Once couples realize that something is wrong with their marriage, there are a number of choices they can make: they can read self-help books and try to fix it themselves, they can seek advice from friends and family, they can engage with a professional marriage counselor, or they can do nothing—each with varying results, with doing nothing having the least chance for success.
Most couples do not have the experience to know how to navigate through tough times. They fall in love and expect the fairytale life, while in reality, they repeat patterns and dynamics that are not productive and often hurtful, and wonder why the problems never seem to get fixed.
The purpose of marriage counseling overall is to teach couples effective methods of working together to resolve conflict in a marriage so they can function independent of a third party. By facing old habits and patterns, and making efforts to establish new and healthier ones, couples can learn to identify problem areas and learn new and better ways of communication.
As with anything, marriage counseling has its pros and cons:
The overall goal of marriage counseling is to resolve issues and improve and strengthen the relationship between a married couple or those involved in a committed relationship. It uncovers perhaps-unseen ways of interacting that are detrimental, as well as brings buried anger to light so that it can be resolved.
Through regular counseling sessions, couples share frustrations and truths before a neutral third party, who offers methods to move past them and ways to better handle disputes and problems when they arise. The use of personality assessments or other testing by a therapist, when effective, can aid couples in developing a better sense of their partner’s communication style and lead to learning ways to build a stronger foundation and more enriching marriage. This can also translate to improved parenting skills for couples with children.
How well couples relate with their counselor can be more important that the treatment they provide. Couples should treat the selection of a therapist like a job interview, understanding that each of them must feel comfortable with the person selected in order to build trust in that person, and to then make real progress. Do not be afraid to change counselors if one or both of you realize the person is not the right fit.
Marriage counseling doesn’t always work for everyone, and can uncover issues that cannot or will not be resolved.
It also requires both people in the marriage to commit to making a positive change, and, often, one spouse may seem less committed to the use of therapy and unmotivated to put in the work it takes for therapy to be most beneficiary to the marriage. It’s important to remember: One spouse cannot fix a broken marriage; it takes both spouses to dedicate effort to looking at, acknowledging, and taking steps to resolving issues with a common goal, although there are times when only one person in a marriage may choose to work with a counselor alone. It depends on the circumstances. However, both partners must take responsibility for their role in the problems.
In addition, couples therapy is not a quick fix; it takes time, over many counseling sessions. Some couples cannot afford the cost of ongoing therapy, and eventually drop out or try to fix their problems themselves. Help may still be available through local couples-support groups or places of worship which offer counseling free of charge or at a significantly lesser expense than a private therapist.
Taking the first step to counseling is always the hardest one, but with an open mind and a dedication to making it work, many couples go on to have successful marriages.
Contact Your Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about marriage counseling, or wish to talk to your attorney about a possible separation or divorce, your legal rights, or child custody issues, contact attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. We specialize in Family and Estate law. Contact us today.