Friday, June 24, 2016

Marital and Pre Marital Counselling in Bangalore

Counselling is essential and an integral component of legal interventions in the management of a case with the client in distress. The very reason someone has approached a lawyer seeking legal guidance is because there has been a state of mind where the person seeking advice has somewhere comprised on his/her duties, responsibilities, rights, ethics, morals, attitude, action, activities and so on either voluntarily or involuntarily. As a lawyer, practicing since a decade now I have realized that the legal solutions we offer especially in relationship troubles often end up more damaging the already stressed relationship leading to legal separation or further aggravation of the state of affairs. It’s inevitable under certain circumstances that one has to amputee the said relationship but I strongly believe with my own experience that there is strong possibility to ensure the relationship recovers and blossoms thru the right mix of legal guidance and counselling.

It’s very easy for a lawyer to understand the issue listening to less than a sentence from the client on a marital dispute and start recommending legal steps, in case the wife approaches the set procedures one often suggests is to file a case in the police station followed with a domestic violence case or essential rights etc… finally ending with a legal separation or divorce either mutual or contested. In case the husband approaches the procedures more or less are the same but as a caution and proactive protection we also suggest to acquire an anticipatory bail in case the wife complains. Well this is good as per the practice and rule book that suggests and the lawyer’s advice but should we lawyers not see this as a moral responsibility to overcome our own barriers and limitations that govern us and play a vital role as counsellors., I believe it very important for every lawyer to engage with the client and foremost carry very good listening skills and try counselling before taking or suggesting any legal action.

When I was the student of law and have attended counselling sessions with my seniors, I have observed that, couples then would come to us to fix the marriage. Now, I have young couples who have come just to convince their family or partner that a divorce is the right decision. Most marriages go through stormy periods severe enough that divorce is a likely outcome or that in many a cases one or both spouses develop an illness such as anxiety or depression. One important thing to remember as you look at marriage counselling statistics and wonder whether couples therapy can be successful for you: many, if not most, couples don’t go to counselling until their problems have gotten seriously bad. In order for it to be effective, there must be a commitment to improving the relationship and Success comes down to your willingness and determination to make it happen.

Once upon a time marriage was a 'forever' commitment. Today, however, it's a completely different story with some marriages being as short lived as just a few days or months, what distinguishes marriage in India from marriage in the West is the sanctity attached to marriage: a sense of perpetual bonding and an element of divinity in it which slowly in today’s times is becoming obsolete. A very recent report points out that of the 1.7 lakh marriages registered every year in Delhi, about 13,500 do not live happily ever after the statistics in Bangalore are more worse showing near about 9.5% of marriages registered end up in legal troubles and more than 70% of such cases are in the age group of 25 to 35 years and more than 60% are mutual consent divorce. In the present scenario what is new is not only the growing number of divorces but also a qualitative difference in the undercurrents of the causes leading to marital discord and divorce.

The prominent causes for marital discord as per with more than 40,000 cases analysed between 2000 and 2012 can be characterized under four broad categories
  • Personality related behaviours
  • Tendencies including deficiencies/disorders
  • Material/monetary gains through marriage
  • Incompatibility arising out of value system / thought process

It was also seen that 46% of cases were resolved successfully through counselling and 27% of the cases ended up with separation while others neither got resolved not reached the legal system.

Counselling is not easy, especially in the Indian scenario beyond couple counselling when the family members get involved, it’s very challenging to being in concurrence keeping all external and internal forces aligned towards common good. Not all counsellors or therapists, however, are qualified to provide marriage counselling. An effective counsellor usually a psychologist or a lawyer is be engaged in the work and truly invested in helping troubled relationships, though he/she charges his/her fees. Signs of a good counsellor also include healthy professional boundaries, such as a rigid confidentiality policy. In turn, the need for clients to be open and honest in marriage counselling is a must to gain the best results.

When should you seek couple counselling
  • Your rapport with your spouse has hit a blockade and you want to get your relationship back on track
  • When you have challenges in communicating with each other, silence is growing with an unpleasant undercurrent in the relationship
  • Where there are fights, resentment or other unpleasantness leaving to disharmony and a bitter taste in the relationship
  • When you are having difficulties dealing with in-laws, career, money matters, parenting and get no or less support from spouse
  • There are issues with sexuality, you suspect infidelity or any other key behaviour change but still want to ensure to get things back to track
  •  A very important juncture in life … beyond 40yrs. when your children are grown up and you are rediscovering each other
  • When you notice indifference in behaviour of your spouse and find it hard to deal with
  • When you are subjected to domestic violence. For many a people recognising that the relationship they are in is abusive can be difficult, there will be signs of emotional trauma one is going thru and is in midst of indecisiveness, certainly should seek counselling

What is the duration of the counselling sessions…?
-       Typically each session lasts for an hour and depending on the gravity of the situation, it’s observed that one may need at least 3 and at max 20 sessions for issues at hand to be resolved. The Sessions are conducted in interim intervals, with not more than 2 sessions per week.

What happens in the Counselling Sessions…?
-       Different counsellors are going to approach your situation in different ways, and your situation is going to play a role in how that's handled. Typically the counselling sessions involve…
o    Listening and Documentation (gathering information about your backgrounds, the history of the relationship,  and each partner's specific concerns in the relationship)
o   Goal setting  (behaviour pattern modification / guidance / effort to be put by individuals and couples together / effective partnering towards resolution of issues)
o   Monitoring and Modification (based on the feedback by the clients, there will be modifications introduced in due course till the undercurrents settle towards a blossoming relationship)

As an example, I have been very successful with this little formula, I ask the couples to write down at least 10 good things you observed in each other and continue this activity on a daily basis on the first week and come back and tell me, either wahtsapp or email or tell me when you meet in person. In the next sessions I administer and recommend each other to tell the good things they have observed to each other and appreciate them. Go back in time when you first met and live thru all good moments down the memory line and write them down… and a few more etc…

I have personally seen, when one start writing down good about his/her partner, at least 50% of barriers are broken and rest are the thinking traps one needs to overcome with effective communication. Remember magic happens when you put efforts, just don’t expect that you will meet a counsellor and he/she will solve your problems, you own your responsibilities and are accountable to ensure your relationship is back on track, a counsellor is a facilitator with certain tools and techniques and the knowledge about the law of the land who can aid resolve the complications. Perhaps you and your partner are arguing about the stupidest things and these rows quickly escalate into something nasty and you just identify this mistake and put corrective conscious actions to overcome such instances. It's not a bad bargain in the end, and if you're both willing to give it a shot it can be a fruitful experience.

What are the results of Counselling sessions…?

A few results that I have experienced counselling people since few years now are…

  • You will realize your short comings and try understand the neutral perspective and see the big picture
  • Effective communication is realized, you will start to communicate more effectively and more often
  • You will learn to respect each other privacy and understand the limitations
  • You will learn to resolve petty conflicts and acquire problem solving skills
  • You as couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment
  • You can expect an improved understanding of yourself and your partner leading to better communication skills
  • You will gain insights into each other’s differences, needs and expectations and try see from their point of views
  • Thinking traps will be overcome, you will soon realize that many a times what you meant or perceived was not what actually was
  • You might work through the issues and strengthen your relationship, you might decide the best course of action is to move on
  • You will discover a very different personality of yourself with an option to vent out what is built up in you since many years
  • Counselling isn't all rainbows and roses. It's not necessarily a counsellor’s job to save the relationship. Sometimes the counselling is more about figuring out how to make a split amicably

Can People who are unmarried seek couple counselling sessions…?

Absolutely, in today’s era, after seeing many cases of marital dispute, I strongly recommend that couple who are yet to get married should seek Pre-Marital counselling with an objective to understand each other better. In Pre-Marital counselling my focus with the clients is to pitch them thru few case studies and instances that may occur in their marital life and how they will react to which include…

  •  Monitory problems
  • Infidelity / Suspicion
  • Mutual expectation and respect
  • Incompatibility and Commitment
  • Career and individual aspirations
  • Commitment towards in-laws
  • Living arrangements (Joint family / Nuclear)
  • Commitment towards family and children
  • Gender Role and expectations from each other
  • Conflict resolution and heated arguments
  • Elements of spirituality and sexual compatibility

Should people seek counselling in cases of Domestic Violence…?
Being in a violent relationship can feel incredibly isolating, it’s essential that you should seek guidance and if possible legal help depending on the gravity of the situation if irreversible damage is done. Talking to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member is a great place to start, but if you feel shy or challenged then best option is to seek counselling, your details are confidential here. Remember that abusers are very good at manipulating their victims, most of the behaviours one will notice in the cycle of domestic violence starts with Abuse followed with Guilt and then Excuse and finally trying to bring back things to normal. But the very habit one is got into controlling the relationship will spurt out in similar cycle again and again. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are typical by-products of a violent relationship you will fall into and it’s very crucial to seek help. Any kind of violence is intolerable, counselling in such cases don’t take long time, in very few sessions one will observe if the person is an habitual offender or is really putting efforts to overcome the challenges. Alcoholism is another common trait observed in cases of domestic violence. It’s not always women, it is crucial to understand that women can be violent towards men too and men also can be victims of domestic violence should seek advice through counselling and appropriate legal action.

When does couple counselling fail or may not help…?
Most experts agree that couples counselling is a relationship between three individuals and it’s not the counsellor’s responsibility to “fix’ the marriage. It should be observed that average couple that enters marriage counselling has experienced marital difficulties for over few years and definitely would have put efforts to resolve things at their own or with the help of friends and family and after evaluating all option would have come to a lawyer for legal assistance. Times when counselling does not help are…

  • The problems in the marriage are too old, longstanding and few efforts in the past are tried with no results
  • One of partners has already decided to end the marriage and he/she uses counselling a way to communicate the same
  • Domestic violence is an issue and staying in an abusive relationship is the decision to end the marriage
  • If the couples are not willing to whole heartedly participate in the counselling and do the homework suggested by the counsellor
  • Drug / Alcohol abuse or any kind of mental illness is having a major impact on the marital relationship which is irreversible
  • Lack of motivation from either of the couples towards counselling and it’s their parents or guardians pushing them to counselling

What role the legal system in has to play w.r.t. marriage or couple counselling…?
Lawyers who are more interested in the welfare of their clients should probe deeper into family troubles than merely to ascertain whether there are "grounds" for divorce. Indeed, there may be ample grounds and yet divorce may not be the best remedy for the client. At least 40 per cent of all the divorce cases which go through the nation's courts have minor children involved, averaging about two children per couple. The problems today are more complex compared to a few decades earlier, the role of lawyers is also changing to address the situations and some lawyers have begun to realize that they need to be the face of the society and have a very important role to play beyond seeking justice for their clients following the rule books and law of the land. Practicing as an advocate is not enough, lawyers and the system at least in cases related to marital disharmony should move to a higher pedestal in ensuring to bring harmony before suggesting legal actions to amputee. There are many marital counselling centers that the legal system has instituted for the purpose of mediation, often clients I have met seek personal help due to confidentiality and would not want to go to open centers for counselling. There are many limitations, pros and cons and the legal system is evolving continuously but at a very fast pace looking at the alarming rate of dissatisfaction in the marital institute.

I am of the opinion that there is no problem that goes unresolved, only thing required is a little extra effort, that first move to overcome the inertia, that first steps to decide put down the ego and then the magic begins. Not all but at least 30% to 40% of cases can be resolved through counselling. You may wish to write to me at for legal advice and counselling.


deeps said...

truckfull of information... good enough for book in fact

Madhurima Ghosh said...

The best blog I have ever read... The best lawyer (Listener) I have ever met... The best counselling I have ever been thru... my relationship with my husband has blossomed again...

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About Me

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I am a practicing advocate in Bangalore Highcourt. My goal is to ensure my clients get justice and victory... Areas of Practice: · Mutual Consent Divorce · Contested Divorce · Annulment Of Marriage · Restitution Of Conjugal Rights · Maintenance (Interim and Permanent Maintenance) · Child Custody (Visitation, Interim and Permanent) · Criminal Proceedings (Bigamy, 498A etc...) · Domestic Violence and Alimony settlement · Registration of Marriage · Power of Attorney · Documentation and Registration of Will · Pre and Post Marriage Councelling Contact : Phone : 9845944896