By Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Unhappy married couples wonder if marriage counseling works to save marriages and reconnect spouses. Here are four signs couples therapy may be successful.
“Does marriage counseling work?” is commonly asked by married couples who want to save their marriage, but don’t know how to go about this challenging feat. While nobody can predict the future, there are signs that couples therapy can reunite spouses struggling with financial problems, emotional or physical infidelity, or other marriage stressors.
Here four possible signs which suggest that marriage counseling will save a relationship.
Both Spouses are “Invested” in Couples Therapy
“Invested in couples therapy” means that both partners are willing to be honest, straightforward, and open-minded with each other and the counselor. Both spouses want to work through their conflict and issues, and are willing to do what they can to improve their marriage.
Marriage counseling works best if spouses can put aside their reluctance, embarrassment, or shame and openly share their thoughts and feelings.
Married Couples Describe Each Other Positively
Couples therapy has a better chance of succeeding if the partners describe each other in positive terms. If words like “kind”, “fair”, “loving”, and “responsible” are used to describe each other, the marriage may have bonds that aren't easily broken.
Similarly, if a spouse describes her partner as a “good father” or “excellent mother”, then the therapy may have a higher chance of succeeding. After all, if a partner can be good at one type of family relationship, then he or she might be able to learn to be good at another! It’s important for married couples to give each other the benefit of the doubt; the partners must believe that their marriage can succeed.
Both Spouses Are Willing to Do the Work
Saving a marriage doesn’t just happen in the therapist’s office. For marriage counseling to work, both partners need to do their homework. This can include reading books about marriage, attending marriage retreat weekends, or participating in exercises the therapist assigns.
To succeed, couples therapy has to extend beyond a specific time and location. Saving a marriage requires dedication and energy – even after the counseling session is over for the week.
The Couple Found the Right Marriage Counselor
Finding the right therapist can make marriage counseling work even better than expected! It might be helpful to visit three or four therapists for free “information interviews” and then, the couple can choose the counselor whom both spouses feel comfortable with. Ask the therapist for credentials and references.
Marriage problems can take a long time to develop, which means they may need a long time to resolve. If the couple quits therapy after few months and then separates, it may seem like the marriage counseling didn’t work or that it actually caused the separation and divorce. In reality, the marriage didn’t succeed because the couple didn’t work on their problems long enough. To make marriage counseling work, it’s important to stick with it for a minimum of two to six months.
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