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Does Marriage Counseling Actually Work?

Marriages can go sour for a multitude of reasons. Often, communication about these issues is severely lacking leading up to a divorce. When a marriage is in turmoil, two loving individuals might try to find different ways to reconnect.

Date nights, sharing hobbies, and other efforts to remind each other why each person chose to be in the relationship could help, but when underlying issues continue to eat away at both spouses, these efforts can be futile. Though some partners might be reluctant to try it, marriage counseling can carry the potential for change, especially in communication-based issues.

Factors to Consider Before Seeking Counseling

Before choosing to pursue marriage counseling, several factors might already impact the success of your counseling sessions:

  • Length of issues – Sometimes, trying to work issues out on your own for too long can prove nightmarish for the outcome of your marriage. Alternatively, waiting too long to address certain issues could prevent any real leeway from occurring during therapy. Sometimes, once enough damage is done, a marriage is beyond repairing.
  • Motivation – Sometimes spouses go to counseling just to say they put the effort in even if they don’t put their heart into it. This often occurs when one spouse is no longer interested in pursuing the marriage emotionally.
  • Abuse – If you suffer from an abusive relationship, counseling probably won’t save your marriage. Even though it might be disheartening to hear, abusers often don’t have real issues with their spouse that can be fixed – individual therapy might be best suited for these individuals. Additionally, those who are victims of an abusive relationship should seek help – not counseling.

What Should I Look for in a Counseling Session?

When considering marriage counseling as an option, there are several key factors to look for in a session that could either make or break the marriage. If you’re considering counseling to help save your marriage, try to find a form of counseling that is most effective.

The Therapist

A good therapist is one of the biggest indicators of how well a marriage counseling session will go. An effective counselor is not one who has general experience in the field of psychology. Generally good marriage counselors receive training specifically geared to conducting this type of therapy session. Seeing a specialist is exceedingly more successful in helping to repair marriages than those that are generally knowledgeable about therapy in general.

Type of Therapy

Much like individual counseling, there are different formats of counseling that have more – or less – potential to help. Emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) has shown tremendous success in reuniting spouses in a failing marriage. EFT is essential in fostering healthy attachment. Statistically, this form of therapy has proven its utility in addressing each spouse’s emotional cycles. By opening up to each other’s emotional cycles, each spouse fosters a greater understanding for each other, which 90% of EFT users reporting improvement in their marriage.

Making sure to find an effective therapist that uses methods that work for your specific method is important to ensure that neither you nor your spouse are just wasting your time.

Though marriage counseling could be a saving grace for some, it could still end in divorce for others. It is important to remember that marriage counseling only works if, at their core, both spouses are truly willing to move forward with each other emotionally. Some individuals check out of a marriage long before counseling takes place, which ultimately leads to fruitless counseling sessions. At the very least, taking part in marriage counseling could give both partners the closure they need to see that their relationship is either over or worth saving. This in itself is enough of a reason to try counseling, at least once.