Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Young couple with a problem to consult a psychologist


Investing Time and Effort Into Your Relationship

The decision to pursue marriage counseling can be a step in the right direction for couples experiencing problems in their relationship. The success of counseling relies on various factors, many of which are within your control. Choosing an experienced, qualified counselor whose goal is to improve your marriage increases your chances for success. Going into counseling with a positive attitude and a commitment to rebuilding your marriage also makes therapy more effective.

What Is Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling, sometimes referred to as “couples therapy,” helps people in relationships work through their problems. Marriage counselor can help a couple navigate through a variety of problems, such as financial difficulties, parenting differences, infidelity and poor communication. The goal of marriage counseling is to help couples strengthen and improve their relationship. Sessions are typically done together with your partner, although some sessions may occur on an individual basis. Each of you will have opportunities to discuss the strengths and areas of need in your marriage. The counselor will help facilitate discussions and guide you and your partner toward resolutions. Counseling may be conducted short term, consisting of only a few sessions that take place weekly. Other couples counseling may require a longer commitment, spanning months. Your counselor will help set the direction for each session and determine when therapy is complete.

Tips to Make Counseling Successful

Waiting until your relationship has completely deteriorated before seeking help can make counseling less successful. If you or your partner, or both of you, have already checked out of the marriage, counseling may not be effective. It’s best if you begin couples therapy while you and your partner are still committed to your marriage and to putting in the time and effort to improve it. Counseling also works best if couples have a positive attitude about therapy. Going in with a preconceived notion that counseling isn’t for you and won’t work is not going to help your marriage. It’s also important that both partners speak openly and honestly during sessions. This can be challenging initially, but a good counselor will help facilitate the conversations. Lastly, it is very helpful if you take a step back and try to objectively look at your own behavior in your marriage. Pointing the finger at your partner and refusing to accept any responsibility for the issues in your relationship decrease your chances of success.

Finding a Counselor

For counseling to be effective, you need to find a well-qualified therapist. Seek out someone who specializes in couples therapy, which often uses an approach very different from individual counseling. Ask the therapist about his educational background and experience. If you have friends or family members who have used a counselor, and you’re not shy about asking, ask them if they can recommend their therapist. Once you have found a counselor, make sure his focus is on resolving the issues in your marriage, not ending the relationship. A good counselor should listen carefully and respect both your and your partner’s views and make you feel at ease as you discuss your problems. Your counselor should collaborate with you and your partner on setting goals, and each session should have a clear direction.

If you and your partner are exploring the possibility of marriage counseling, you have already taken the first step in rebuilding your relationship. Putting in the time and effort to find a good therapist, going in with an open mind and working toward resolving your differences—all can help lead to a stronger marriage with renewed commitment.