Now more than ever there are experienced professionals available to couples who wish to improve their marriages instead of immediately pursuing divorce. The industry is not a one size fits all. There are several forms of dispute resolutions to choose from. Historically, many couples experiencing turmoil in their marriages would seek the assistance of martial counselors. Today, people who feel that their marriages are in crisis, are opting more frequently to go to martial mediation in the hopes of saving the marriage. All relationships experience disputes. Many couples have an ineffective way of arguing and settling their differences. When unproductive communication and conflict resolution skills are consistently utilized, the marriage suffers. Professional help is needed to develop productive skills for a healthier relationship. Marital counseling and marital mediation are effective and can be used separately or in conjunction with one another, but each have distinct differences.
Marital counseling is one option for couples experiencing challenges in their marriages. A licensed and trained mental health professional delves deeply into the past and interpersonal, psychological issues of the couple. Counselors, in hourly sessions, focus on exploring deep personal issues, address mental health diagnosis, family backgrounds, pathologies, and specific treatments. They are able to identify neurotic behavior and symptoms of mental disorder or illness. Marriage counselors aim to use analytic skills to provide context for parties and help them to understand their past behavior. Traditionally, one or both parties experiencing marital conflict go to therapy reluctantly. The general sense is that something is wrong with one or both parties and someone needs to be fixed. The sessions are frequently used as opportunities to place blame where both people look to the therapist as a referee and expert to solve the problems in the relationship or to fix one of the parties. Additionally, over the years, there has developed a great resistance by men and some women about going to marital counseling because of the negative stigma many feel regarding therapy. Often, couples entering therapy have a conflicting agenda where divorce is on the table for one of them and the other wants to save the marriage. Frequently, one of the parties just wants to check the box that counseling was attempted before seeking divorce.
Marital Mediation is a different resource for couples whose marriages are in crisis. The process is facilitated by a trained Supreme Court Family Mediator who is certified in marital mediation. It is available for couples who have hopes of saving their marriages. The approach is different than marital counseling. It is a dispute resolution process that is extremely successful when a couple has an unproductive manner of resolving conflict and negotiating. Sessions are traditionally held in no less than 2-hour intervals where problems can collaboratively be identified and resolved by mediation techniques. The marital mediator works with the couple to help them resolve ongoing specific disputes and negative recurring interactions that are causing the marriage to suffer. The emphasis is on the present, analyzing the communication of the couple, and training them to have productive styles of negotiation and conflict resolution in the future. The mediator is trained in noticing the disconnects and misunderstandings between the couple. Also, because the martial mediator is educated in the divorce process, the mediator can give a disputing couple an education on what divorce looks like from a financial and emotionally perspective.
Couples often seek the help of marital mediators once counseling has failed. Recently, a growing number of couples are seeking the assistance of a marital mediator instead of therapy or at the same time as they are receiving individual counseling. Seeing both a marriage therapist and a marital mediator offers the couple the opportunity for healing and learning new communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills. Couples no longer only have the choices of staying in an unhappy marriage, seeking couples counseling, or getting divorced. There is now a fourth alternative dispute resolution gaining momentum that has proven to successfully resolve marital conflicts even when other avenues have failed. Marital mediation could be the key to revitalizing unhealthy marriages.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” -Nelson Mandela