Every marriage has its ups and downs. Thankfully, marriage counselling is readily available in Singapore and a powerful resource for couples at an impasse in their relationship. Here, the team from legal education portal Huffe provides some tips on a way forward.
What are the benefits of marriage counselling?
More than half the plaintiffs in civil divorces in Singapore cited “Unreasonable Behaviour” as the main reason for divorce in 2016. This is when your spouse behaves in a manner that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with, ranging from alcoholism to a refusal to socialise. However, upsetting these issues needn’t necessarily be fatal for a marriage and can be remedied with early intervention.
What should I look for in a counsellor?
Find someone with whom you both feel comfortable. The role of a marriage counsellor is to work with you and your spouse to overcome hurdles in your relationship and emerge as a more successful married couple. Marriage counselling should help you:
• understand the issues in your marriage and communicate them to you from an objective perspective;
• clear up misunderstandings;
• manage the expectations that you and your spouse may have of each other;
• rekindle love, trust and commitment;
• discover the couple’s strengths and apply them to strengthening the marriage;
• work through unresolved marital issues methodically.
Where can I find a marriage counsellor in Singapore?
Ditch the stigma – marriage counselling isn’t just for high-conflict couples. It’s becoming increasingly common for normally happy couples to attend sessions during periods of stress, and there are several avenues available. The first is a private counsellor or family therapist; you can arrange an initial session to get a sense of what to expect and discuss the packages offered. Then there are voluntary welfare organisations such as the Research Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) and Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF); alternatively, your local church, mosque or temple may provide assistance. Family Service Centres (FSCs) are staffed by social service professionals and are a community based initiative offering services to enhance couples’ relationships, though these are primarily targeted at vulnerable or low-income families.
What happens if my spouse refuses to attend marriage counselling?
You don’t need to bin the idea entirely if your spouse is against marriage counselling. You can attend as an individual, though results may take longer than if both spouses were attending. Over time, your counsellor may be able to bring your spouse around to the idea by broaching and encouraging conversations that you can’t handle on your own.
What if counselling doesn’t work?
With so many organisations offering solutions and a sincere effort to improve your relationship, attempting some form of marriage counselling is certainly worth a shot. However, in some cases, divorce proceedings may be inevitable. If you’ve made the decision to divorce, engage a good divorce lawyer in Singapore to alleviate potential difficulties during this emotional time. Effective and compassionate legal representation is vital to help you navigate through the legal procedures, advise you on major decisions and protect your legal rights so that both parties can reach a fair settlement. There are also divorce support groups in Singapore who you can turn to for comfort and support from people who have faced similar circumstances.
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section: