A recent New York Times article indicated that, on average, a couple seeks marriage counseling after the relationship is in trouble for six years. Imagine you have a broken leg and you don’t attend to it by seeing a physician for six years. Now consider another recent study that found that two-thirds of divorcing couples never even seek therapy before calling it quits. This study is shocking because it seems to suggest they didn’t really give their marriage a fair chance by working with a professional.
Why marriage counseling isn’t admitting failure
For many couples, the thought of going to couples therapy is daunting, not just because they’ll be discussing their most private emotions and thoughts (including sexual ones), but because it feels like admitting failure. Many people wrongly think being in love shouldn’t take work. After all, it’s supposed to be “happily ever after,” not “happily ever after … with weekly therapy.” However, ask any happily married couple what the secret to their marital bliss is and they will admit it takes plenty of work and commitment. Marriage counseling can be a very useful tool in this process, especially if you and your partner continually have the same argument or experience the same issues. Maintaining a marriage and solving problems within the marriage takes skills — relationship skills that few of us naturally possess. You may feel like you have exhausted all options, but a marriage and family therapist can be of great benefit in teaching problem-solving skills and how to ask for your needs to be met.
What you’ll learn through marriage counseling
Marriage counseling has many benefits. Here are just a few things you can learn through ongoing sessions:
How to resolve conflict
You’ll learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. In marriage counseling, you’ll learn communication skills that will help you listen to your spouse and process what your spouse is saying.
How to get your needs met
You’ll learn how to state your needs clearly and openly, without resentment or anger. You’ll also learn how to be assertive without being offensive. Both spouses need to be able to talk about their issues without fear of hurting the other spouse. In marriage counseling, you will learn that you can get what you need without having to make demands and engage in conflict.
How to work through unresolved issues
You’ll learn to process and work through unresolved issues. Marriage counseling offers a safe environment for expressing any unhappiness you feel. Getting your feelings out in the open with the help of a trained marriage and family therapist may be all you need. You may find that your spouse is more than willing to work together to solve the problems in your marriage.
More about yourself and your spouse
In marriage counseling, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of who your spouse is and what their needs are. Better yet, you’ll learn more deeply who you are and what your needs are.
Does marriage counseling work?
When you find the right marriage and family therapist, marriage counseling can help your relationship thrive. I use Emotionally Focused Therapy and the Gottman Relationship Checkup to help me tailor your sessions to what will most help you and your partner. Marriage counseling using these methods has a very high success rate. The relationship skills needed to maintain a fulfilling marriage can be learned. I can teach you those skills while monitoring your progress, mediating conflict, and giving objective feedback. As a trained marriage and family therapist, I find the right balance between empathically (not passively) listening and active and skillful engagement, without being intimidating. From there, the trusting relationship necessary for good therapy can be developed with you and your spouse.
Does marriage counseling help or hurt?
In my years of experience working with couples, I’ve found that marriage counseling always helps — even when it hurts. Many couples I see learn new skills that help them strengthen their bond and intimacy, while others realize divorce is the best option. In either case, marriage counseling opens the lines of communication so that the couple makes the best decision for them. If you wait too long to seek couples counseling, the odds are against you. Even if you feel it’s too late and no amount of counseling will help, the only way to know for sure is to seek professional help. Doing so will keep you from making a mistake you may later regret.
Does marriage counseling work after an affair?
Affairs are a huge breach of trust that can really unsettle your marriage. Many couples end up divorcing after an affair, but those who decide on marriage counseling can restore trust and security in their relationship. I’ve had a lot of success working with couples after they’ve experienced an affair and reigniting their passion for each other and their marriage.
Can marriage counseling help with divorce?
By the time some couples come to see me, they’re nearing a divorce. In cases where couples choose to divorce, marriage counseling serves to help them better communicate and resolve issues around children, finances, and splitting property. It can even help them better understand why the divorce is happening and process their feelings around it. If you’re thinking about divorce, protect yourself from future regret by working with a marriage counselor. I can help you come to terms with whether or not to divorce and teach you the skills needed in any future relationships should you decide to leave the marriage. To get the marriage counseling you need, contact me today. I currently offer online therapy or socially distanced sessions at my therapy office in Westlake Village, California.