Experts say that couples wait an average of six years after issues begin to start marriage counseling. That’s six years of life that could’ve been more fulfilling, pleasurable and meaningful! Part of the problem is that the majority of couples who seek therapy do so because they are in a crisis or near-crisis situation: abuse, infidelity, separation etc. And even then, when divorce is on the table, one or both spouses may simply be going through the motions of counseling just to be able to say, “We tried counseling; it didn’t work” even though they’ve already mentally checked out of the marriage. Much of this could be offset if people were made aware of all the other reasons why couples counseling might be warranted.
Starting at the very beginning, there is about a 30% increase in marital success rates among couples who go through some sort of premarital counseling prior to the wedding. This is a full 30% increase of beating the odds! Proactively working out ahead of time some of the unforeseen situations that may come up is tremendously helpful in having a happy and functional marriage. It’s like having the blueprints of a success tucked in your back pocket along with a disaster aversion plan. But without this mutual understanding of the relationship, couples are often left trying to figure things out as they go and just hope that the walls hold up during the inevitable storms or attacks. And we know that sadly, they often don’t.
In addition to this, marriage counseling can be an excellent tool for rekindling the pure friendship that feels lost in many marriages. You don’t have to be screaming or stonewalling in order to go to counseling; it could simply be a matter of failing to thrive in a way that is satisfying. Life is too short to be going through the motions as “married singles.” Finding a skilled marriage counselor who can assist couples in reconnecting their friendship and intimacy very often saves folks thousands of dollars in therapy and/or divorce later.
One of the other areas where counseling would be strongly indicated is with coparenting and blended families. After a divorce, the parameters of parenting change and the transitions involved with single-parenting or with a new partner can be really stressful to go through! While it seems counterintuitive for post-divorce couples to go into counseling, those who are really committed to the welfare of their children often do so. And the professional help they get in establishing boundaries and routines for their childrens’ sake can be a wonderful aid in healthy living for all parties involved. When a step-parent enters the picture, the need for this is even greater as each person in the family transitions through different expectations and roles.
Lastly there are a host of other things that often get overlooked when couples assess their marriages: finances, job changes, passion, extended family, fertility or other health issues etc. Suffice it to say, marriage counseling shouldn’t be a last resort option for couples who are going through a hard time. It is far more simple and cost-effective to do preventative maintenance on a relationship than to work on a major repair.
Are you curious to learn more about marriage counseling? If so, take a look at the following pieces:
Written by: Elizabeth Peck, a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Candidate at the University of the Cumberlands and a support assistant to Pax Family Counseling.