I’m writing this post because it’s a commonly searched question. I suspect it may be coming from a place of desperation or confusion. Why should we try this? Will it even help us? We’re going to invest our time and money, will it be worth it?Thinking about the couples I’ve worked with over the years, I came up with a quick list of reasons to answer that question: Why try marriage counseling?
Because it’s not so bad now but you want to keep it from getting worse
You can see problems starting to creep in and maybe you’re not miserable yet. You can see if things keep going the way they’re going, it could get really bad. From the perspective of the marriage counselor, this is the best time to come in! Don’t wait. We may be able to fix in a few sessions what would take months to fix if you let it fester and let years of resentment and distance build.
Because you want to be able to say you tried everything you could
Maybe on some level you sense that your relationship is over or on life-support. You’ve given so much to it and it’s meant so much to you, you just can’t let it go without saying you tried everything you could. This is a totally valid reason to seek marriage counseling. Even if your relationship ends, you can look back without regret, knowing you explored all your options. Or you may look back and feel so glad you tried marriage counseling, because it allowed you to stay together.
Because you miss each other
Maybe there aren’t huge fights or conflicts. Maybe you’ve just grown apart and you miss each other. You want some help figuring out how you get back to feeling emotionally connected, like you were best friends and lovers.
Because you’re facing something new or something that you just don’t know how to handle
Whether it’s addiction recovery, infidelity, changes to faith or religion, a death in the family, chronic illness, a sick child, or any number of other challenges that face couples, you may not know how to go about handling the problems that face you. Marriage counseling can help you explore solutions and figure out how to face these challenges together instead of having them tear you apart.
Because you’re stuck
Some couples feel like they are just spinning their wheels. They may be stuck in negativity, stuck in emotional distance, stuck in a sex desert and not know how to get out. A marriage counselor (along with your hard work) can help get you unstuck.
Because there is so much good and in many ways you are good to each other and for each other
You’re just not at a place yet where the costs outweigh the benefits. You still love your spouse. You hate that you are hurting each other or not meeting each other’s needs.
Because you still love your spouse and have hope that it can get better
You want to find your way back to love. You have hope that the person you fell in love with is still there, that you can still make each other’s dreams come true and live the life together you always wanted.
Because you don’t want to get divorced
This one really doesn’t need explanation.
Because one of you had an affair
You might be thinking that there is no recovery from infidelity. But that’s actually not true. Lots of couples repair the damage infidelity causes and rebuild trusting, satisfying relationships. You can read more about infidelity myths in the next post.
Because you want to know if your marriage can be saved
You may be ambivalent. You don’t know for sure that you want to get divorced or that you want to stay together. I can’t tell you for certain whether your marriage can be saved; a lot of that depends on you and your partner. What I can do is give you a thorough analysis of your relationship, talk to you about its strong and weak points, and discuss what change would look like if you decide you want to work on it. This is part of the relationship checkup I do with all couples. You can read more about it here.
Because you can’t believe how terrible your spouse has been and want someone else to set them straight
I included this one as a little bit of a joke. It is a real reason people try marriage counseling. Unfortunately, nothing is quite that simple. Relationship problems are complex, cyclical, and systemic. While it sounds nice, saying to one person “you’re wrong. Stop it.” is not a realistic answer. If that worked, you probably wouldn’t be here, reading my blog about why to try marriage counseling. That said, expert help from a third party can help. My first draft said ‘expert help from a neutral party.’ I decided to change that because I’m not neutral and disinterested. I’m on the side of your marriage. When you come for marriage counseling, I’m looking at what’s best for your relationship. I’m helping you find solutions that allow you both to be your best selves.
If you think you’d like to try marriage counseling with me, email me or give me a call at 951-430-3011. I do a free phone consultation. We can discuss what you’re facing. You can meet me and decide if you think working together would be a good fit for you.