Does Marriage Counseling Really Work?

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You’ve tried to make it work on your own, but no matter what do you it seems like your marriage just isn’t getting better…
…so you’re thinking about investing in marriage counseling or couples therapy.
But… does marriage counseling really work?
What does it cost? And what are the pros and cons of seeing a marriage counselor?
These are all great questions I’ll be answering below.

Marriage Counseling: Does It Really Work?

First off, though, before we get into whether or not marriage counseling is the right choice, you need to believe…

Marriage Help Is Possible

Whether or not marriage counseling is right for your situation, your relationship is almost certainly not doomed or beyond savingYet.
There are other avenues to fixing a marriage besides therapy or counseling sessions.
I’ve seen marriages come back from the brink of destruction more times than I can count. But, is marriage counseling the way out of the darkness? Does it help?

Is Marriage Counseling Effective?

It’s something I’m asked on an almost daily basis:
“Is marriage counseling just a waste of time and money?”
Parents fighting
The answer is complicated, but I’m going to try and explain it in the simplest way possible.
First off, what is marriage counseling anyway?

How Does Marriage Counseling Work?

If you’ve never been in marriage counseling (or counseling of any kind) before, it can be intimidating. You may be worried that the counselor will judge you or take your partner’s side.
Don’t worry. They’re truly there to help you.
A marriage counselor’s job is to help couples that are having difficulties in their relationship. They listen to both sides, provide advice tailored to your situation, and suggest possible solutions to improve the marriage.
Being a certified marriage counselor or therapist means dealing with a ton of different sensitive issues without judgment. They’re trying to keep you together, not drive you apart.
For example, if you or your partner is cheating, a good couples counselor will not scold or insult you. They work in that field because they’re invested in helping strengthen your marriage and they know that they can’t do that by dragging you down.
You may be saying, “you don’t know my marriage,” and you’re right, but trust me when I say that they’ve seen way worse situations than yours.
If done properly, marriage counseling can teach you to communicate better with your partner, avoid separation or divorce, and save the relationship.
That said, not all couples will benefit from marriage counseling. And not all counselors are created equal.

Marriage Counseling Can Work If…

  • both you and your partner are committed to change and open to the idea of marriage counseling.
  • you are recently married and have only recently started having problems and both of you are willing to stay together.
  • the counselor is experienced, competent, and compassionate.

Marriage Counseling Will Not Work When…

  • your partner is not willing to commit to change or put in the effort to save the marriage.
  • your partner is determined to get a divorce and/or has already initiated the separation process.
  • you or your spouse is set in your ways, stubborn, or against the idea of outside help/therapy.
  • the counselor you’ve chosen is a bad fit or does not have the necessary experience.

Facts & Stats About Marriage Counseling

  • A 2011 paper suggests that marriage counseling helps 7 out of 10 couples.
  • Consumer Reports found that more than 50% of couples who underwent counseling saw their marriages either get worse or remain unchanged.
  • Marriage counseling has the lowest rating of satisfaction of all the different types of psychotherapy. (source)
  • According to a 2013 study, “most therapists practicing today never took a course in couple’s therapy and never did their internships under supervision from someone who’d mastered the art.”

Are There Alternatives To Counseling?

One of the reasons I’ve made a career out of helping couples repair their relationships because I believe there is another, more accessible solution to unhappy marriages than in-person marriage counseling or therapy. That solution is my Mend the Marriage System.
I’ve taken all the knowledge about what makes a marriage work from years as a relationship coach and distilled it down into a foolproof system that can give you the best chance at a happy marriage. Best of all, it costs less than a single session with a marriage counselor.
Mend The Marriage has distinct advantages over marriage counseling. Unlike counseling, which requires both partners to be committed to the process, Mend the Marriage works even if your spouse isn’t willing to try and fix the marriage at present.
Click here to learn more about Mend The Marriage and get started right now.
Whether you choose to register for my program or not, there’s one thing I can say for sure about marriage: a marriage on the brink of collapse will NOT fix itself.
wife and husband see a marriage counsellor

Marriage Problems Won’t Go Away On Their Own

Whether or not you choose marriage counseling, you will need to make positive steps towards fixing your marriage if you want it to get better.
Would you expect to get six-pack abs without ever working out?
No?
Then how can you expect your marriage to magically heal itself? It’s just not realistic.

Marriage Counseling Requires Commitment

In order for traditional couples therapy to be effective, both you and your partner need to be willing to work to fix your relationship.
Couples who only go to one or two sessions with a counsellor or therapist are less likely to achieve their goals than those who are willing to stick it out. This gives a chance for the treatment to work, and it also allows the couple to form a strong connection with the therapist, which has been shown to be a significant component in therapeutic change.
Quite often, one spouse is far more interested in working on repairing the marriage than the other. Your partner may even act like they are interested in saving the marriage but are just trying to get you off their back and avoid further conflict.
In cases like this, marriage counseling often isn’t helpful. You need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “Is my spouse as committed as I am to saving our marriage?”

If You Decide To Work With A Counselor…

Individuals and couples interested in getting into couples therapy can check with their health insurance providers or use online databases such as therapists.psychologytoday.com.
Those without insurance, whose insurance does not cover marital therapy, or who are facing other financial hardship can check for government or charitable organizations who can help (such as through the United Way, 211 in many areas or Unitedway.org) or ask local providers if they can provide a sliding scale.

Final Words of Encouragement

Whether you choose to see a counselor (which can be helpful!) or register for my complete Mend the Marriage guide, I’ll be rooting for you!
I absolutely hate seeing any relationship end prematurely, so I wish you the best of luck in repairing your marriage and enjoying many happy years together in the future.
If your marriage faces specific challenges that are unique to your situation, please consider signing up for my personal marriage coaching.
I’ll work with you to develop a plan tailored to your marriage’s underlying issues. I’ll help you determine whether your marriage is even worth fixing, and I’ll be able to help you build a plan to repair it while there’s still time. Click here to register for 1-on-1 coaching now.

References
  • The Clinical Representativeness of Couple Therapy Outcome Research. Wright, J.; Sabourin, S.; Mondor, J.; McDuff, P.; Mamodhoussen, S. Family Process. Sep 2007, Vol. 46 Issue 3, p301-316.
  • The Efficacy and Effectiveness of Marital and Family Therapy: A Perspective from Meta-Analysis. Shadish, W. R.; Ragsdale, K.; Glaser, R.; Montgomery, L. M. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. Oct 95, Vol. 21 Issue 4, p345-360.
  • Treatment of Marital Conflict and Prevention of Divorce. Bray, J. H.; Jouriles, E. N. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. Oct 95, Vol. 21 Issue 4, p461-473.
  • Marital Therapy: Qualities of Couples Who Fare Better or Worse in Treatment. Hampson, R. B.; Prince, C. C.; Beavers, W. R. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. Oct 99, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p411-424.