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How Do You Know if Your Marriage Needs Counseling?

Many couples see marriage counseling as a last resort or as something that is only for “failed relationships,” but this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth! Couples therapy can help strengthen relationships in any stage or under any amount of stress. Whether you’re preparing to move in together, planning a wedding, or celebrating the arrival of your third child, couples therapy can help find small cracks and fix them before they spread. Or if you and your partner are facing major challenges, couples counseling can help you overcome them together.

One of the best marriage counseling tips is to get started sooner rather than later. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all. In this article, we’ll go over some of the common signs that you and your partner should consider couples therapy. Let’s dive in.

Do We Need Marriage Counseling?

Relationships are hard. Sometimes, we need an outside perspective to separate us from frustrations and look at the bigger picture. Working with a marriage counselor gives you access to their outside perspective, their  experience in healing relationships, and their desire to use their skills towards the best outcome for you and your partner.

Seeking the help of a marriage counselor can have four key benefits, helping you and your partner to:

  1. Identify the root causes of your relationship issues and negative feelings
  2. Resolve budding issues before they grow into major problems 
  3. Actively pursue self-improvement that helps your relationship
  4. Rekindle your relationship and deepen intimacy

How Often Should Couples Go to Therapy?

While there is no set amount of time that couples therapy can last for, most couples attend therapy for 4-10 months. During the duration of their therapy, couples typically attend 2-4 sessions per month.

However, when scheduling your couples therapy sessions, it’s important to remember that each couple is unique. How long it takes for you and your partner to see results and how often you find it beneficial to attend sessions can—and often will—vary greatly from other couples. 

How Do You Know When Your Marriage Needs Help?

You and your partner don’t have to wait for a catastrophe to start attending marriage counseling. In fact, marriage counseling works well as preventive care. If you identify problems while they’re small, you can overcome them together before they threaten the stability of your relationship. Early counseling  also helps couples plan and achieve their common goals and sets a solid foundation for the rest of your journey.

Of course, marriage counseling can also be extremely valuable even in the hardest of times for your relationship.

Whichever stage your relationship is in, here are some of the most common signs that you and your partner could benefit from marriage counseling:

  • You have mismatched desires for intimacy: Emotional and physical intimacy can enhance relationships when both partners are on the same page for what they prefer to give and receive. However, if one partner has expectations that the other partner doesn’t fulfill, it can cause frustrations for both people. Marriage counseling can help each partner communicate their desire for giving and receiving intimacy and help couples rekindle their desire for intimacy they felt early on in the relationship.

  • You are holding onto hidden feelings of resentment or bitterness: Bottled up feelings hurt the person holding them and can go unnoticed by their partner until they erupt into negative actions. Marriage counseling gives couples a safe space to express their feelings, so they can work with their partner on ways to resolve what causes those feelings of resentment and bitterness. 

  • You avoid spending social time together: It’s important for each partner to maintain their own life and sense of identity. Too much codependency can place an unreasonable burden on someone to provide everything for their partner. However, having little to no connection outside of the home can also be a sign of trouble. Marriage counseling provides an opportunity for couples to analyze why they prefer spending so much time apart and look for ways they can integrate portions of their social life. 

  • You have arguments that are lasting, unresolved, and repetitive: Arguments are a part of every relationship, and in many cases, they are a healthy way to communicate boundaries and come to a resolution. However, arguments that come up again and again can be a sign of underlying issues. Marriage counseling can help couples get to the root of repetitive arguments, so they can settle those disputes and come out stronger for it. 

  • You feel the need to keep major and minor secrets: Keeping important things from your partner—like major financial decisions—can ruin the trust in a relationship. While this may seem obvious to many couples, it’s also important to be honest about the little things, too, like friendships and where you spend your time when you’re away from your partner. Marriage counseling can help couples uncover why they feel the need to keep both major and minor secrets, and develop a plan to share those secrets to be more honest going forward. 

  • You lack the ability to communicate without fear: Relationships need communication to remain healthy, but sometimes, one or both partners find it hard to express what they’re feeling. Fear of embarrassment, not being understood, or negative repercussions (like shouting or violence) can keep individuals from expressing what they’re actually feeling. Marriage counseling creates a space in which each partner can voice what they’re feeling, while a counselor moderates the conversation so each party can be heard, safe, and understood. 

If you feel that something isn’t right in your relationship, it may be tempting to find reasons not to go to therapy. These reasons are often rooted in uncertainty, so let’s take a closer look at why someone might not want to go to couples therapy:

Can a Marriage Be Saved Without Counseling?

In some situations, a couple can save their marriage without counseling if they have the tools to improve their relationship and the dedication to see the process through. However, it’s often beneficial to work with a professional because they have experience working through the types of problems that you’re going through. It can also be beneficial to meet with an impartial third party for an unbiased perspective.

A common fear—and reason that some people avoid counseling—is that a marriage counselor could encourage divorce. However, at Well Marriage Center, our counselors are marriage-positive and do not recommend divorce. We believe that your relationship is worth saving, can be saved, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

How Do You Know If It’s Too Late for Marriage Counseling?

It’s never too late for marriage counseling unless either you or your partner no longer wish to stay together. One of the reasons that couples may avoid counseling is because they don’t want to be told that it’s too late to heal their relationship. However, the fact that both members don’t want their relationship to end is a really good sign that it can be saved. Marriage counselors can provide the tools, space, and consistency for couples to recommit to their relationship and find ways to improve it together.

Find a Way Forward with Well Marriage Center

If your relationship feels tense, stale, or disconnected, it doesn’t mean it’s time to call it quits. Instead, consider working with a couples therapist to find ways to heal and rekindle your relationship. You want your relationship to succeed, and at Well Marriage Center, our professionals do, too. 

Give your relationship the time, space, and chance to recover. Visit our website to learn more, and if you’re ready to sign up, fill out our Intake Form to get started. 




7 Marriage Counseling Questions to Strengthen Your Relationship

Marriage counseling questions allow you and your partner to dig deeply into issues, identify root causes, and remember why you fell in love in the first place. A couples therapist can guide you through these questions, offering marriage counseling tips to promote productive conversations. Some answers might be hard to hear, but the resulting discussions usually lead to a healthier, stronger relationship. 

But what questions are asked during couples therapy, exactly? If you haven’t been to couples therapy before, it’s helpful to know what to expect. A great place to start is this list of the seven most popular marriage counseling questions compiled by our relationship experts here at Well Marriage Center.

What Kinds of Questions Do Marriage Counselors Ask?

When you first start counseling, there are common questions marriage counselors ask so they know how they can best assist you. Here are a few you might encounter: 

  • What’s the timeline of your relationship?

You’ll need to spend some time in your initial counseling sessions giving your therapist the background story of your relationship. Run through the major events, like getting married, having kids, changing jobs, experiencing trauma, and anything else that sticks out to you. With this context, your counselor can provide unique solutions to support you and your partner or spouse.

  • What did you initially admire in your partner when you first met?

It’s easy to forget what made you fall in love, especially in the midst of hard times. This question is meant to remind you both of those happy experiences in the early days of dating. Thinking positive thoughts about your partner can help balance the stress of sorting through your current relationships challenges.

  • What are your communication styles?

Styles of communication are typically divided into four categories: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. The assertive style is what couples should strive for. It involves asserting your own needs through direct, honest, and respectful communication. If communication is a weak point in your relationship, not to worry—a licensed counselor can walk you through couples therapy exercises for communication to get you both where you want to be. 

  • Why did you seek couples therapy?

Some couples seek counseling purely to strengthen their relationship, but most couples usually have problems they want to address. Studies have shown that some of the top relationship stressors include lack of commitment, infidelity, too much arguing, financial problems, substance abuse, health problems, and lack of familial support. Responding to this question is the time to put these issues on the table and address what you hope to achieve in counseling.

How Can I Make My Marriage Counseling More Effective?

If you’ve taken the time to read through these questions and consider them in the context of your own relationship, you’re already on the right path. As long as you and your partner are willing to put in the work, you raise your chances of coming out the other side stronger than ever. 

However, an experienced and skillful marriage counselor will certainly help! Our team of licensed counselors at Well Marriage Center are well-versed in marriage-friendly practices and relationship science. These counselors have aided couples in overcoming almost any challenge you can think of, from parenting issues to infidelity and beyond. 

Whenever you think the time is right, you can start the marriage counseling journey by filling out our short intake form. Our intake coordinator, Melinda, will walk you through the process and answer any question you may have.

We’ve heard the same statement from couples after counseling time and time again—“I never would have imagined our relationship could be this good again.” We would love to help you and your partner feel this way, too.

What Questions Are Asked During Pre-Marriage Counseling?

Pre-marriage (or pre-marital) counseling questions are designed to ensure you and your partner are on the same page before committing to marriage or some other milestone “next step.” Even if you’ve been together for years, you can still benefit from revisiting these questions as your relationship evolves.

  • How should you handle your finances?

There are so many factors to consider when it comes to managing finances together as a couple. It’s quite common for people to have different views on the many aspects of finance, and these differences can lead to uncomfortable arguments if not properly addressed. A good place to start is figuring out if you want joint or separate bank accounts. Then you also need to consider how you both feel about other big financial decisions, like credit cards, mortgages, loans, savings, financial goals, retirement, paying bills, and budgeting in general.

  • What do you want your physical intimacy to look like?

At the beginning of a relationship, the newness of it all can make sex and physical intimacy feel magical and exciting. And while many may think that spark fades with time, it doesn’t have to! Talking about exactly what you want from each other physically is the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

  • What are your beliefs, morals, and values?

This is a big question, but maybe one of the most important. While it’s not impossible to make a relationship work with someone who has different values, it’s definitely not easy. When you align in these areas, it’s easier to approach whatever the world may throw at you as a team. Talk through topics like religion, politics, trust, ethics, respect, kids, birth control, and any other values that are a priority for each of you.

A licensed premarital counselor can help you navigate these questions with your partner, no matter what stage of the relationship you are in.




 

Success Stories: Karen and Peter

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Karen and Peter:

I know that we’re not the only couple to experience an affair.  I know it happens to people more frequently than you would think. But it had never happened to any of my friends or family, so when I found out about it, I was completely devastated. I would never blame anyone for being done with their cheating partner, but too often I think people believe that’s their only choice.

We don’t hear about couples who survive affairs, and it does happen.  I’m living proof that you can survive an affair and still be married to the same guy.

I wanted a female counselor, which is one of the reasons I found Mary. I’m really glad it was Mary. She certainly gave me time and space to talk about what it was like to be cheated on, how I felt, how angry I was, and how hurt I was. But the bigger thing she did was help me (and us) understand the affair as a symptom of bigger problems we didn’t know how to fix. It was my choice to stay and work on it. It was also his choice to stay and work on things. Now we are working on understanding what was unhealthy about our relationship and we’re working on making it better. It takes some time. It also takes working on yourself.

I wish we could have done this years ago because I definitely think it might have prevented all this.

What I’ve learned is after an affair, you cannot stay the same in your relationship. You cannot stay the same in life. You have to decide and then change. Whatever you decide, don’t carry the hurt and pain without talking to someone. Don’t do that to yourself.  If you decide to work through it, give Mary a call.  You and your husband will feel comfortable with her.  We’re really glad we did.

 

 

Success Stories: Kevin and Paula

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Kevin and Paula:

“After thirty some years together, I had always thought our marriage was in good shape, and that the ‘bumps in the road’ were typical of most marriages. But it was only after my wife took the step to reach out for help through the Well Marriage Center that I began to face the reality that from my wife’s perspective and experience things were not as good as I thought, and no matter how much our marriage may have been typical of any relationship of substantial duration, there was always room for improvement.

From the first conversation we had, I had to face the fact that making the time to listen to each other was sorely needed in ours.

While I questioned at first whether we needed outside help to do so, I’m so glad now that my wife pressed the issue and that we have followed through on our commitment to each other to make the investment of time in our marriage and to work on making our good relationship better. I’ve benefited from the time that we’ve had to really listen to each other at our sessions and for me to put many of my assumptions and my explanations aside and to really hear my wife’s frustration with my patterns of behavior over the years.

Our process individually and together at the Well Marriage Center has also helped us build on what was and is a good relationship by taking the time to recognize what has made it such.

I’ve particularly benefited from identifying the ruts that I’ve fallen into that seem to go hand in hand with us men and that, while benefiting me on many levels in my life, tended to isolate me and work against me in my relationship with my wife.

Being able to talk with the therapist and coach, and with my wife, about those behaviors in a non-judgmental and accepting environment has been liberating and relationship changing. Looking back, I wished I had pursued such an opportunity much sooner.

In truth, I’m amazed that my wife put up with me as long as she did, and at the same time I’m grateful that she gave me this chance – certainly way beyond a second chance – to work with her at the Well Marriage Center on smoothing out our bumps in the road. Many of which have been my own.


 

Success Stories: Sydney and Andrew

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Sydney and Andrew:

“My wife and I had been married 22 years when we came to Well Marriage Center for help. Sydney is a night-owl and has always liked reading in bed until late. I had found a new job that forced me to be up early in the morning. I started sleeping in our guest room and bringing my clothes with me for the next morning.

Before we knew it, I was pretty much living in the other room and we were stuck in a rut. We had been sleeping apart for about 3 years, which destroyed our intimacy and had us both feeling very disconnected with each other.

I don’t think I realized how alone each of us felt in our marriage until Sydney told me she didn’t know if our marriage would make it–she described it as a “catastrophic disconnection.”

We needed help. What we appreciated about Michael Fronce from the very beginning was his confident and warm demeanor. He spent the first meeting learning all about what had initially attracted us to each other and what had allowed us so much marital success before now.

I swear, we left that first session feeling really upbeat and hopeful; that set the tone for all the work we were about to do. Michael worked with us on the concept of “us” and the concept of “team.” He helped us explore some pretty deep attachments we had formed and how they had been injured, damaged or rerouted over the previous few years.

He wanted me to be honest with this write-up, so let me just say, it’s really vulnerable work.

Good marriage counseling probably doesn’t work unless you are both able to humble yourselves. But when you start to feel that trust come back and that safety come back…it’s worth it!

Sydney and I together decided to redesign our bedroom and create a space we could both feel good about and comfortable in. We had equal say and worked through it with Michael. Over the past several months we’ve broken out of our ruts and have changed our routines. We’re feeling truly excited to have our connection back.

Bottom line: we felt really confident in Michael from the very beginning, which was a big deal for both of us considering we had friends who had bad marriage counseling experiences. We could tell he knew what he was doing.  I’d recommend him to all my friends. Both Sydney and I have told Michael that his support, knowing we weren’t alone, had made all the difference in the world.”


 

Success Stories: James and Susan

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

James and Susan:

“A year ago I made the strongest decision of my life: I decided to ask for help with my marriage. I guess you would say my wife and I had the “typical” suffering marriage. We talked less and we fought more. It seemed like we were always critical or negative. We withdrew from each other in almost every way. Marriage became harder than it had ever been before. I finally agreed with Susan to give counseling a try.

I wanted to choose Glen for a variety of reasons, but the main one was because he’s done a lot of work with men, especially around anger issues.  I didn’t really have an anger problem, but I figured someone who could help angry men probably wouldn’t be a waste of my time or money. Susan liked his experience and focus on couples therapy. (We actually agreed on him.)

I know I’m supposed to do more of our story than a testimonial, so I’ll just start with this: I had no idea what to expect in couples therapy. I didn’t know if it would be easy or if it would be really hard.  To be honest, a year later, I think it’s a little of both.

The first month was definitely the hardest because a lot of stuff bubbled up to the surface. Luckily, Glen did two things that probably helped save us. First, he integrated a lot of positive behavior stuff. I didn’t think it would be that great but it was remarkably effective and really changed the way we spoke to and acted towards each other. He’ll be able to explain it better if you see him.

Second, he confronted me early on my work issues. This was a big issue for us, but Glen did it in a way where you could definitely tell he’s worked with guys before.

I didn’t want to storm out of his office. It was a breakthrough for me and led to some really powerful re-prioritizing.

We haven’t been in weekly counseling sessions for a whole year. We saw Glen pretty regularly for a few months while we worked through a bunch of stuff. Then we saw him once a month or once every 2 months just to check-in and talk together about our progress.

Now we’ve decided to see him 1 or 2 times a year.  It’s more of a preventive thing (he calls it wellness) so we don’t run into the problems we had before. He knows us now and what we’ve been through which we really appreciate. We’re excited to start building on the strengths of our relationship.

I’ll say this to close: you have to be willing to make some changes in your life and in your marriage. The good news, at least for us, is that your relationship really can get better. I agree with the other couple who wrote their story and said 10 months ago they never believed their marriage could be this good again. Susan and I have experienced that too and that’s why we wrote this story for Glen.  He really did help us and we’re incredibly grateful for the way in which he did it.  Good luck with your new center Glen, you’re going to do a lot of people good.

 

 

Success Stories: Nadia and Liam

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Nadia and Liam

Mary asked me to be honest with this, so here goes: when we first came to see Mary, we were ready to separate.  I don’t think I had ever felt more disconnected with Liam.  We fought most of the time, and honestly, we hurt each other quite a bit.  I know I definitely felt hurt.  I honestly didn’t think we could make it.  I cannot describe in words what that feeling is like.

When Liam and I think back to where we were, we’re thankful for two main things.  First, that we went and saw someone instead of just giving up.  And not just someone, but someone who understood what was happening to us.

Mary told us she works primarily with couples and it was obvious she had experience.  Second, we could tell from the very beginning that she wanted us to make it.  It was just a few subtle comments she made in our first meeting that seemed hopeful – at least they gave us hope.  That turned out to be really important for us.

Throughout our time with Mary she really worked hard with us to make progress, to help us understand what was happening in our relationship and also what was happening to us individually.  She helped empower us to heal some old wounds that I never even realized were causing so much pain.  And she got us working right from the beginning to communicate better, which seems like a simple thing, but for a couple that feels so disconnected, it was a big deal for us.

Today we have better self-esteem which helps us to have a better connection with each other.  We have a stronger bond that we both feel.  We are incredibly grateful to Mary – I wish I could rave more freely about her.  What I’ll say is the greatest thing about her: she will work hard for your relationship in a way that helps you feel hope.  You won’t waste your time with her – she gets you moving right from the get-go in a very safe and supportive way.”


 

Can Couples Therapy Help You Fall Back in Love?

Most of us have heard of—and experienced—the honeymoon phase of a relationship. Sparks fly, and everything feels new, happy, and exciting. This stage of a relationship is truly wonderful, but it’s not what sustains a long-term relationship. The fact is, marriages and relationships take work, and they’re bound to have their highs and lows. 

As the months and years go by, it’s not uncommon for feelings to dim over time or for the little things to start adding up. You might start to feel more like roommates. And, you might start to question whether or not you’re still in love with your partner.

If any of this rings true, you might be wondering, “Can lost feelings come back?” The good news is that marriage counseling or couples therapy can help you reignite your love for one another—as long as you and your partner are willing to put in the work. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to bring love back into a marriage with counseling and signs that marriage counseling is working.

How Do You Fix a Relationship After Losing Feelings?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that couples therapy won’t improve your relationship and rejuvenate your feelings overnight. It takes sustained work from both you and your partner. But with dedication and the right couples counselor, it’s more than possible to rekindle your feelings and your relationship! Here are a few tips to help you in this journey.

Be Ready to Put in the Work

There’s no doubt about it; couples therapy—and the work you do both in and out of sessions—is hard. During therapy sessions, you’ll likely find yourself having difficult conversations and confronting big or small issues in your relationship. Your counselor can help you identify unhealthy patterns in your relationship, understand the roadblocks or issues you are facing, and develop strategies to improve these situations—and ultimately, your relationship. 

In addition to showing up physically and mentally for counseling sessions, you may also be asked to do homework outside of sessions. For example, you might be asked to write your partner a letter about what you admire about them. Or, you might be asked to share experiences with one another, like watching a favorite movie, sharing a hobby, or going on a date. Putting the work in and intentionally completing these kinds of activities can help you rebuild the foundation of your relationship and fall back in “like” with each other, one of the key elements for finding your way back to love.

Remember What Made You Fall in Love in the First Place

When your relationship feels tense, it can be difficult to remember the good moments and what you love, or once loved, about your partner. Combine that with kids, bills, workplace stressors, and so much more, and it can be easy to forget your partner’s good qualities. But rediscovering the feelings you once had can go a long way to rekindling your love.

At Well Marriage Center, we practice a strengths-based approach to marriage counseling, which uses your individual and relational strengths to build a foundation for success. When we begin working with a couple, we start with a structured relationship strengths and wellness assessment. You’ll be asked to reflect and share what brought you together, what your relationship was like in the beginning, what some of your favorite moments have been, and more. Not only can doing this build a safe space to discuss your current relationship dynamics and issues, but it will help you remember what you truly admire about one another.

Be Vulnerable and Willing to Grow and Adapt

Maybe you’re feeling stressed about household chores, the kids, your job, or other responsibilities. Maybe you’ve found that your relationship has developed unhealthy communication patterns. Maybe a lack of intimacy has instilled feelings of doubt. Maybe things have gotten so rough or feel so hopeless that you’re wondering, “Is marriage counseling worth it?” 

While it may seem counterintuitive, being vulnerable and opening up about your concerns in a healthy and safe environment, like couples therapy, can help you and your partner reconnect. Our therapists are specifically trained to walk you through these moments of vulnerability. When resentments and negative feelings build up, it tends to block out the good stuff about your partner. If you can both open up about how you’re feeling and be willing to work on improving these problems, though, these negative feelings can fade in light of understanding. This will make it much easier to notice all the qualities about your partner that made you fall in love to begin with.

Do Couples Stay Together After Therapy?

Yes—time and time again we see couples rekindle their love for each other! Couples therapy often gets a bad reputation, and you’ve probably heard horror stories about therapists telling couples to split. But the truth is that many marriage counselors, including our team at Well Marriage Center, practice a marriage-friendly approach to therapy. 

What this means is that you won’t have to worry about things like, “Will a couples therapist tell you to break up?” Our therapists are relationship specialists who will carry the support and hope that you and your partner can heal your relationship and rekindle your love.

Rebuild Your Love with Well Marriage Center

Beginning therapy is often a scary or anxiety-riddled endeavor for couples. At Well Marriage Center, we’ve made it our goal to ensure that you and your partner feel supported every step of the way. Before you get started, it can be helpful to review our website to find out more about our process and what to expect.

Once you’re ready, you can get started by filling out a short Intake Form and setting up a call with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She’ll answer any questions you have and connect you with one of our experienced therapists. Taking the next step will take work—but your effort can help you reignite your relationship.




 

How Do You Know When Marriage Counseling Isn’t Working?

In relationships, like in life, there are great times and then there are tougher times. A long-term, committed relationship is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have, and something most humans deeply long for. You find someone, fall in love, and embark on a promising new journey together–but it’s normal that along that journey you and your partner will experience challenges. One proven way that helps couples  better handle the tests and trials within your relationship is to enroll in marriage counseling. 

Unfortunately, marriage counseling (also known as couples counseling) is often associated with a stigma of failure, and as such is seen as a last resort for couples. But in the same way you might conduct routine maintenance on your car to prevent bigger issues, marriage counseling is a great resource for many couples to further solidify their foundation or even rekindle a flickering flame. 

Despite all of the positives of marriage counseling (which we get into a little later), it can be difficult to know if it’s working. To that end, we are going to look at some signs marriage counseling is working, and signs that it’s not. 

When Does Marriage Not Counseling Work?    

Marriage counseling is one of those endeavors where you can only get out what you put in. In other words, if reservations about marriage counseling cause you or your partner to go in half-hearted or closed-minded, you might not be opening yourself up to all the benefits counseling can provide. Oftentimes, this reluctance can cause participants to ask ,”when to stop marriage counseling or when to give up on marriage counseling?”

To answer those questions, let’s take a look at a few reasons or signs that marriage counseling is not working.

  • Individual therapy might be a better alternative. It is common for challenges between partners to be rooted in personal issues. Sometimes a marriage counselor will suggest that one or both of the parties involved work with an individual therapist to resolve some of their underlying issues. Once that is accomplished the participant  will be in a better headspace to focus on working through the roadblocks in their relationship. 
  • Just showing up isn’t enough. Sometimes marriage counseling patients think just showing up to the sessions will resolve their issues. The simple fact of the matter is that a therapist can’t solve the problems or do the work for them. Maintaining a relationship can take a lot of deliberate effort. If they aren’t willing to put in the work, that is one sign marriage counseling might not be the right solution for them. 
  • They have an ulterior agenda. If they have an agenda in marriage counseling that is anything other than improving the relationship, they might not be setting themselves up for success. It is not uncommon for individuals to come in trying to prove that they are right, or convey that their partner is the one who needs to change. Unfortunately, these motivations tend to create more issues as opposed to actually solving anything.      
  • Your therapist is not a good match. Marriage counseling is an intimate and vulnerable experience. As such, it’s important that participants feel they have an appropriate counselor. For example, at Well Marriage Center, we have a group of around 30 licensed relationship specialists. Between our extensive staff, and our efficient intake-process,  we strive to make sure each therapist is the perfect fit. In fact, one of our core values is being pro-relationship, meaning we want to do everything we can to help people rekindle the spark between themself and their partner. Sadly, not all marriage counseling providers go to the same lengths we do to make sure participants feel comfortable with their therapist. This can lead to plateaus in progress, or worse, a completely unpleasant counseling experience. 

Is Marriage Counseling Worth It? 

For many people this answer is a resounding yes. Provided you both come in with the right intentions and a willingness to put in the effort, marriage counseling can prove to be quite effective. Signs that marriage counseling is working include:

  1. Your relationship is healing. This is the biggest (and most desireable) sign that couples look for to know if counseling is working. Signs that your relationship is healing include things like improved communication and comfort discussing uncomfortable truths. Another sign of healing might include an increase in affection toward (or from) your partner. 
  2. Eagerness or willingness to attend therapy. At first, couples therapy might feel like a chore or a burden. However, as you start to see improvements in your relationship, your anxiety  or doubts about attending sessions might turn into a willingness or even eagerness to continue showing up and working things out. 
  3. You are willing to do the work. Words like “saving,” “repairing,” “fixing,” and “change,” can carry with them a daunting or high-stakes connotation. But, if you are willing to look past the discomfort of starting marriage counseling, you can find yourself wanting to do the hard work. The more you feel fulfilled by the effort you put in, the bigger the sign that marriage counseling is working and worth it.  

To further determine if marriage counseling might be right for you, let’s look at a few frequently asked questions.     

What Percentage of Marriages Survive After Counseling?

If you’re still wondering about the effectiveness of marriage counseling, the fact that the overwhelming majority of couples have a successful experience might help ease your mind. 

How Many Times a Week Should You Go to Marriage Counseling?

The industry standard is once a week at the beginning of couples counseling sessions. Of course that is subject to change based on your specific situation. After your initial counseling sessions, your schedule might be every two weeks or even once a month. Generally speaking, the average length of marriage counseling is 12-20 sessions. (I think some of the other blogs say 12-25 sessions?)

What Are the Signs of a Good Couples Therapist?

There are a handful of things to look for in a good couples counselor. 

  1. For starters, your therapist should be licensed. 
  2. But more than just the license, the therapist’s speciality is what matters. Many licensed therapists see just 2-3 couples per week and often don’t help facilitate great results. Make sure at least half of the therapist’s clients each week are couples. At Well Marriage Center our caseloads are almost 100% couples. There is a science to relationships and good counselors will be specialists and experts. 
  3. A good therapist should be relationship-friendly, not just advising couples to break up. Participants are worried if they enter into counseling it will end in divorce. At Well Marriage we focus on rebuilding and rekindling happy relationships.
  4. A good therapist will help you remain hopeful and optimistic while still providing valuable insight and direction.  
  5. The best therapist ultimately helps couples find their way back to each other. They help them rediscover what brought them together in the first place and address whatever obstacles are creating space. 

At Well Marriage Center our team of experts meet those 4 criteria and more. Explore our website to learn more, or if you’re ready, get started today by contacting Melinda


 

Marriage Counseling Alexandria VA

Welcome to Well Marriage Center!  We understand it can be intimidating to consider couples counseling when your relationship runs into difficulty.  Plenty of questions run through people’s minds: “Will this help?” “How long does it last?” “How much money will this cost us?” “What if the counselor doesn’t think we can be helped?”

Click here to begin at our homepage: Well Marriage Center

It takes a lot of courage to ask for help.  Our commitment to you is to provide a safe, “marriage-friendly” approach that supports the probability that you can save and improve your relationship.  We want that for you and we believe you can make it happen!  For over 25 years we’ve sat with couples just like you, couples who have run into minor bumps or significant potholes, couples who wondered if their relationship could even be saved.  The great news is this: countless couples have echoed almost the identical statement, “several months ago I never would have imagined our relationship could be this good again.”

Well Marriage Center specializes in couples and marriage counseling in Northern VA, among other locations. We utilize a combination of therapeutic and wellness (strengths-based) models, we study the latest research, we engage with the leaders in our field, and we work exclusively with relationships or relationship dynamics.  Trust your relationship to a couple’s specialist!

We provide couples / marriage counseling to the Northern VA community, with office locations convenient to Alexandria, VA and the surrounding areas.