So your marriage is in trouble.
You’re considering marriage counselling as a last resort.
But does marriage counselling work or is it all smoke and mirrors?
The truth is, marriage counselling can be a very effective way to resolve difficulties between spouses, but it’s not a cure-all, nor does it work for everyone.
In fact, there is a very specific demographic of couples for which marriage counselling is most successful. For many other couples, it can place even greater strain on their relationship.
Marriage counselling works best if
- you are very recently experiencing difficulties in your relationship.
- you’re young and/or recently married.
- you are both willing and determined to make the relationship better.
- you can afford a certified, experienced and compassionate counsellor.
- you have a good rapport with your counsellor.
Marriage counselling can be destructive if
- You’ve been experiencing complex marital issues for years.
- One of you is not interested in putting in the work.
- You are under financial strain.
- you’re unable to find the ‘right’ marriage counsellor.
Let me explain. When it comes to facing up to your problems, personal or shared, the process can be a very painful and challenging one. None of us love looking at the personal flaws that may be contributing to the failure of our relationship.
When you add a third person into the equation, most people’s instinct will be to defend themselves to this third party (the counsellor), often against the interests of their partner.
It sounds weird, I know, but in this way a counsellor can actually prove a more destructive ingredient to your relationship’s dynamic than a lack of one.
When Only 1/2 of the Marriage is Willing to Mend
It’s also extremely difficult to extract a positive outcome from counselling if both spouses aren’t 100% invested in making it work.
Counselling is expensive, time consuming, and emotionally draining. In a nutshell, it can be a very unpleasant and trying experience.
If one member of the relationship is at all flighty, resentful or “checked out”, the process can come to an end long before any positive results are noticeable.
Let’s also be very clear on this: if your problems stem from money disputes, paying hundreds of dollars per hour to discuss them will feel at best ironic and at worst counterproductive. Skimping on the cost of a counsellor ain’t gonna improve things either.
You lead busy lives. So does your counsellor. Scheduling a time that works for all three of you is a challenge in itself, and booking your first appointment or the time between appointments could be weeks, in which time things can easily deteriorate more.
When a Family is Involved
On top of all this, if you’ve been married for a long time and have children, a mortgage, and years of unvented anger or resentment or lies to contend with, counselling is going to be a very long journey for all three of you.\
It takes time for a couple to build rapport with a counsellor, for a counsellor to gain both spouses’ trust, and for the spouses to open up to one another (in front of a third person, no less) in an honest and vulnerable way.
The further back in time your problems go (and I’m not just talking marital–plenty of people carry issues they’ve had from childhood into their adulthood and marriage), the more you and your counsellor have to unpack, and the more time and money you will have to spend.
So, with all this in mind it might feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place. But I offer a solution that addresses each of these challenges.
- it can stay between you and your spouse
- it does not require your spouse to be on board (if they’re no longer invested)
- it’s much more affordable than traditional marriage counselling
- it can be implemented immediately and consistently, in your own time
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have to life that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell
I’m speaking of course about my one-on-one marriage coaching. I listen to your specific problems and work through a plan that’s tailored to your specific situation. If that sounds like something you could use, don’t hesitate to contact me.