Does Marriage Counselling Work? … And How to Find a Marriage Counsellor?

 

Marriage remains a fundamental aspect of life in Singapore. Married couples naturally experience conflict for many reasons, and spouses should not wait until their marriage is on the verge of breakdown before seeking help from a marriage counsellor. If you and your spouse are at an impasse, it is advisable to seek help sooner rather than later so that it is easier spot and fix your marital issues. 
1. Overview



Instead of letting things worsen and resign themselves to seemingly inevitable divorce proceedings, couples should try to identify their marital issues and eradicate them. Spouses may overlook some basic but crucial things when it comes to making a marriage work.Where cost is your primary concern, ask yourself these 4 important questions before choosing a divorce attorney:

These include:

a) Communication
Spouses who tend to bottle up their marital frustrations are more likely to have a tenuous relationship. Sharing not just their pet peeves, but their expectations of each other and perhaps individual hopes and dreams is ideal. This will lead to better understanding between the two spouses and prevent the discord that arises from miscommunication.

b) Balancing Individuality and Togetherness
While couples have a joint identity, it is important for them to maintain their separate personas. People do not want to be known for merely being someone else’s spouse. Individuality is also what keeps a relationship exciting. Engaging in activities on their own and keeping their own groups of friends would benefit both spouses.

c) Effort
Marriages do require effort and time put in by both spouses. Intentional quality time not only grounds successful marriages but indicates spouses’ selflessness and commitment to the relationship.

d) Inequality
Where there is an imbalance of power in the relationship, the spouse who feels unable to contribute to decision-making may harbour feelings of resentment. Ensuring that there is equality in the marriage by splitting the right to make decisions can strengthen the bond between the couple.

Just as all humans are different, all couples are different and have varying dynamics. It is rare for two couples to have the exact same problem and solution. If spouses are unable to resolve their issues on their own, they should not be averse to getting neutral third-party help from a trained relationship professional, i.e. a marriage counsellor.

2. Benefits of Marriage Counselling


 

More than half (53.7%) of Plaintiffs in civil divorces cited “Unreasonable Behaviour” as the main reason for divorce last year. Unreasonable behaviour constitutes the Defendant behaving in a manner which the Plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with. This is highly subjective and open, and examples take the form of a non-exhaustive list ranging from refusal to socialise to alcoholism. These problems are not necessarily fatal to a marriage and can be remedied with early intervention.

The most obvious benefit of marriage counselling is that you and your spouse will work together to overcome the hurdles in your relationship and emerge as a more successful married couple. The alternative to seeking help would be to ignore the issues or pretend that they are of little consequence. This is dangerous as marital problems, when left unchecked, will grow and may eventually lead to the breakdown of the marriage.

A marriage counsellor can help you and your spouse in the following ways:
(i) Understand the issues in your marriage and communicate them to you from an objective perspective
(ii) Clear up and misunderstandings the two of you may have
(iii) Manage the expectations that you and your spouse have of each other
(iv) Rekindle love, trust and commitment between you and your spouse
(v) Discover the couple’s strengths and apply them to strengthening the marriage
(vi) Work through your unresolved marital issues methodically

3. Counselling for Marriage Problems



Post marriage counselling is becoming increasingly common and no longer carries embarrassing undertones. It is not reserved for high-conflict couples, but is also attended by normally happy couples going through a period of stress or transition. There are several avenues through which spouses can undergo counselling:

a) Private counsellors or family therapists
b) Voluntary welfare organisations
c) Religious institutions e.g. churches, mosques and temples
d) Family Service Centres (FSCs)

In order to get a sense of what to expect, you may call or arrange an initial session with a counsellor, who will take you through the packages he/she offers and recommend one that best suits you and your spouse.

In addition to Marriage Counselling, there are also Divorce Support Groups in Singapore whom you can turn to for comfort and support from people in (or who have faced) similar circumstances.

4. Family Service Centres (FSCs)



Family Service Centres (FSCs) are staffed by social service professionals and are community-based. They offer services to enhance couples’ relationships, although these services are primarily targeted at vulnerable or low income families. There are 47 across Singapore (e-Locator: http://app.msf.gov.sg/dfcs/) and spouses can locate their nearest FSC to gather further information before attending these sessions if they are apprehensive.

5. Unwilling Spouse

Sometimes, there are situations where one spouse would like to try out marriage counselling while the other is against the very idea. If you find yourself in this situation, you can attend marriage counselling as an individual, but have to highlight to your counsellor that you are seeking marriage help and not individual therapy.

Very often, one spouse can change his/her marital relationship merely by altering his/her behaviour and actions. A sincere effort to improve a marriage will go a long way, even though it may take longer than if both spouses attended counselling. With time, your counsellor may be able to convince your spouse to attend counselling by broaching and encouraging conversations that you and your spouse cannot handle on your own.

With so many organisations offering solutions, attempting some form of counselling regardless of the type and severity of conflict between you and your spouse is certainly worth a shot.
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Founder and Principal Lawyer
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Beatrice Yeo Poh Tiang

Having handled over 10,000 divorces since 2006, Ms. Beatrice Yeo, the Founder and Principal Lawyer of the firm, is widely acknowledged as one of the best divorce lawyers in Singapore.

She has extensive experience in all aspects of Matrimonial Law, including Nullity Proceedings, Contested & Uncontested Divorce and Mediation.

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