Does Marriage Counseling Work? Sometimes it doesn't
All couples experience ups and downs in their relationships. It is not only common, but expected that as people grow, age and change, so will their relationships. When experiencing difficulty, some couples turn to a trusted personal resource for help, and others may try to figure things out on their own. However, some couples look to counseling in the hopes that a relationship expert can provide important insights to guide them in a better direction.
Couples counseling can be an effective way to improve personal relationships. A professional therapist can help couples understand their relational patterns, provide practical tools to improve their relationships as well as a safe place to process relationship ruptures. Change does happen during therapy, and for many, it can be an invaluable experience.
However, there can be times when counseling may not be the answer. Readiness for change is a critical ingredient for success. So how do you know if when couples counseling may not be enough?
It is not the right time
It just might not be right time for couples counseling. For change to be lasting, both people in the relationship must commit to changing their behaviors. If you are dragging your partner into the process, or giving ultimatums, it is unlikely that your partner will be open to the influence and advice of a marriage counselor. In this situation, save your money and focus instead on convincing your partner that getting outside help is a reasonable and beneficial step.
You have reached the end of the road
As hard as it is to consider, your marriage or relationship may have run its course and has arrived at its end. Some couples enter into counseling after years of unhappiness and want immediate fixes, but hurt feelings and pain that have compounded over the course of years are complex and take time to unravel and for new behaviors to take hold. This is not to say that couples counseling can’t make a positive impact sooner than later – it can, but lasting change will take time and commitment. And, most importantly, the relationship has to be something both parties want to save.
You are having an affair, and don’t want to end it
If one partner is having an affair and is not willing to end the relationship, couples counseling can do little to restore the primary relationship. However, counseling can help support the injured party and explore what may have contributed to the affair. For couples counseling to be the most successful, both parties need to be fully in the game and committed to personal change.