When it comes to couples counseling, we all want to know how much time, energy, and money it will take for lasting improvements. A common question is: How long does it take to improve your marriage through relationship counseling?
It takes more than 21 days to improve your marriage
The 21-days-to-make-a-habit advice has been a myth all this time with no scientific backing. It’s more evident with what we know about neuroscience. It actually takes anywhere from 90 to 66 days depending on the particular habit.
In my work with clients, I tell them it takes 90 days for new neuro-pathways in the brain to form new associations. Different ways of thinking, behaving, and relating takes consistent practice. Just as regular workouts in the gym train our muscles, our intentional thoughts and behaviors train our neuro-connections.Whether you’re learning a foreign language or ballroom dance steps, it takes about 90 days to learn a new skill. Click To Tweet
Your idea of empathic communication with your spouse may be as challenging as learning a foreign language. If you can’t keep a beat to a radio pop song, you may initially be just as clumsy when you learn dialogue skills with your partner. But you can learn. Your brain is designed to learn new things.
Muscle memory and mental associations in our brains are made to connect.We are all wired to grow, connect, and continue growing in relationships. Click To Tweet
Beyond the counseling stereo-type to improve your marriage
My work with couples is different than the stereo-type of what you see on movies or TV. You may imagine a couple sitting on the couch together side by side, looking to the counselor to equally hear both partners’ sides. The therapist is neutral, balanced, and unbiased. (sounds a bit un-human to me)
Although a first session may look like that, Imago Therapy is different. Instead, the couple sits across from each other face to face. The therapist sits “outside” their relationship, coaching them with speaker-listener skills. With gentle guidance, encouragement and awareness, they learn how to make the space between them emotionally safe.
How many counseling sessions to improve your marriage?
“How many sessions does it take?” you ask.
The answer varies. For some it’s twelve weekly ninety minute session. For others, it’s weekly for the first month, and twice a month for the next 90 days. Beyond that, ever other month check ups are a great plan. Some may only need six month check-ups similar to regular dental cleanings.
Beyond the neuro-pathway factors other considerations are these:
- Are you in a crisis or just need a tune up?
- Do you both have an attitude of I’ll-do-anything-it-takes?
- How motivated are you as a couple to follow through in-between session?
In order to begin dialogue skills to improve your marriage, keep in mind it takes about 90 days. It will take additional time to master it for continual growth, intimacy, and connection. And don’t forget the periodic booster sessions to keep growing toward each other.
Questions to improve your marriage
On a scale of 1-10 how full is your love tank?
How do you feel in each other’s presence?