Is it Time for Marriage Therapy?
As a Marriage Counseling practice, we receive calls all the time asking this same question: Is it time for marriage therapy?
While the answer to that question is unique to the relationship and the situation, I want to give you some of the knowledge that we’ve gained through our practice and helping hundreds of couples.
Ongoing conflict in marriages can build over time and lead to long-term mistrust, decreased intimacy, and even divorce. This ongoing and accumulated strain on a relationship can bleed over and impact each individual, their friendships, careers, and, of course, their children. In short, struggles between married or dating couples can cause far reaching and dramatic effects on the lives of couples as well as those around them.
Anger and resentment in a marriage can cause stress, anxiety, and depression as well as other emotional turmoil.
Commitment within a marriage can begin to fade over time and contribute to infidelity.
Marriage Therapy Provides Hope and Healing
Thankfully, couples therapy can help couples to begin to turn things around so that their relationship can improve and become emotionally and physically satisfying for both parties.
The even better news is that the benefits provided by marriage counseling can last for many years, often repairing years of struggle and strife.
Couples Who Reach Out For Help Early, Benefit Most
The problem is, many couples do not seek out marriage therapy until they are nearing the end of their rope. Until the relationship is in crisis. Many couples try to hang on until the very end, subjecting themselves to frustration, anger, anxiety, stress, and overall emotional turmoil from arguments, fighting, infidelity, and misunderstanding until one of the pair decides to reach out to a marriage counselor. Is it ever too late?
We get these calls all the time from a husband or wife who is desperately seeking a way to repair their broken relationship. Hear the stories of brokenness and anguish. We schedule these couples for their initial relationship counseling appointment. On the day of the appointment, we often get a call to ask if it’s okay for just one of the pair to come to the counseling appointment.
Sometimes they cancel the appointment altogether, saying that they’ve decided to just give up on their marriage.
This is heartbreaking. As a marriage therapy practice, our therapists strive daily to see couples stay together. We want to see positive, uplifting marriages that are fulfilling for both husbands and wives.
On the other hand, we have couples who come in for pre-marital counseling or counseling shortly after getting married. These couples learn the tools and skills necessary to strengthen their relationships for the long haul.
They learn to communicate.
They learn to put one another first.
They learn to continue to date one another.
They learn to stick together through the good times and the hard times.
Stigma Against Couples Therapy
There are many reasons why couples often fail to seek marriage therapy before they are in a crisis. Here are a few examples of how stigma against couples therapy can affect your relationship:
- Couples often think that their arguments are not a big deal, though they harbor resentment and hurt feelings.
- Some couples think that going to couples counseling means that the couple is incapable of handling their own issues, or that they are admitting weakness.
- Often one or both parties feels some shame or guilt over not being able to make the marriage work and they don’t want to face it, or be blamed for it.
- Sometimes one or both partners has secrets that they do not want to be brought into the open during therapy appointments.
- Many couples worry about the financial investment required for counseling and wonder if it is worthwhile.
- Couples often hate to admit that their fights, arguments, emotional disconnection, and ongoing struggles are as pervasive as they are, so they try to pretend that everything is okay.
- Some couples fear that bringing up their issues in therapy will make their relationship even worse.
There is no way to sugar coat the fact that bringing up issues and hurts within a relationship is challenging within couples therapy.
However, not confronting and pursuing help in working through the emotional issues that are destroying a marriage can create far bigger problems in the relationship over the long term. Couples Therapy clients often find that the short-term challenges of confronting the issues within their relationship are well worth the long-term improvements in the relationship that can be found by attending marriage counseling.
Marriage counseling can help couples to regain their trust, their passion, and their connection with one another, with little financial investment compared to the alternatives if the relationship falls apart.
Most couples find that marriage counseling will last 8-10 sessions, leading to extraordinary improvement and lifelong impact with a financial investment of only $1000-$1500 total. This is hardly a price tag that should cause couples to allow their relationship and all that they have worked together to build, fall apart.
So, Is It Time For Marriage Therapy?
In the United States, 40-50% of all first marriages end in divorce. These are staggering statistics that are heartbreaking to our team of couples therapists. Some couples who do not divorce stay together in an unhappy relationship as a result of family pressure, cultural stigma, children, for financial reasons, or as a result of shame.
Here are some signs that you and your partner may need to seriously consider marriage therapy to improve your relationship:
- Conflict has gotten increasingly escalated in the relationship.
- You are unable to communicate with one another in a way that both can hear and understand.
- Emotions have fled from your relationship, leaving one or both partners uncaring and broken.
- You are lonely in your relationship.
- You feel that you and your spouse have begun to fall out of love with one another.
- There are trust issues or infidelity.
- Fear has crept into your relationship as escalations have increased in magnitude.
- One or both partners feel unsupported and dismissed.
- Arguments and tension are beginning to impact relationships with children, family members, friends, or work.
- Sexual intimacy has become a thing of the past, with one or neither partner feeling the same desire they once felt.
- Any type of abuse has occurred in the home.
- Parenting conflicts have caused strain on the relationship.
- Financial disagreements have caused relationship discord.
- One partner is too demanding or overbearing and decision making is mostly based upon the desires of one partner.
A marriage therapist can help with all of the issues listed above, helping couples to learn to communicate effectively and in a way that improves the relationship for both parties. Couples counselors have the training and skills required to help you keep your relationship out of conflict, leading couples to build a happy, healthy marriage in which both partners are satisfied.