could anyone be expected to hold on to hope after 6 years of pain?
Couples counseling CAN save your a “lousy” marriage AND enhance a decent one. As a matter of fact, I think every relationship could use some education, a relationship map, and a set of tools.
Further, sessions with a couples counselor are obviously not like a day at the beach. However, counseling can utilize playfulness and humor for therapeutic purposes! To borrow a famous quote, ” Marriage can be a tragedy to those who feel, but comedy to those who think!”
The most important tool a couples counselor can use to help couples gain insight and perspective is humor. Humor softens tension between two partners. Humor invokes a more gentle and playful mood for a couple, it really brings out the natural “we.” Humor enables clients to shift from the “reactor” to the “observer” in their drama and thus is a very powerful mindfulness tool.
Further, humor in couples counseling sessions is an immediate state changer four Couples Counselling Vancouver and helps relax and de-escalate conflict. Neuroscientists have found that laughter actually influences both sides of the brain, our emotional mind and our thinking mind. Therefore, humor is a wonderful tool for couples to use to get their messages across to one another without resistance. And, we all learn more when we are having fun.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. I have a big, red ball in my office. It’s about 20 inches across and has “Big Ball of Blame” written across it. When a new couple walks into my office, I often see a little smile cross their faces when they see it. I mean, who doesn’t have a festering ball of blame somewhere in their relationship. They get it. And they also get that I may approach all this a little differently.
When a person gets into a blaming rant in a session, and that can be quite often, I make them hold the “Big Ball of Blame” while they are talking. A variation on this is that I will place the ball between the couple and point to it saying, “This “thing” – the BLAME – is what is coming in between the two of you” This helps a couple shift from their “You verses Me” positions to Us verses “The Big Ball of Blame” stance.
I also have a pair of foam swords leaning up against the wall in my office. When new couples spy the swords, you usually see the glint in their eyes as they ask, “When can we play with the swords.” And, if the other partner laughs, it’s a very good sign! If a couple can still play together, they still have great passion potential.
I use the swords also when I demonstrate how they are pushing each other, rather than doing what they truly want which is to pull each other closer. I ask couples, “what does it feel like to ask for love with a weapon in your hands?” When a couple gets into a “Dumb Fight” – conflict that is mindless and unproductive – I give them an opportunity to experience their negative dumb fight “duels” in a whole new way. Trust me. They get it!
Couple counseling will give you hope, it can normalize your conflicts, because all couples have differences. Counseling provides you with solutions and tools. And last but not least, counseling that employs a sense of humor can actually be FUN. I have many couples who tell me that they enjoy coming to sessions for the insight, the bonding, and the psychological release of laughter.