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Today, I had a couple who told me that marriage counseling with me literally saved their marriage. While you may be wondering if it can save your marriage, just know that it is possible!
Marriage can be challenging even for the best relationships. It requires effort from both people, effective communication, and commitment to growing as a couple. There are several problems that take couples to a hopeless place regarding the future of their marriage--communication issues and constant fighting, infidelity and other betrayals that lead to broken trust, and the erosion of emotional connection leading them to feeling like roommates. Marriage counseling can help couples work through problems such as these to find solutions and feel like a team again.
"Will marriage counseling save my marriage?" is a common question couples ask when considering therapy. While there is never a guarantee because each couples situation is unique, with motivation and the right approach, marriage counseling can help couples repair and improve their relationship.
Signs your relationship may benefit from marriage counseling
To know if marriage counseling can help save your relationship, you first have to do an assessment to see what relationship concerns might be going on. Here are some signs that your relationship could benefit from marriage counseling:
If communication is breaking down, then it may be time to consider marriage counseling. Some signs of communication breakdown include: constant fights and arguments, arguments where the tension lasts for days, conflict always leads to communication spiral that feels out of control, its difficult for your to share your thoughts and feelings, you feel like your partner doesn't understand you when you do share, and nothing ever gets resolved when you do discuss challenges
INFIDELITY & BETRAYALS
Infidelity and betrayals can be devastating to a relationship and often leads to a breakdown in trust. Couples who stay together often use marriage counseling to help them understanding any underlying problems that led to the betrayal and work to rebuild trust in the relationship.
FEELING LIKE ROOMMATES
Feeling like roommates is the result of emotionally disconnection and is often coping strategy to avoid conflict in the relationship. If your relationship is feeling emotionally distant, disconnected, and like roommates, then counseling can help you reconnect and feel emotionally close again.
What to expect in marriage counseling
Marriage counseling involves weekly meetings, typically 50 - 90 minutes long, with a licensed therapist or counselor who specializes in helping couples with relationship problems. The first 3-4 sessions consist of an assessment period where the marriage counselor gets to know you both, your relationship history, and the goals for marriage counseling. After the assessment, the weekly marriage counseling sessions will help you identify and work through any underlying problems while also teaching you new relationship and communication skills to help improve your relationship.
There are many different types of marriage counseling, including emotionally focused couples therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Each type of therapy has its own ay of helping couples work through problems and it is important to make sure your work with a marriage counselor who's approach fits well for you. You can learn more about the types of marriage counseling here.
Regardless of the approach to marriage counseling, the role of the couples therapist stays the same. They work to provide a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental and neutral space for couples to work together as a team to solve relationship problems. They help facilitate conversations that are hard to have at home and help guide you on how to improve your communication.
The duration of couples counseling can vary from several months to several years depending on the severity of the issues couples come in with. It is important to be committed to the long-term process of building sustainable habits that will help your relationship for the long haul. Your marriage counselor will likely be checking in with you every few months to make sure it marriage counselings still feels helpful and that progress is being made toward your goals. Even after marriage counseling has ended, some couples find it helpful to do periodic check-in for continued support and maintenance.
There are any benefits to marriage counseling and it can have a positive impact on several areas of your life even outside of your relationship. Here are a few of the most common benefits:
Marriage counseling often helps couples learn to communicate more clearly and effectively so both partners can be better understood. When communication is effective and productive, it often naturally leads to great emotional connection as well.
Whether it's from a infidelity, another type of betrayal, or if trust has just eroded over time, marriage counseling helps couples rebuild trust. By repair the relationship foundation, couples can move forward with a stronger relationship together.
Learning to resolve conflict in a kind and patient way that leads to mutually agreeable outcomes is a big benefit of marriage counseling. While conflict is inevitable, you can learn to resolve conflict in constructive and healthy ways.
A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF EACH OTHER
As communication and conflict resolution improve, couple often have a better understanding of themselves and their partners intentions. As couples express their thoughts, feeling, wants, and needs in a clear way, this leads to a greater understanding of each other as well ass greater empathy and emotional closeness.
All of the above benefits also help couple rekindle emotional intimacy. As emotional closeness grows and they rediscover the love that brought them together, couples often find their physical intimacy being reignited as well.
When marriage counseling might not be the right choice
In most cases, marriage counseling can be beneficial. However, there are some case by case situations where marriage counseling may not be the right option. If in doubt, consider talking to a licensed marriage counselor to see if marriage counseling can help in your situation.
CASES OF ABUSE
If your partner is physically or emotionally abusive, then safety is always the first priority over saving the marriage. About 80% of relationship will experience violence at some point in the relationship, and in the majority of couples the violence is bi-directional. If the violence happens infrequently, both people view it as a problem, and both are wanting to change it--then marriage counseling can help. However, if you are feeling like it wouldn't be safe to share in marriage counseling because your partner may become violent later at something you said, then marriage counseling is not the best option. In this situation, you may need to seeking help from a domestic violence organization and an individual therapist.
UNRESOLVED MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
In most cases, relationship problem are making mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety worse. In these cases, marriage counseling is even more helpful than individual counseling at helping improve both the relationship but also the individual mental heath symptoms. There are some times where individual counseling may be needed either before or at the same time as marriage counseling--these situation include severe substance abuse and addiction, severe trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, severe eating disorders, and in untreated bipolar or schizophrenic diagnoses. When in doubt, it's best to ask a medical professional if marriage counseling could be helpful at the same time as you work on individual mental health concerns.
WHEN ONE PARTNER ISN'T WILLING TO PARTICIPATE
For marriage counseling to be helpful, both partners need to be willing to fully participate in the process. If one partner isn't willing to participate, the marriage counseling won't be helpful. In the ideal world, both partners would attend couples counseling to work on repairing the marriage. However, when this is not the case, you can make some progress on relationship goals through individual counseling with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
WHEN SOMEONE HAS DECIDED TO END THE RELATIONSHIP
If someone is on the fence about whether or not to separate or divorce, marriage counseling can still be helpful to help you both come to a decision about the future of the relationship. If the decision to separate or divorce has already been made, then family therapy can be helpful to assist you in navigating the separation especially if kids are involved. However, marriage counseling is rarely helpful at saving the relationship when one person has already decided to the leave the relationship.
"Will marriage counseling save my marriage?"
Will marriage counseling save your marriage? It's absolutely possible! Marriage counseling helps couples work through relationship problems in order to improve their marriage. However, it's important to have an open mind and for both partners to be committed to the process. Couples who are willing to put in effort to improve their relationship with the help of a trained marriage counselor can experience many benefits. If you are struggling in your marriage and concerned about separation or divorce, please seek out the help of a trained and experienced marriage counselor who can help you improve your relationship. Seeking out help just might save your marriage.
Looking to start marriage counseling?
Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling provides online Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling, as well as weekend-long Marriage Intensives, throughout the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. Click the button below to schedule a complimentary consult.
About the Author
My podcast, blogs, videos, newsletters, and products are general information for educational purposes only; they are not psychotherapy and not a replacement for therapy. The information provided is not intended to be therapy or psychological advice; and nothing I post should be considered professional advice. The information provided does not constitute the formation of a therapist-patient relationship.
I cannot answer questions regarding your specific situation; you should consult your doctor or mental health provider regarding advice and support for your health and well being. If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, you should call 911, report to your local ER, or call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling provides marriage counseling, weekend-long marriage intensives, and therapist training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT). Online couples counseling services are available in Virginia Beach Virginia, and throughout the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada.