If you and your spouse are going through a difficult time in your marriage, you may be considering marital therapy. But you also may be reluctant to pursue it if you are wondering, does marriage counseling work? Well, there is no definitive answer to that as the success of any type of counseling always depends on many different factors. Many couples do find it to be extremely beneficial to their relationship. Others feel it was useless or helped very little. This article explores some of the factors that are necessary to answer “yes” to the question, “Does marriage counseling work?”.
You both are committed to working on the relationship
An essential factor for any type of therapy or counseling to be effective is that the person receiving it must be committed to the process and to improving the situation. For couples, if only one of you is committed to working through your relationship problems while the other is resistant, the answer to the question, “does marriage counseling work?” is more than likely going to be “no”.
Counseling is a collaborative process between the client and the therapist. The greatest marriage counselor on the planet is going to have limited success with someone who has no desire to truly work on the relationship. It has to be a two way street. Sometimes resistance to the therapy process can be overcome, particularly with an exceptionally experienced and skilled therapist, but it will be very difficult.
You have a counselor with whom you both feel comfortable
Another key factor with regards to the question, “does marriage counseling work?” is whether or not you have a counselor with whom you both feel comfortable. No therapist is a good fit for everyone. If this is the case, you and your spouse would be better off to find a different therapist to work with. Too much is at stake to try to force a therapeutic relationship that doesn’t feel right for both of you.
You are both willing to do the work
Talking in and of itself will only go so far in terms of bringing about the desired changes in your relationship. While it can be helpful to have a safe place to discuss your feelings and concerns, there needs to be more. Many therapists will give you exercises or homework to do between sessions. These exercises help to reinforce what you are learning in therapy and give you an opportunity to practice new skills which you can discuss each week. The more you and your spouse participate and do the work, the more likely the answer to your question, “does marriage counseling work?” will be yes.
Sticking with it and tolerating the pain
Two other very crucial elements in terms of the question, “does marriage counseling work” are:
• You stick with it
• You are willing to tolerate things getting worse before they get better
A lot of people drop out of counseling at some point. They get discouraged or don’t like the process and assume the answer to, “does marriage counseling work?” is “no”.
One of the main reasons people drop out is because things often get worse before they improve. A good therapist will prepare you for this upfront. Marriage counseling is going to open up some wounds and address some painful issues. Initially, that can seem to create even more pain. But it is akin to the necessity of cleaning out an infected wound so it can finally heal. The cleaning process is painful, but it must happen or the wound will never go away.
If each of these factors is present for you and your spouse, then the answer to the question, “does marriage counseling work?”, is very often a resounding yes. It is not going to be easy, and it may be a lengthy process. But if you really want your marriage to be healthy and strong, the rewards are definitely worth it!