Maybe you’ve been struggling for a while or maybe the fights, the distance, and the confusion is relatively new. Either way, if you find yourself wondering whether or not you need marriage counseling, you may. Marriage counseling is more common than you might think. Many couples each year choose to attend marriage counseling to hopefully improve their relationship. The decision to enter marriage counseling will depend not only on your thoughts, but on those of your partner.
Marriage counseling is a partner process. It involves both partners showing up and being committed to the process. In marriage counseling, the psychologist or therapist, is not interested in saving the relationship or destroying it. It’s important to realize that the therapist is looking to help you and your partner explore both paths. They are looking to find the ways in which your relationship is weak and fragmented. They will help you identify ways in which you could fix your relationship, but you may decide that you don’t want to fix your relationship. Some marriages end after marriage counseling because both partners decide that they don’t want to fight for the relationship. They feel the differences are too large and they feel they would happier apart. This is sometimes why marriage counseling is said “not to work” or to be “about splitting up relationships” rather than a way to save a marriage. The truth is that it’s all about your marriage. It isn’t about the therapist and a good therapist knows this.
If you are considering entering marriage counseling, you need to first think about the commitment required. If you and your partner are not committed to being open, honest, and willing to try new things…therapy will be unsuccessful. The goal with marriage counseling is to help couples make thoughtful decisions about strengthening their relationship or ending it. It is most helpful to have a person who can listen to the problems that face you and your partner, and then provide unbiased feedback. Your therapist will be like a moderator in a business meeting, someone who is not partial to either side and hoping to help you resolve the matters at hand. These sessions may be intense, difficult, and emotional. The work accompanying therapy will require effort and it isn’t easy. I can promise you that if you find a competent therapist who specializes in marriage counseling and you put forth the time, effort, and commitment to the work, you will find yourself where you need to be.
There are no definitive answers to the question, “When is it time to enter marriage counseling?” The answer lies with you and your partner. If there are problems in your relationship that you would like to resolve, then go. Couples therapy is often short-term and a few sessions may leave you with renewed energy and conflicts resolved. If you find that you and your partner cannot work through a particular problem, seek help before you find yourself in a bad place. If you are already in a bad place within your marriage, seek help before it ends on its own. Entering marriage counseling keeps you in control of your relationship by helping you to explore all of the possible options available to you and your partner.