In my opinion, the biggest mistake that couples in unhappy relationships make is playing the “blame game”. It’s a very normal reaction – but not a helpful one! When things are going wrong to notice what the other person is doing to contribute to the problem. Our brains are wired to see our own behavior from a different, more forgiving perspective, than that from which we see others’ behavior. These misattributions, combined with a lack of clear and positive communication, have caused the deterioration of many relationships.
Done well, couples counseling can help you to recognize your own faulty thought patterns and ineffective communication strategies, and get you away from the vicious cycle of blaming each other. When you’re hurt and angry with your partner, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually on the same team: Any damage to one of you unavoidably hurts the other. Marriage is not a zero-sum game, and couples counseling can help you both to take more of a win-win perspective. It helps you convey your feelings of frustration or hurt or anger in a way that allows you to be heard. It helps you gain a deeper and more forgiving understanding of the person with whom you’ve chosen to spend your life. It teaches you to focus more on the strengths that you have as individuals, and as a team; and less on the shortcomings and disappointments that are inevitable in any relationship.