Marriage Counseling – What Makes It Work and When?

Updated on December 19, 2016

The divorce rate is getting higher all over the world for both first and second marriages. Marital distress is painful emotionally for not only the couple involved, but also the children of the couple.

Many people try to give their marriage a second chance through marriage counseling and no wonder, this is high in demand. Marriage counseling has actually helped many to save their respective marriages, but there are factors which contribute to the overall effectiveness of this:

Emotionally Focused Therapy

Many marriage counselors feel that this type of therapy performs better in terms of saving a marriage. This is known to reduce the marital stress and certain statistics show that approximately 50% of the couples were able to save their marriage after termination of this therapy. The number grows to 70% when you include the next 3 months after terminating the therapy.

The success rate obviously depends on the nature of problems that the couple are having and also the willingness of both the parties to resolve their issues. That being said, with almost 90% of the couples willing to give their marriage a chance after undergoing this therapy maintain a healthy relationship after 3 years. Therefore, it can be concluded that this therapy works pretty fine.

Realistic Expectations are needed

Many couples have unrealistic expectations coming into a marriage counseling therapy and this never helps. The goal that they want to achieve should be something attainable. For example, they may not be on proper talking terms and the therapy can actually help them to have a healthier and more meaningful conversation at the end of the sessions.

Sometimes, the therapies last for months, even years, so if you expect that a therapy will fix your marriage in a week, you are probably mistaking the purpose of it.

Communication Techniques: How To Save Your Marriage

Domestic Violence Is Known to Take a Toll

One partner tries to manipulate the relationship and also take up coercive tactics for maintaining control over the other – this is domestic violence by definition. It doesn’t have to be physical all the time; it can be emotional as well. When the perpetrator understands that he or she is losing power and control, the degree of abuse can get to a higher level. People not physically violent before may show signs of that. If you are at the receiving end, it’s important for you to be completely honest about domestic violence with the marriage counselor.

On the other hand, the batterer usually doesn’t take any responsibility of the actions and hence, such situations get tricky and are more complex to be resolved. Just to add, physical abuse is the last straw for many people unsatisfied in a relationship and once they have made up their mind, it’s tough for any type of marriage counseling to offer any substantial help.

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The Effectiveness of the Counselor Is Important

There are many therapies providing marriage counseling and some are undoubtedly more effective than the others. An effective therapist is engaged in the work that he is performing and should be completely invested in the troubled relationships.

Marriage counseling is not easy and there is no end to the formal education as one should continue to study various cases for enhancing the skill and knowledge. With time, experience is gathered which is extremely important to have for marriage counselors. Apart from all these, the marriage counselor should honor the confidentiality policy, thereby maintaining the professional boundaries.

When you are on the brink of a divorce and you feel that you still want to give it a try, you should try marriage counseling. It may work or it may not, but, at least, you will know that you tried your best.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • dashingscorpio profile image


      3 years ago from Chicago

      Counseling works best when the couple is still "in love" with one another and want the marriage to work but realize they need help to tweak things. However in most instances couples don't consider counseling until after one or both of them has "checked out" of the marriage mentally, emotionally, or physically.

      Essentially counseling ends up becoming a "pit stop" on the way to divorce court. It allows the couple the ability to tell their friends and family: "We tried counseling". The marriage was already over with.

      The second biggest detriment to saving a marriage is waiting (too long) to go to counseling. The number one detriment is marrying the "wrong person" to begin with!

      There is no amount of "work" or "communication" that can overcome being with someone who simply does NOT want what you want.

      The goal is to choose someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship that you do, naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things, and last but not least have a mutual depth of love and desire for one another. Compatibility trumps compromise!

      Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!

      There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships: We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them (as is) or move on. The choice is up to us.

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde


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