Should We Consider Marriage Counseling?

Most counselors would tell you that they wish you consider marriage counseling before contemplating a divorce.  Nevertheless, I would like to think it is never too late to salvage the relationship if both parties are committed to the effort.  Marriage counseling as most people think of it is generally short-term therapy consisting of between six and a dozen sessions.  However, some types of therapy may be more ongoing.

I recently heard from one couple who had successfully saved their marriage after almost divorcing only two years into the marriage.  That have now been married six years and still see a marriage counselor on a monthly or bi-monthly basis just "to keep things running smooth."  This couple learned that marriage counseling not only helps them deal with current issues they are having but also how to spot the mole hills before either party makes them into giant mountains.  People often find that marriage counseling not only strengthens their relationship, but also helps their overall mental health because problems in a relationship also usually lead to other personal problems such as chronic depression, anxiety, and stress.

A word of warning if you consider marriage counseling; assuming the counselor is doing his job correctly, both parties should be made to feel somewhat uncomfortable during the process.  That is just part of change and obviously if you want the counseling to work, a change is going to have to take place.  Additionally, in order to give the counseling a real opportunity to succeed both parties need to make some commitments:

   Commit to attending a set number of sessions.  Most counselors would recommend at least six sessions.
   Commit to improving the relationship
   Do not make any big moves in dissolving the marriage.  This may include actually filing for divorce, moving out of the house, or continuing a relationship with a paramour
   Follow the recommendations of the counselor.

Keep in mind when looking for a counselor that different counselors have different approaches.  Some counselors are focused solely on maintaining the relationship absent abuse or danger.  Other therapists are more focused on the mental health of the individuals involved and remain somewhat neutral as to saving the marriage.  Regardless, the survival of a marriage is a long-term effort and commitment.  Setting aside time to work on your relationship is important to its success.

Photo courtesy of Pascal

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