While we all hope to live happily ever after with our spouses, this goal does not always work out. Dynamics in a marriage are constantly changing. People lose their jobs. Some cheat on their spouses. Some develop addictions. Couples often fall out of love and end up going through the motions. They may live their lives barely speaking to each other. They may even sleep in separate bedrooms.
If this describes your marriage, you may wonder, at what point do you call it quits? When is divorce the right option?
Before you call a lawyer, you may want to consider marriage counseling. Marriage counseling is often sought as a last-ditch effort to save a couple’s marriage. Couples work with a licensed counselor who specializes in marriages and relationships. These professionals help resolve conflicts while encouraging the parties to improve their listening and communication skills. These skills are crucial in any relationship, and if a couple can make the effort, there is a chance their marriage can greatly improve. Divorce may even be avoided altogether.
Will marriage counseling work for you? It depends on various factors. It tends to work well for problems such as a lack of intimacy, frequent arguing, infidelity, parenting issues, and substance abuse. If you are done struggling with a rocky marriage, discover the pros and cons of therapy sessions for you and your spouse.
What Does Marriage Counseling Entail?
The first counseling session will likely be more informational than anything. This is a chance for the therapist to meet the couple and learn about the problems they are experiencing in their marriage. The therapist will focus on building rapport and helping the parties understand the counseling process. The couple should know what to expect so they will feel more comfortable discussing their feelings and grievances.
The therapist will work to understand each party’s psychosocial history. This is important, as a person’s history shapes his or her views on a variety of topics, from handling conflict to communicating to dealing with stress. These views may be shaped by family, class, experience, or culture. Each session is a way for each party to open up with each other and share their concerns. Therapy sessions also focus on empathy, which is critical in romantic relationships. Without empathy for each other, the marriage will not thrive.
These goals are accomplished through cognitive behavioral therapy. This concept is used to help people understand their thought processes and moods and talk themselves through challenges. Evaluating moods and thoughts helps a person communicate better. The couple will develop insight that will help them become more aware of their communication styles, which can be verbal or non-verbal. When communication improves, the needs of both parties are more likely met. This in turn improves their relationship with their spouse.
Pros and Cons of Marriage Counseling
Great success has been reported with marriage counseling. With the right setting, commitment, and energy, it is highly effective. 70% of couples who have gone through the process have experienced great satisfaction with their marriage. Couples report better communication with each other. They feel more empathy toward each other and are more willing to support each other. Intimacy improves and there is a stronger connection between them. Couples feel more productive inside and outside of the home.
The best part is that marriage counseling is not meant to be a lifelong commitment. Sessions tend to last about 12 weeks, with most couples seeing improvement in the first month or two.
However, not all problems or marriages can be fixed with marriage counseling. Counselors are there to facilitate the process and help as much as possible, but they cannot be expected to fix a marriage. That is up to the spouses.
In many cases, the problems in a marriage have gone on for way too long and they are at a point at which nothing can fix them. The longer a couple waits, the harder it is for treatment for work.
If verbal or physical abuse is an issue, then marriage counseling likely will not work. It is hard to talk about abuse with a stranger, especially when the abusive party is present.
Mental illness and addiction can be hard to treat in a counseling session. Marriage counselors are not generally psychiatrists and therefore cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe medications. If these elements are present, you will need to see a doctor beforehand.
In some cases, the therapist is not qualified to help the couple due to inadequate training. Sometimes there is no rapport and the parties feel uncomfortable with each other.
Just like with anything, results take time and effort. No marriage will be saved in just one session. Progress could take a month or two, so keep at it. It takes from both parties, so if your spouse refuses to take the therapist’s advice or refuses to go altogether, then therapy may not work for you.
Seek Legal Help
If you are tired of trying to make your marriage work, you may want to try counseling as a last resort. Many couples have seen results and have even saved their marriage due to a few sessions with an experienced therapist. However, it takes effort from both parties to make a marriage work.
If marriage counseling has not improved your marriage, it may be time to take the next step. A divorce will end a painful marriage and allow you to move on. Seek help from Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. He can help you through this difficult time and offer you options to make your divorce less stressful. Call (954) 346-6464 to schedule a consultation.