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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.

 

 

Signs Marriage Counseling is Working

Marriage counseling can help couples get to the root causes of issues before those challenges shake the foundation of their relationship. Yet, it’s often seen as a last resort. Questions like “Is marriage counseling really worth it?” and “How do I know if couples therapy is working?” make couples hesitate starting the process. 

To help couples feel more confident in actively improving their relationship, we’ve put together this guide on signs that your marriage counseling is working. After all, counseling is a significant investment, so you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. The average length of marriage counseling is 12 – 20 sessions, and starting off on the right track will greatly improve your final results. So how can you tell that marriage counseling is actually helping your relationship? Let’s find out.

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

If you’re hesitating to start because you’re asking, “What are the odds of marriage counseling working?” it can help to know that the marriage counseling success rate, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), is 98%. This means that nearly all participants in marriage counseling had an overall good or excellent experience. A positive experience can include a variety outcomes, such as:

  • You and your partner are putting in the work to heal your relationship.
  • You and your partner can appreciate the positive aspects of your relationship, even during difficult times and conflicts.
  • You and your partner don’t dread attending sessions.
  • You and your partner have a positive working relationship with your counselor or therapist.
  • You and your partner discover how to make your relationship work moving forward and choose to stay together.

We’ll get into the specifics of each of these outcomes later, but it’s important to understand that couples therapy can be successful even if all of these milestones aren’t achieved. Every relationship is unique, and so the ideal end result will be different for each couple.  

Well, what about divorce rates—does marriage counseling really help marriages last?  

What Percentage of Couples in Therapy Get Divorced

Up to thirty-eight percent of married couples get divorced within 4 years after completing counseling. Considering that nearly 50% of marriages in the United States are expected to end in divorce, marriage counseling does give you a better chance of saving your relationship than working through your challenges alone. 

When To Go to Couples Therapy

If you are in a distressed relationship, it’s a good idea to begin couples therapy before underlying issues escalate into full-blown catastrophes. So what can cause distress in a relationship, and how do you know when it’s time to get professional help? Let’s take a look:

  • Small disputes escalate into major arguments
  • Disagreements on how to manage finances
  • Unbalanced desire for sexual intimacy between partners
  • Trust issues
  • Unequal distribution of household chores and parenting responsibilities
  • Conflicting parenting styles
  • Inability to communicate effectively
  • Attachment and codependency issues
  • Difficulties connecting with each other’s social circles and in-laws
  • Physical and mental health conditions
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Falling out of love or feeling like the “spark” is gone

These issues are common in relationships, but they don’t always present themselves clearly. For example, not putting effort into communication could be caused by a lack of excitement in the relationship. You don’t feel motivated to talk about big, difficult topics like how to manage finances and coordinate parenting styles because it all feels like work—with none of the spark that was there when you first got together. 

Even if you are able to navigate your way through the surfacing issues, leaving underlying conflicts unresolved will only lead to more stress. That’s the primary benefit of couples therapy—getting to the root cause of what’s holding your relationship back, so you can experience long-lasting benefits in other aspects of your life.

If your relationship is preparing to go through a major change, such as marriage, it can also help to begin pre-marriage counseling. Think of it like preventive care. If you strengthen your relationship before facing significant challenges, you’ll be more likely to get through those challenges with less strain on your partnership.  

Marriage Counseling Do’s and Don’ts

To get the most out of marriage counseling from the start, it helps to know some things you should do and others that you shouldn’t:

Do

  • Be willing to take responsibility
  • Be committed to working on your personal growth
  • Give your partner space to explain their perspective
  • Be active in the conversation—both when listening and sharing your thoughts
  • Be willing to compromise

Don’t

  • Expect immediate results
  • Find every opportunity to blame your partner
  • Interrupt your partner
  • Threaten divorce (or anything else)
  • Try to “win” counseling

How Do I Know If My Marriage Counseling Is Working?

The exact signs of success in marriage counseling vary from couple to couple depending on what their relationship needs, but common green flags are:

Your Relationship Is Healing

This is the big one. Most couples go into therapy together because they want their relationship to work, but they’re not sure how to get there on their own. Healing starts with communication. Sometimes it’s hard to express what you need, and sometimes it’s harder to know exactly what that is. A good sign that your therapy is working is that you and your partner feel comfortable talking about uncomfortable truths without worrying about backlash. 

Another sign that couples therapy is working is that you feel more affection for your partner again. When the hard work of relationships takes priority—whether that’s paying bills, raising kids, operating a family business, maintaining a home, or anything else—it’s easy for attraction to take a backseat. You may feel more like coworkers than romantic partners. When you start to feel that connection come back, you know your relationship is on the right path. You can see this through small changes like performing small acts of kindness for each other, flirting, and making time for emotional and physical intimacy.

Willingness To Attend Therapy Sessions

Therapy is hard, and if you’re there to discuss what isn’t going right in your relationship, it usually isn’t fun. But if you and your partner are making progress, it’s easier to attend those appointments, even knowing that they will challenge you. The hard conversations, the self-reflection, and the reevaluation of roles are paying off. 

You Can Acknowledge Both the Good and the Bad of the Relationship

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative when things aren’t going well. You feel angry, lost, and hurt. How can anything good come out of this relationship? On the other hand, the idea of admitting that anything is wrong at all could be too intimidating. If you acknowledge even minor flaws, then the whole relationship must be a failure, right? Not at all.

Even the healthiest relationships have their mix of good and bad. Part of the healing process is being able to acknowledge both without ignoring the other. For example, if you do all of the household chores, it’s easy to complain that your partner doesn’t contribute at all, and therefore conclude they aren’t putting enough into the relationship. But at the same time, your partner also works long hours to provide for your family and plans major trips. Instead of just labeling them as lazy, it’s important to acknowledge that they also work hard on different tasks. Then you could seek a compromise where your partner helps more around the house on a daily basis, while you participate more in planning vacations.   

You Are Willing To Do the Work—During Sessions and at Home

Opening up to your partner is hard. It’s even harder when someone else is in the room with you—at least at the beginning. It takes courage to be vulnerable, and that step alone is a good sign that your couples therapy is off to a promising start. 

But therapy doesn’t end once your appointment is over. There’s also important work to be done at home to change your behaviors and make lasting improvements. Couples therapy homework can include:

  • Writing a letter about your partner’s best qualities so you remember why you fell in love with them in the first place
  • Having conversations with “I feel” statements to bring up strong emotions that usually get bottled up
  • Recording memories to capture the meaningful moments throughout your relationship and get inspired to make more
  • Sharing your favorite things, like music, art, and movies, to help your partner understand how you relate to the world
  • Asking icebreaker questions—these may seem silly, but your partner’s favorite color, ice cream flavor, and so much more may have changed since you first met   

Life’s busy, so if you and your partner are willing to make room for these exercises, it’s a good sign that you’re invested in getting the most out of couples therapy.

You Like Working with Your Marriage Counselor

Your marriage counselor can make or break your healing process. If they’re not doing their job well, sessions could turn into shouting matches and you leave feeling worse than when you showed up. On the other hand, the signs of a good couples therapist are that they help each person take responsibility for their feelings and set boundaries. At Well Marriage Center, we work hard to help couples build trust, work through trauma, and navigate conflict.  

When To Stop Marriage Counseling

There are two reasons to stop marriage counseling: you and your partner have strengthened your relationship and can continue the work at home or you and your partner have decided to end your relationship. Typically, marriage counseling lasts up to six months before couples reach either of these points. 

What Kind of Therapist Is Best for Couples?

As we mentioned earlier, great marriage counselors encourage you and your partner to open up about difficult feelings in a constructive way. Our team of licensed, professional therapists at Well Marriage Center does just that to help couples find their way back to each other. We understand that each relationship has its own personality, challenges, and strengths, and can benefit from a personalized approach. 

To learn more about how to begin taking steps toward a healthier relationship, explore our website. If you feel ready for next steps, our Intake Coordinator, Melinda, would be happy to help you schedule an appointment.  


 

How Can I Make My Marriage Counseling More Effective?

You and your partner have decided that marriage counseling is a good fit—you are taking a big step toward a stronger relationship! Once you’ve chosen couples therapy as a helpful option, or even after you’ve attended a few sessions, it’s a good idea to consider how to get the most benefit from your therapy as a whole. 

In this article, we talk about practical things that can  be done to make your marriage counseling more effective, signs marriage counseling is working well, and examples of how strategies can be applied in real-world relationships.

How to Approach Couples Therapy

There are some things you can do before you begin couples therapy that can improve its effectiveness. If you’ve already had several sessions but maybe want to get even more out of your therapy, it’s never too late to apply these approaches.

It’s About the Couple as a Unit, Not About Each Person Individually

Couples therapy is all about understanding and improving the way you and your partner interact. It isn’t about one person ‘winning’ or someone being forced to change. Focusing on the dynamics within the relationship and the overall goals you have together as a couple is the best approach for getting the most out of couples therapy. 

As an example, let’s consider a couple struggling with dividing household chores. Both partners could come to a therapy session and focus on all the work around the house they do, and how one person does far less. However, it is more likely to be an effective counseling session if the couple arrives ready to talk about their expectations of what chores need to be done and how they can work together to achieve or adjust these expectations.

Name Your Objectives and Focus on the Big Picture Solutions

It’s easy to sit down in a couples therapy session and go through the play-by-play of your most recent fight. However, focusing on the broad goals and issues you are having in your relationship is more likely to produce lasting results. A discussion about how a singular fight might be resolved is less likely to produce lasting positive results for a couple. The best path forward to achieving their overall marriage goals is to focus on overall relationship objectives.

For instance, a couple might come into a counseling session in the midst of an argument about how one partner left their wet towel on the floor. Instead of focusing on the details of this specific argument, the couple could name their overall relationship objective that this situation highlights. They could then work with their counselor in the session to come up with the underlying issues that this specific challenge brings up for each of them.

How to Have Effective Couples Therapy

Once you have adjusted your mindset and are approaching couples therapy in the most effective way, there are some additional things you can do to potentially improve your marriage counseling success rate. Making sure you are discussing all of these ideas with your partner and your counselor, here are some tips for making couples therapy more effective once you’ve started.

Do Your Homework

When your counselor gives you ideas or assignments to do at home before your next appointment, prioritize them and commit to taking them seriously and making them happen. It’s easy to get busy with day-to-day life and put off couples therapy homework that may seem silly or make you uncomfortable. But in order to get the most out of your marriage counseling, you need to put in the work during sessions and at home.

For example, a counselor might recommend that a couple sits down individually and makes a list of things that their partner does that makes them feel happy before their next session. If each person puts off doing this, then scribbles down a few superficial things moments before the next session starts, they are unlikely to get much out of the exercise. If each partner spends time really thinking of times their partner was thoughtful and caring this exercise will be more effective. It will give the therapist more to work with in future sessions and foster more positive feelings for the relationship overall, too.

Be Willing to Work on Yourself

If you go into couples counseling thinking that your partner is the only one who needs to change, you are much less likely to have the most effective counseling experience. In fact, coming in with a long list of things your spouse must change could be on the Marriage Counseling: What Not to Say Checklist. It can even be helpful to come into therapy with more goals for yourself than your partner, because you have more control over your own actions and beliefs than anyone else’s.

Let’s look at an example of a couple coming to therapy to try to rekindle the romance in their marriage. If one partner comes with a list of things they want their spouse to start doing to be more romantic, it is less likely to enact lasting change. However, if that partner comes in thinking about what they consider romance and what they can do to themselves to create that within the relationship, the therapy session will likely be more effective.

Well Marriage Counseling: Building Stronger Relationships for a Brighter Future

Ultimately, more effective marriage counseling isn’t about how many times a week you should go to marriage counseling or the average length of marriage counseling. It’s about the mindset you and your partner come in with, and focusing on your biggest relationship objectives when you’re there. 

Well Marriage is the nation’s largest relationship specialty center. All our counselors are couples therapy experts with years of experience helping people just like you. We know how scary it can feel to start therapy, and we want to take as much of the guesswork and uncertainty out of the process as we can. 

You are on the right track for considering how to make your marriage better! Schedule an appointment with us to take the next step on your journey.


 

What Is Talked About During Marriage Counseling?

Nervous about your first marriage counseling session? You’re not alone. Marriage counseling is an extremely vulnerable experience, bound to unearth intense emotions for everyone involved. Fortunately, if you and your partner know what to expect before you begin, it can feel a lot less scary—and you’ll likely get more out of the experience. So, how do couples prepare for a therapy session? Although the specifics of your marriage/ couples therapy exercises will differ depending on your unique goals, there are some basic steps you can take to ready yourself for any initial therapy session. 

To help prepare you for your healing journey, Well Marriage Center answered a few of the most common marriage counseling questions that couples ask when starting therapy

Frequently Asked Marriage Counseling Session Questions

What Do You Talk About Before Couples Counseling?

Naturally, every couple’s reasons for pursuing therapy differ. However, there are common factors that often contribute to strife in a relationship, such as:

  • Communication issues
  • Loss of romantic feelings
  • Financial issues
  • How to raise children 
  • Health issues
  • Trauma  
  • Intimacy issues
  • Infidelity

If there are clear stressors—like those listed above—that you and your partner deem the main source of tension, then it would be best to review those points before your first therapy session. 

However, if your reasoning is less cut and dry, then it maybe is beneficial for you both to explore the following questions before starting therapy: 

  • Do we want to stay together? 
  • What are your opinions of therapy?
  • What are the most significant problems in our marriage? 
  • Does this rough patch/relationship feel temporary or permanent?
  • When did you first notice that something was wrong? 

Going through these questions can give you a better idea of how to navigate counseling. It’s important to note that you do not need concrete answers so long as you both actively engage with these questions on a deeper emotional level. 

Additionally, reviewing these types of questions in advance will better prepare you and your partner to have difficult conversations, making your first counseling experience more productive and beneficial for everyone.

What Do You Talk About During Marriage Counseling?

As we’ve said before, the specific topics of each counseling session vary greatly depending on the couple’s unique goals and challenges. Every couple is different, so every counseling approach is equally distinctive. That being said, here are a few of the most common questions a good therapist  asks during an initial counseling session. 

  • In general, how would you describe your life and marriage together?
  • What does the timeline of your relationship look like? 
  • What strengths do you bring to the table in your relationship? And what strengths do you think your partner has? 
  • Do you have any prior experience with marriage counseling or other types of therapy?
  • What made you decide to seek marriage counseling?
  • Have you tried anything to resolve present issues before seeking counseling? What did you try, and how did that go?
  • What do you expect to get out of couples therapy? 
  • Do you currently want to stay with your partner? Why or why not? 
  • Are you willing to put in the work and make changes to improve the quality of your marriage?

Is There a Difference Between Couples Therapy vs Marriage Counseling?

This depends on who you ask, but Well Marriage Center uses these terms interchangeably. We believe that all couples, legally married or not, can repair and strengthen their relationships via therapy. Ultimately, the end goal of therapy for all types of couples is the same—to heal, reinforce their relationship, and bring about a happier future together. 

How Long Do Couples Usually Go to Counseling?

The actual duration of couples counseling is different for everyone and depends on several factors, like:

  • How long you have been together
  • What your needs are
  • What challenges are present
  • The counseling model used by the therapist

In the end, the average length of marriage counseling doesn’t matter. A couple may pursue counseling for as long as they need to; incorporating a strict timeline doesn’t do anyone any favors, and may add unnecessary stress. 

Searching For Pro-Relationship Counseling? Try Well Marriage Center

It’s important to understand that pursuing counseling does not mean you have failed as a couple. Instead, it’s a chance to make your relationship even stronger. Regardless of your specific situation, you and your partner deserve a therapist who will help you pursue individual happiness while advocating for the success of your relationship. 

Although counseling can feel daunting, the right therapist will help you and your partner work through the tension to build a stronger and happier union. Our licensed, specialized therapists know how to tailor your therapy experience so you and your partner can discover mutually beneficial solutions. 

If you are both ready to take the first step of your counseling journey, fill out our short intake form and set up a consultation with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She’ll happily walk you through our process and answer any questions you have to match you with a counselor who meets your unique needs. 


 

 

What a Marriage Counselor Should Not Say

While some reports show that marriage counseling has a positive impact on 70% of couples, the journey to healing your relationship is not always easy. Even if you and your partner agree that therapy is the best move, the connection you have with your counselor can profoundly impact the health of your relationship with your partner as well. It’s hard enough to find a therapist in the first place, and then it can also be difficult to know how to evaluate them. It is also not common for couples that are new to counseling to know that they can leave their therapist, and find a new one. They are ultimately there to serve you and your needs, not the other way around. That is what has motivated us to create this piece on marriage counseling: what not to say. We want couples to have more confidence in being able to identify if they are in the right place to heal their relationship. 

What Are the Signs of a Bad Couples Therapist?

It can be easy to attribute the problems with couples therapy to the pair seeking help. This can lead couples to stay with the wrong therapist much longer than they should. Let’s take a look at some of the signs of a bad couples therapist.

  • Uses Too Much Jargon: Your therapist is not there to confuse you and show off that they have a degree. The language they use in sessions should be to help you discover the root cause of your issue(s) and progress to a positive future. The best help a counselor can give you is to guide you and your spouse through whatever challenges your marriage is facing without resorting to jargon that you don’t understand.
  • Has Little or No Structure: Couples therapy needs to be conducted in a structured environment, with a clear cut plan and a positive end goal for the relationship. Before you meet with a counselor, ask them how they structure their sessions. They need to step in and give ample time for each person to speak their mind. There are too many emotions in play for a therapist to sit back and let the couple talk in circles for the whole session.
  • Treats All Couples the Same: Inexperienced counselors will use similar treatment methods from couple to couple. While some healthy habits and practices can be recommended to couples across various circumstances, you want your therapist to treat your unique situation as such. The special dynamics of your relationship may fit a certain strategy on paper, but the right therapist will customize their process to fit your situation.
  • Is Not Pro-Relationship: Whether or not you are married, counselors that push for divorce or breaking up as the top solution for your relationship may be too focused on you as an individual and not as a couple. So, what does pro-relationship counseling look like? Other therapists may practice what is called “marriage-neutral counseling.” This means the therapist will take a neutral approach toward whether or not you and your partner should stay together. Within these kinds of sessions, it is not uncommon for the counselor to encourage couples to split up rather than put in the work to better their relationship. 

Can Couples Counseling Make Things Worse?

Simply put no, marriage counseling will not make things worse. The catch is that both parties must be willing to put in the work to fix the issues. However, there are therapists that can cause damage to your marriage and even you and your partner’s mental health. It all comes down to your work and how well you and your partner connect with your counselor. Although it’s not always easy to spot the signs of an ineffective counselor, if something feels off, talk to your partner and listen to yourself if the sessions just are not feeling right. Perhaps you’ll discover you’ve both been searching online, “when to stop marriage counseling” because neither of you feels you’ve made any progress after numerous sessions.

This can all sound a bit bleak, but before you jump the ship on counseling altogether, a shift in who you go to might be all the change you need. For example, if you feel your current counselor is discussing divorce too much, it would be a good idea to go to a team that practices pro-relationship therapy like Well Marriage Center.

What are the Signs Marriage Counseling is Working?

 With a better understanding of what a bad situation can be, here are some clues that your counselor is a good fit: 

  • It Feels like Collaboration: You should feel like the therapist is on your team. For example, are they asking the right questions, are they truly wanting to get to know you both, do they demonstrate a good understanding of your relationship after multiple sessions, and are they focusing on the strengths of your relationship? If your couples therapist is taking sides, that is a sign that healing in your relationship will likely not occur. 
  • You Don’t Dread Going: If you and your partner are excited about going to therapy to work on creating the best situation, that is a great sign it is going well. Dreading going to counseling because you feel like all it does is start conflict could mean that your current session environment is not conducive to healing the relationship. 
  • You Are Doing the Work at Home: It is a great sign if all the hard work both of you put in does not end when you leave the session. You should be excited to put what you have been learning and practicing in therapy into action. When your therapist gives you a mindfulness activity to try the next time an argument starts, both parties should be excited to pause and implement it. 

Well Marriage Center: Where Happy Futures Begin

When you invest in relationship counseling with one of our therapists at Well Marriage Center, you can trust you’re getting paired with certified therapists that have a wide range of treatment frameworks. It can also put your mind at ease that all of our therapists have dedicated their careers to solely helping couples forward.  It is always beneficial to have a marriage counselor in your community: one who is deeply experienced with the nuances of committed partner relationships and who wants to see your marriage succeed and thrive. 

Contact us today to set up a consultation with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She is ready and waiting to answer any questions you may have to ensure you are matched with the right counselor. 


 

A Happy Couples Blog Post

10 Habits for a Better Relationship

We wanted to pass along a popular blog post in case you haven’t read it. Maybe it will get the creative juices flowing in your unique relationship. In 2009 Dr. Mark Goulston authored one of the most-read couples related blog posts on the widely popular “Psychology Today” website. He titled it, “10 Habits of Happy Couples.” It’s gone viral and continues to pop up around the web even 13 years later…

Click here to read 10 Habits of Happy Couples

So many couples hunger for happiness together. We want that for you! While marriage counseling is often thought of as just “fixing a problem,” couples specialists understand that it’s more about helping couples discover strengths and cultivate sustained happiness together. It’s all about building a better relationship.

Some of these “10” may seem cliche while others may seem impractical. That’s ok. Not all of them are going to fit for you. However, we invite you to share them with each other and commit together to cultivating a few of these habits. Or better yet, think up one or two of your own and enjoy the happiness it brings you!