Couple Counselling

In my position as a clinical counsellor, I often meet Iranian men and women who are stressed out due to a difficult marriage.   Martial issues are occurring for all people; however the cultural understanding of how to resolve conflicts is remarkable in the case of our fellow Iranians who are challenged in their marriages. These individuals come from all background, all ages, and all social status.

Most individuals have been in a long time marriage, while their relationships have not been the healthiest.  Immigration, unemployment, extended families, traumas, and shifts in roles are some of many important factors that are often involved in one possible case, when I meet these couples.

At some point when the marriage is threatened, most people try to think of possible solutions which are not always the best.

In general, counselling may not be the first option when couples are in conflicts.  Some may appreciate and choose to seek professional help, while at times many bridges have already been broken.

One thing that most women report is about their efforts to ask, plead, and encourage their husbands to attend counselling.   Men usually complain about wives who are willing to destroy family life due to the “women friendly western Society” they have immigrated to.  However, to be fair, I have had many Iranian men who choose to come to counselling while their wives are skeptical or negative about the work that can be done.  In some cases, i have heard of physical alteration being the fact and in those cases I refer the victim to make a police report, while it is not my job to intervene.  The only protection I am legally bounded is to intervene if i hear a child is being abused, if i hear some one will hurt the self or others.  In case of violence, therefore i have to inform the individuals about their right to be safe.  And, just to be clear;  it is important to say that I have seen men and women being violent against the other partner, so violence does not know any gender, race, social background, nationality, or social status.

In many cases, these broken relationships moving fast towards divorce, a situation that could have been avoided if / when both parties were willing to resolve issues sincerely in counselling session.

I have heard one partner telling their spouses: “I have no problem, you are crazy, and you need to attend counselling, not me.”  Or others who call me to say” My wife / husband should come and talk to you.  “In most cases, one part basically is telling me to “fix the other partner, as it is his or her fault.”
I have heard this statement from too many individuals in order to be able to find a pattern in these types of statements.

Therefore it is important to emphasize that couple or marriage counselling is a two party’s work and a marriage can be saved if both parties are cooperating.  The earlier people try to prevent emotional suffering in their marriage, the more chance we have to help the couple to rebuild their relationship.

May 8, 2010

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