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Couples Therapy Communication Questions

The idea of marriage or couples counseling can be scary, especially when you don’t know what to expect. Hopefully, we can help calm your nerves. First and foremost, it’s important to point out that you’re not alone! One study found that 49% of married couples have invested time into counseling at some point in their marriage. 

But does counseling help with relationship communication, specifically? Yes, it absolutely does– communication touches every area of a relationship, as the verbal and nonverbal exchanges between people are what build the relationship in the first place. We’re going to explore: what counseling actually means, couples therapy communication, and exercises and questions you might expect during your time in counseling.

What Happens in Couples Counseling?

Couples counseling, often known as couples therapy or marriage counseling, is a form of therapy that helps couples tackle problems in their relationship and improve their communication and intimacy. Marriage counseling procedures differ based on the therapist’s approach(es) and the couple’s individual needs and goals, but typically will consist of:

  • Initial introduction and consultation
  • Assessment and identification of issues
  • Developing skills and solving problems

Most often, a licensed therapist will begin with an introduction and evaluation. In this evaluation, they ask you about your relationship history, any current concerns you’re facing, and goals you have for treatment. Together with your partner and the therapist, you should expect to investigate the problems that are causing conflict or frustration in your marriage. 

All therapeutic centers will have variations of this general approach. At Well Marriage, for example, our first session will include an overview of your relationship’s strengths before diving into the more difficult topics. By the end of the first session, however, your counselor will provide insight into what is happening in the relationship and tools to immediately start calming down (or spicing up!) things at home. By four sessions, you should have not only useful insight, but also tools and strategies in place to begin fixing deeper issues.

How Does Therapy Help with Communication Skills?

Marriage counseling, or couples therapy, can serve as a great resource for couples who are dealing with communication challenges. Counseling can significantly improve communication skills by:

  • Creating a Safe Space: Marriage counseling provides a secure and impartial setting in which you and your partner may communicate your thoughts and problems. Within the safe space, you can communicate without fear of being judged or retaliated against. This environment, managed by a skilled interpersonal clinician, promotes open and honest discussions, which can be challenging in other spaces.
  • Identifying Communication Patterns: You and your partner can get help from a therapist by learning your habits and communication styles. You might not be conscious of how your way of communication contributes to misunderstandings, conflicts, or hurt feelings. With the help of a therapist, you and your partner may identify and change these patterns, where they come from, and work out techniques to grow together.
  • Developing Active Listening Skills: You and your partner can learn active listening techniques from marriage counselors, including paying attention to what the other person is saying and validating their feelings. This makes it easier for you to communicate and makes your partner feel heard and understood.
  • Improving Nonverbal Communication: Nonverbal communication with your spouse, such as your body language and voice tone, can be improved with the assistance of a counselor. They could give you tips for communicating how to communicate more effectively and pick up on your partner’s nonverbal signs.
  • Encouraging Empathy and Understanding: Marriage counselors may support you and your partner to cultivate mutual understanding and empathy. This can improve your ability to communicate, minimize disagreements, and reinforce your emotional connection.

The good news is you can develop your communication skills with the help of a licensed counselor. And those skills lead to a happier and more fulfilling marriage. With counseling, you and your partner may be able to improve your communication skills and tackle issues in a more constructive way. Sounds good, right? If you and your partner are ready to figure out how to communicate better, consider contacting Well Marriage Center for help.

How Do You Improve Communication Between Couples?

You probably have heard that “communication is key” in relationships. And while it is important, communication is just one piece of the puzzle regarding marriage counseling. But how do you make your communication better? Couples can improve their communication over time and with effort, but the following marriage counseling tips are helpful:

  • Focus on what your spouse says while actively listening to them without interjecting or passing judgment. Reflect on what they are saying and, if necessary, seek clarification.
  • To avoid blaming your spouse, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. When using “I” statements, you may say, for instance, “I feel worthless when you don’t listen to me” rather than “You never listen to me.”
  • Even if you don’t agree with your partner’s viewpoint or beliefs, respect them regardless. Attempt to understand their perspective and the reasons behind their emotional responses.
  • Consider the situation from your partner’s perspective and think about how they might feel when issues arise. Even if you disagree with their behavior and response to the situation, express empathy for their emotions.
  • Recognize your partner’s communication style and tone. When we have different ways of communicating the same thing without understanding, we can often end up in toxic cycles. An example of this is when one partner shuts down and the other keeps trying harder and “chasing.” This pursue-withdraw cycle can often be fixed with the help of a therapist.
  • Take accountability for your actions and don’t accuse or blame your partner for the problems you might have caused or contributed to. Owning up to any mistakes or poor reactions can help mend your communication and strengthen your relationship.

Improving communication between couples requires effort and patience, but with the right help and guidance, you’ll find you can grow as a couple and strengthen your relationship. But marriage counseling can help with more than communication—and believe it or not, communication isn’t always the most pressing issue.

What Can Couples Counseling Help With?

Counseling can help address many issues within a marriage or relationship, including:

  • Trust
  • Conflict resolution
  • Different values or goals
  • Intimacy & sex
  • Money concerns
  • Communication
  • Family dynamics
  • Life changes
  • Forgiveness

When one spouse feels hurt or betrayed by the other—through actions like cheating, lying, or broken promises—one of you might develop trust concerns. This might even lead to living separately during marriage counseling. In other cases, partners can disagree on important decisions because they have different priorities, values, or personal goals, which can strain the relationship. Other issues like intimacy can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction or disconnection. No matter what it boils down to, you might be struggling to resolve arguments in a healthy and productive way, which can result in continuous tension and frustration. 

In these cases, being open and honest during your sessions about what is impacting your relationship, even if it is a difficult topic, is an essential step to resolving any problems you might be facing. It’s important to remember that these problems can be complicated and it’s not unusual for couples to experience multiple challenges at once.

One essential piece of counseling for marriage problems is developing new ways to approach your relationship. To help couples communicate their needs and feelings more effectively, a counselor will introduce new skills and strategies during the sessions. At Well Marriage Center, we focus on strengths-based counseling where you and your partner can focus on building strong relationships to construct a solid foundation on which your marriage, or relationship, can grow.

How Can Marriage Counseling Help a Couple Improve Their Relationship?

Marriage counseling and couples therapy take commitment from both partners to be successful, so you should not consider it a “quick fix” for marital issues. However, statistics show that counseling does help couples improve, strengthen, and renew relationships. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy notes that over 75% of couples report improving their relationship after completing counseling. So how can marriage counseling help your relationship?

  • Resolving and managing conflict on important issues
  • Rebuilding trust and healthy patterns after an event such as infidelity and lying
  • Improving intimacy to connect physically and emotionally
  • Establishing open, honest, and respectful communication in a safe space
  • Understanding your partner, their needs, and their perspective
  • Learning new skills to face current and future challenges 
  • Addressing and working through past trauma and habits
  • Understanding emotional development, prior attachments, and coping mechanisms
  • Learning how to build new, healthier neural pathways over time

To start, it’s crucial to build on your relationship’s strengths to lay down the groundwork. After establishing that foundation, you and your partner should discuss your differences and identify areas of agreement. This can help couples resolve challenges and cultivate a more supportive and productive connection. Because a therapist is there for guidance and support, you don’t have to take these problems head-on. Instead, you can repair and rebuild your relationship with the help of an unbiased party. 

With specialized counselors like ours at Well Marriage Center, you can find success in couples therapy exercises that positively reinforce what you’ve learned during your sessions. Using our strengths-based approach, Well Marriage is dedicated to keeping couples together and avoiding separation whenever possible. 

What Do You Discuss in Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling is about addressing the problems you’re facing in your relationship. To do this, you’ll have to talk about some pretty difficult subjects—and that’s okay! To help you prepare for these hard discussions, here are some common questions marriage counselors ask:

Let’s Get to Know Each Other

During your intake meeting, your therapist will often begin with questions about you, your partner, and your relationship with one another. Some topics you should expect to discuss include your relationship history and how you got to where you are today. 

  • How did you meet each other?
  • What attracted you to one another?
  • What do you respect about each other?
  • How was your relationship before marriage? (Or in the beginning, for those not married.)
  • What are your expectations for counseling?
  • What challenges would you like to address?

It’s Time to Dive Deeper

Once your therapist gets to know you better as a couple, they will start asking more in-depth questions regarding your relationship.

  • How do you communicate with each other?
  • What are some of your shared values and beliefs?
  • How do you spend time together?
  • How do you handle conflict and disagreements?
  • How do you express love and affection?
  • How do you handle stress and difficult situations as a couple?

Tackle the Problems Head-On

Now come the nitty-gritty questions that might be hard to answer, but will ultimately lead to better results in communication and other relationship skills. To help the couple identify underlying problems, explore delicate subjects, and challenge harmful habits in their relationship, therapists may pose some challenging questions.

  • Do you feel like you can be vulnerable and open with your partner?
  • Are you both committed to making this relationship work?
  • What specific behaviors or actions have hurt your partner in the past?
  • Do you feel that your partner truly understands you and your needs?
  • How have past traumas or experiences impacted your relationship?
  • Do you feel that you are both putting in equal effort to maintain the relationship?

We’ve Finished Treatment, What’s Next?

To help you reflect on your development and gauge the effectiveness of counseling, a therapist may pose several questions at the conclusion of treatment.

  • How do you feel about the progress you have made during counseling?
  • What specific skills or strategies have you learned?
  • Are there any unresolved issues or concerns that you still need to work on as a couple?
  • How have your communication and conflict resolution skills improved?
  • Do you feel that you have gained the tools and resources needed to maintain a healthy relationship?
  • Have you noticed any changes in how you relate to each other outside of the counseling sessions?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the questions you will explore with a marriage counselor, but they provide a snapshot of what you can expect from therapy. With a licensed counselor, you’ll be able to dive into the root causes of your relationship problems, and answering questions openly and honestly is essential to finding success. With Well Marriage’s approach, you can strengthen your relationship and find a deeper connection with your partner. It all starts with a 90-minute initial session and a structured relationship strengths and wellness evaluation.

Questions to Ask During Marriage Counseling

When it comes to marriage counseling questions to strengthen your relationship, you should consider what your goals are for counseling and, ultimately, your marriage. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re working together to find a solution that works best for both of you. However, it’s hard to get to that point without understanding your partner’s perspective or explaining your own. So what should you ask your partner during counseling sessions? Remember that learning valuable communication skills is an important part of marriage counseling, so your questions should reflect your goal of listening to your partner and learning their needs.

  • How do you feel about our relationship as it is? Do you have any expectations?
  • What are your most important needs in our relationship?
  • How do you feel when we argue or disagree?
  • What are the most significant sources of conflict in our relationship?
  • How can I help support you and meet your needs?

Understanding each other’s perspectives is essential to strengthening your relationship. When you ask questions, be sure to ask both pointed questions about your partner and how they feel, as well as questions you can both answer, like “How can we improve our communication with one another?” 

This allows you both to speak your mind and determine what would be best for both of you. Some may worry that a couples therapist is biased. Couples therapists will often spend a session with each partner as individuals to get a stronger sense of the situation, but if you find yourself in a session with a counselor that chooses sides, you should reconsider if that environment is best for you and your partner to strengthen your relationship. A professional counselor like ours here at Well Marriage want to help you renew your relationship and grow stronger together, not pick sides.

Strengthen Your Relationship with Well Marriage Center

With the help of counselors like ours at Well Marriage, you’ll work with a licensed counselor that takes a strengths-based approach to counseling. More than 15,000 couples have benefited from our counseling so far in improving their relationships, healing from past hurts, and finding new intimacy. We provide a clinically supported, scientific approach to repair your relationship and strengthen your future commitment through in-person, virtual, or hybrid sessions. We are the largest Couples Specialty Center in the US for good reason!. If you’d like to learn more about our services or set up an appointment, please reach out to our Intake Coordinator, Melinda, using our intake form.

 

 

 

Can Marriage Be Saved After Infidelity?

Yes, you can save your marriage after infidelity if both partners are committed to repairing the relationship.

Affair recovery takes serious work and transparency, but it is possible. And if you’re wondering, “Can therapy help with cheating?” The answer is, absolutely.

Our experienced counselors at Well Marriage Center have successfully guided many couples through the stages of healing after infidelity. A big part of what we do is help partners get to, and make a plan to fix, the root causes and dynamics that led to cheating. So much healing can happen when both sides reach a true understanding of the other, from why the offender cheated to an exploration of the victim’s hurt.

We’ve gathered the top six mistakes we see from both parties in affair recovery so that you can avoid these pitfalls yourself. Remember, it won’t be an easy process, but with the right attitudes and a lot of work, you two can make your marriage stronger than it’s ever been.

6 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes to Avoid After Infidelity

People are more likely to make rash decisions when emotions are high after one partner discovers the other is being unfaithful. These high emotions can include anger and lashing out, humiliation, and decreased feelings of self-worth for both partners. When our feelings are going through such a roller coaster, it’s easy to fall into common, human mistakes that make the already traumatic situation worse long-term. Consider these six most common mistakes our counselors see from couples going through affair recovery: 

1. Pretending Everything Is Normal

Your relationship or marriage will never be the same after infidelity. This realization will probably hurt at first, but it’s also helpful to acknowledge. The betrayed partner is likely furious and devastated, and they may even feel some detachment after infidelity. They want to know how to stop overthinking after being cheated on and move forward with their life. The offender must consistently show they take responsibility for their actions in multiple ways. For example, they may need to increase communication about where they are and who they are with to show their partner that they will not be a repeat offender. 

2. Confronting the Affair Partner

Finding out your partner cheated on you usually results in an explosion of powerful emotions. Looking to direct those feelings somewhere, folks sometimes feel justified confronting the “other” person. In most cases, this confrontation will only make marriage reconciliation harder. You may learn things you’d prefer not to know or even encourage that person to pursue your spouse. There are some circumstances where a confrontation may be necessary, however. For example, a confrontation will likely be unavoidable if the victim regularly interacts with the affair partner.

3. Not Cutting off Contact With the Affair Partner

The offender must choose to cut off all contact with their affair partner. Note we said “choose.” The choice to officially leave their affair partner needs to be theirs alone. If they feel like they don’t want to stop contacting their affair partner, then they need to reconsider why they’re in a marriage to someone else in the first place. Offenders who are fully committed to cutting off the other person should discuss with their spouse how they plan to get this person out of their lives, like blocking them on their cell phone and social media.

4. Taking Revenge

We know you really want to dig your keys into the side of their pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive—but don’t do it, to your partner or the person they cheated with. Acts of revenge will only provide a short-lived feeling of satisfaction, and they do not contribute to healing after an affair (no matter what Ms. Carrie Underwood says). Revenge further deteriorates trust between partners and will likely add to feelings of shame and embarrassment.

5. Asking For Too Much or Too Little Information

The betrayed spouse needs to consider how much they want to know about the affair. Some information will only be painful to learn and hinder moving forward, like asking if the sex was “good.” However, you also don’t want a surprising, painful detail to come out about the affair years down the road. A good balance between these two is finding out how long the affair was going on. This question will reveal how serious your partner was about this person—was it a year-long affair with regular meetings, or was it a one-time mistake? The healing process will look different depending on your partner’s answer to this question. A counselor who specializes in affair recovery will be able to tailor your recovery journey based on this and other information.

6. Not Seeking Professional Therapy

Staying married after infidelity is not easy, but a marriage counselor with years of experience and education can make it much easier. They will guide you through the chaotic impact of infidelity on the betrayed spouse as well as the offender. 

Many couples suffering from an affair come to us at Well Marriage Center feeling hopeless. We get it, and if you feel this way, please know your feelings are entirely normal and valid. However, simply showing up to marriage counseling is a step in the right direction. 

Our counselors have helped couple after couple recover from infidelity by encouraging patience, honesty, care, and a willingness to make necessary changes. These results are the beauty of our strengths-based counseling approach, as we do everything we can to help you focus on the positives of your relationship and rebuild trust and love in a lasting way.

If you want to save your marriage through counseling after infidelity, schedule an appointment with us. Our intake coordinator, Melinda, can answer any questions you may have about our process. We look forward to meeting you and working together to restore the trust and love in your marriage.

 

 

 

Forgiveness in Relationships

It’s been said that in forgiving others we give ourselves permission to move forward with our own lives, and there’s some truth to that. Hitting the same road block, going back emotionally to the same thing over and over, puts a huge strain on us physically and stunts our relationships with ourselves and others. It damages our hearts and our bodies to carry such stress around each day. Forgiving your partner, when you choose to, has many benefits.

On Forgiveness

Whether the harm was intentional or not, it takes both people in the relationship or marriage working together to move to a place of forgiveness. If you were the one who “messed up,” for example, you will need to hear your partner’s deepest feelings, work with them on what they need to forgive, and accept boundaries that make them feel safe enough to trust again. You will also need to explain your position and the “why” of it all. If you are the partner who wants to forgive, you will have to be very vulnerable and put into words the reasons why you are stuck at this point and can’t move forward. You’ll have to really hear and understand your partner’s position. You’ll both need to be prepared to work with your therapist and try the skills and tools they present.

We mention therapists here because the art of forgiveness between couples is further complicated by other baggage we carry—childhood traumas and the subsequent protective walls we put up, our inability to communicate, our fear and confusion, our mistrust of the situation and our partners. Typically, if someone is really struggling to forgive, even though they want to forgive, there are deeper elements at play in the relationship and a specialist can help you both navigate the situation in a healthy and productive manner.

The Silver Lining

Whatever caused your unique need for forgiveness  (we all know it’s not always infidelity that creates rifts between couples)  it is possible to forgive and move forward again.

A truly inspiring element of the human condition is that as we work through these issues in healthy ways, we come out on the other side closer, more loving, and with a real understanding and compassion that we often lacked before. This can be so beneficial for a couple.

To get started, reach out to our intake coordinator Melinda. She’ll make sure you get placed with a skilled therapist that deeply cares about saving your situation.

 

What Are the Different Kinds of Couples Therapy?

Just like there are many kinds of couples, there are many kinds of couples therapy. Each approach to couples therapy is rooted in its own specific theories about relationships, emotions, and human complexity, and a skilled therapist will often combine these techniques to create a unique program for your unique needs.

Relationships are very complicated–which is why there’s no shame or failure in seeking out couples therapy or marriage counseling as soon as you think you need it. Setting the intention to do better in your relationship means taking action to give yourself and your partner a happier life. Some couples even begin their romantic journey with therapy right off the bat to create a more solid foundation for the future.

There are lots of ideas about how to best restore or preserve the joy in a relationship…which is great news, because it means there are couples therapy techniques best suited for you and your love. 

What Type of Therapy is Best for Relationship Problems

The best type of therapy for relationship problems addresses the unique challenges of the couple’s situation and promotes lasting healing in the relationship. Here are just some of the kinds of couples therapy a therapist may utilize or combine elements of:

  • Dr. Ellyn Bader – Developmental Model of Couples Therapy 

This approach is our personal favorite. It is focused on developing the couple as a team by nurturing skills and strengths in each individual. 

  • Dr. John Gottman – Gottman Institute

Gottman Method couples therapy prioritizes verbal communication, helping the couple reduce conflict in conversations and increase attention and affection throughout the relationship. 

  • Dr. Sue Johnson – Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally-focused couples therapy leverages cutting-edge research into the science of emotional attachment styles to make sense of past problems and achieve lasting change for the couple. 

  • Dr. Harville Hendrix – Imago Therapy

Imago Therapy helps get to the root of a couple’s issues by promoting understanding of each others’ childhood experiences and the resulting needs as an adult. 

  • Dr. Esther Perel – Eroticism and Desire

This approach to couples therapy recognizes that our erotic life also comes with inner struggles, tensions, and anxieties. Through improved self-worth and vulnerability, the couple’s desire also recovers. 

  • Dr. Terry Real – Relational Life Institute

Relational Life Therapy is one of the most popular behavioral couples therapy techniques. Each individual is shown by the therapist how their behaviors are harming the relationship, and then those behaviors are addressed and overcome as a team.

 At Well Marriage Center we approach couples therapy with a focus on preserving the relationship and helping partners renew their appreciation of each others’ strengths. Our therapists always prioritize interested continued learning of proven approaches like these and others.

Which Form of Therapy Is Typically Used During a Couples Therapy Session?

In cases like Relational Life Therapy or Imago Therapy, the couple will likely know going in that these specific forms of therapy are being used. They may even seek out or be matched with a specialist, especially if other approaches to couples therapy have not worked in the past. If one of the above approaches sounds appealing to you and your partner, that’s a great direction to start your search.

But remember, the outcomes achieved are always more important than using a specific method. As the expert, a therapist may use techniques from a few complimentary schools of therapy. It all depends on the needs of the couple. And, just like with other forms of medicine, the treatment which works at first may need to be adjusted or supplemented as you enter new and healthier phases of life. Your therapist will learn about you as individuals and the complex issues your relationship faces to create a customized approach, pulling from these different approaches.

What Is Couples Therapy Like?

There are some universal things you can expect from good couples therapy. Whether you try EFT, Gottman Method, the Developmental Model, or something else, make sure the therapist is working in favor of your relationship with these main points:

  • You will start the conversation focused on the positives and why you want to keep choosing the relationship. 
  • The therapist will ask questions and help each partner speak equally in the conversation. 
  • You should always feel encouraged, not judged. But you may not always feel comfortable as wounds are discussed and behaviors are addressed. Change is hard, and your therapist should be a coach along that path.
  • Homework between sessions will help you and your partner apply what you have learned and develop new daily patterns of love and appreciation. 

Well Marriage Center: Not Just for Married Couples

Though we are called Well Marriage Center, we celebrate all couples and their desire to improve their intimacy. Whether it’s couples therapy for boyfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend, girlfriend and girlfriend, theyfriend and theyfriend–your gender, sexuality, and the legal status of your relationship are not what matters to us. We even help people have better relationships with themselves or other family members! The world is built on relationships of all sorts and we’re here to help people connect better.

We are more interested in the journey that has brought you to our door and how we can help you leave happier and healthier! You don’t have to have that answer ready for us. We will help you figure out what you need and how to move forward. Please connect with our intake coordinator Melinda by phone or email to learn more about how we match you with a therapist that is uniquely suited to support the restoration of your relationship. We can’t wait to meet you!

What Techniques Do Marriage Counselors Use?

Marriage counseling provides space and opportunity for couples of all types to build upon their partnership, wherever they are in their relationship journey. However, if you’re new to the idea of couples therapy (or therapy at all), you may have questions about it—and whether it’s worth trying. You might be wondering what to expect in a session, what sorts of couples therapy techniques are being used, or if couples therapy even works at all. Well, look no further: we’re here to help. Let’s talk a bit about marriage counseling, some things you can expect in a session, and how we believe it can help any relationship—including yours!

Can Therapy Help with Relationship Problems?

The short answer is yes—it absolutely can! In fact, as of 2022, couples therapy has never been more helpful in restoring, rebuilding, or even just improving relationships. A recent study by the Journal of Marital & Family Therapy found that 70% of couples saw therapy as helpful, or even integral, in renewing their partnership. For some types of therapy, that rate is even higher! This, combined with other factors, has contributed to a steady decline in divorce rates in the United States since the early 1980’s.

Part of this success for marriage counseling is due to the fact that we now have various proven methods of counseling couples, all of which are meant to fit various relationship stages, areas of concern, or focuses for improvement. To answer more of your couples therapy questions, let’s dive into five of those techniques, and what benefits each of them can provide to your marriage.

Five Types of Couples Therapy

Here, we will cover five different techniques that are proven to have positive results: Behavioral Marital Therapy, the Developmental Model, the Gottman Method, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Imago Therapy. Ultimately, every relationship is different and requires a unique approach, but these five can provide a good starting point for establishing therapy goals or even prescribing couples therapy exercises:

  1. Behavioral Marital Therapy—a myriad of techniques based around encouraging good communication and positively reinforcing good behavior. This technique theorizes that the behaviors most enforced in a relationship—positive or negative—are the ones that will most likely be repeated.
  2. The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy—also known as the Bader-Pearson model, this technique theorizes  that relationships, like people, have different developmental stages of intimacy, and that each partner arrives at each development stage on an individual level. This suggests that many of the challenges couples face are from being in different developmental stages, and the best solutions depend on the unique combination of development stages between partners.
  3. The Gottman Method—developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, this method targets four key behaviors that cause harm to relationships (which we’ll discuss later), then gives couples techniques to notice, avoid, and even replace these behaviors. They do this using nine key principles to foster healthy relationships, including Trust, Commitment, Building Love Maps, and more.
  4. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)—this model “prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation” as the central factor in relationship building. Emotionally focused couples therapy aims to strengthen emotional bonds in couples first, which in turn should translate to improving other aspects of the marriage or relationship.
  5. Imago Therapy—a theory that elevates working with the inner child, therapists who employ Imago will aim to help couples “understand each other’s feelings and ‘childhood wounds’ more empathically, allowing them to heal themselves and their relationships.”

Let’s dive a bit deeper into one of these techniques, also one of the most popular: the Gottman Method.

What Is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?

Gottman couples therapy techniques are backed by decades of research, reports, and discussions around what makes marriages work. Through their research, they’ve been able to pinpoint four communication behaviors that predict divorce, which they have dubbed the Four Horsemen:

    • Criticism: inherently negative observations and personal attacks from one partner to the other
    • Defensiveness: response to any criticism—even constructive—with hostility or denial of responsibility
    • Contempt: a loss of respect for the other partner; this is the highest predictor of divorce
    • Stonewalling: communication shuts down, and what rare communication remains is oftentimes hostile

While each of these might be present at some point in a marriage, their presence does not mean a marriage can’t be saved. Rather, they serve as a sign that there is opportunity to add more positive communication techniques into a marriage, something that marriage counseling can certainly help with. Gottman proposes nine such behaviors—known at the Sound Relationship House—that can be used to root out the Four Horsemen from a marriage, all by building a solid “house” of layered principles. They are as follows, in this specific order:

  1. Build Love Maps—cataloging “essential guide to your partner’s inner world,” including likes, dislikes, and other key facts about them
  2. Share Fondness and Admiration—the practice of telling your partner the things you like about them
  3. Turn Towards—actively responding to your partner when they “bid” for your attention, help, or support.
  4. Positive Perspective—not rushing to criticism, and assuming the best case scenario when your partner does something that rubs you the wrong way (i.e. “perhaps they didn’t realize this affected me this way”)
  5. Conflict Management—not avoiding conflict, but having a method to resolve it healthily
  6. Make Life Dreams Come True—supporting each other’s goals, and even helping achieve them
  7. Create Shared Meaning—like Love Maps, building a guide to an inner world, but for your relationship
  8. Trust—one of the “weight bearing walls,” focused on establishing mutual trust
  9. Commitment—the other “weight bearing wall,” developing faith in the relationship and your partner

Each of these nine tenets comes with their own exercises, techniques, and suggestions for improvement in the marriage. Keep in mind, this is just a brief overview of the Gottman method, and the specific approach will vary depending on what your therapist determines is a key focus. Also note that the Gottman method is just one of many techniques available to help with your marriage; an experienced therapist, like our team at Well Marriage Center, can determine what techniques may be right for your relationship. 

Want to Learn More About Marriage Counseling?

If you’re interested in learning more about what kind of therapy will best suit your partnership, we at Well Marriage Center are here for you. Our therapists implement the best, most proven techniques—like the five described above—to create a unique strategy for every marriage. We have worked with over 15,000 couples (both in person and virtually) to help partners rediscover all of the beauty their relationships hold, and if you work with us, we can help you do the same.

Ready to fall in love with your partner all over again? Please schedule an appointment with our intake coordinator Melinda to take the next step on your relationship journey. We look forward to hearing from you.

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. 


 

 

A Marriage that Heals

Written by Glen Denlinger

There are numerous functions and purposes for marital love. One our society doesn’t talk about enough is the healing function of marriage. As children we all experience woundedness, some more so than others. In addition to struggles from childhood, emotional pain is something we experience and accumulate all throughout life. 

Love, Warts and All

Marriage has a unique comforting and healing component to it. Allowing someone to intrinsically love us, warts and all, is part of that healing component and especially so for our childhood pain. Frequently we hold back from being vulnerable in our closest relationships and limit that healing.

Sometimes, too, love unfortunately becomes toxic and it isn’t safe to be vulnerable. When that happens, ideally it is only for a season. We learn to work our way out of negative emotional cycles and keep growing forward together with our partner. Couples therapy is designed to help us turn our marriages around and make them safe places where transparency and vulnerability occur and healing happens.

Growing Past the Disappointments

Another way marriage is designed to heal is by disappointing us. That may sound strange but after the honeymoon phase of love, disillusionment often sets in. Sometimes the disillusionment phase doesn’t come until many years later. Choosing to love a spouse when they disappoint us can grow us up inside and bring healing, growth and maturity to a fractured and wounded self.

While paradoxical, it’s somewhat like the benefit forgiving provides the person doing the forgiving. Counselors will tell you there are several types of forgiveness. There is the healthy and functional type, but there is also the doormat and enabling type which doesn’t promote healing at all.

Marriage counseling, or couples therapy, is designed to walk you through both the childhood pain and resulting toxic emotional cycles, as well as through disappointments and disillusionment that often show up in long-term relationships. We all get to choose how our love grows or stagnates.

Doing the Work

Is your marriage or significant relationship one that provides healing and growth for both you and your partner? If not, help is readily available. Changing and improving the relationship to make it healing is worth all the effort it takes to make that happen.

 


 



50 Marriage Counseling Questions for Before and During Marriage

Marriage counseling—to some, it indicates failure. To others, it’s a sign of hope. And to many, it’s new and unknown territory, one that might have you Googling “marriage counseling tips” or “ground rules for couples therapy” on your phone in the middle of the night. 

At Well Marriage Center, we’re all about debunking couples therapy myths and showing people the very possible and positive outcomes that can result from counseling. This is why we love answering questions like, “How can marriage counseling help a couple improve their relationship?” and “What can we expect during couples therapy?” Clients who ask these kinds of questions and who are willing to work through issues are usually the ones who find the most success from relationship counseling. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together 50 of our favorite counseling questions for the different stages of a relationship. We hope this will help you feel a bit more comfortable and prepared for the journey. Plus, we’ll give you a few tips to make the most of each therapy session. 

Premarital Counseling

Premarital (aka “pre-marriage”) counseling is an excellent way to embark on the adventure of marriage with your partner. Even if your relationship has gone relatively smoothly so far, time and the pressures of married life can introduce new and unforeseen issues. 

Those who are new to the concept of premarital counseling might wonder—does it actually work? Will it create more problems instead of solving potential issues? Many scholars, psychologists, social workers, and beyond have asked these same questions, and there are plenty of studies demonstrating the positive effects of premarital counseling. 

For example, one clinical research study entitled “Marital Satisfaction: The Impact of Premarital and Couples Counseling” found that “participants who had taken part in premarital counseling do show a trend toward high marital satisfaction.”

Another study, “Using What Premarital Couples Already Know to Inform Marriage Education” found that, “…marriage education may assist in the couples’ identification of factors that enhance and hinder their relationship. Furthermore, couples may be able to apply this knowledge to make lasting changes in their relationships.”

So we ask you—why not try it? Why not start your marriage off with the tools to enhance your relationship? Why not identify possible roadblocks and ways to overcome them? Any married couple will tell you marriage isn’t easy, but it can be an easier, happier, and more fulfilling experience through premarital counseling. 

What Kind of Questions Are Asked in Pre-Marriage Counseling?

To get started with our 50 relationship counseling questions, let’s check out some of the more common pre-marriage counseling questions for couples we like to ask at Well Marriage Center:

  • When you are about to see your partner, what thoughts and feelings go through your mind?
  • If you had to name your partner’s top three dreams or aspirations, what would they be?
  • How important is wealth to you, and how do you feel about debt?
  • What are your plans for financing large purchases, such as a house, cars, or your children’s college education? 
  • How do you plan to budget and organize your money? For example, will you keep separate or joint accounts?
  • Do you have any retirement plans currently in place? And how are you planning for retirement together as a couple?
  • What rituals do you currently have, like date nights, daily routines, weekend getaways, or vacations? And how have you shared these rituals with one another? 
  • How do you currently celebrate special occasions now, like anniversaries or holidays? And how would you like to blend or take part in those traditions together? For example, if your extended families live far apart, how will you choose where to spend time for major holidays?
  • How do you plan to sustain intimacy throughout your relationships? 
  • How would you describe your sexual needs and desires, and are there specific ways you’d like your partner to meet those needs?
  • Are you both on the same page when it comes to having children? If you want children, how many would you like to have? If infertility is an issue, how do you plan to address that?
  • What is your sense of humor like? Does your partner experience humor in the same way?
  • How do you plan to divide household chores?
  • Do you both have the same values or religious beliefs? If not, how do you plan to navigate those differences?
  • What does “infidelity” or “cheating” mean to you, and what are your fears or expectations about this in your relationship? 

Pre-Marriage Counseling Tips

Coming to premarital counseling having done your research is a great way to start the process. You’ll have time to consider questions beforehand and know what to expect. During the actual counseling session, here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Seek to know each other deeply. When we’re dating someone, we have a tendency to be on our best behavior. But nobody is perfect, and everyone has flaws and weaknesses. Use premarital counseling as an opportunity to understand each other on a more meaningful level—the good and challenging parts!
  • Make sure you address the big stuff. Money, sex, children, religion, substance abuse, politics—these areas can create serious problems if you and your partner have different viewpoints. For example, if your partner is a practicing Buddhist and you’re an atheist, or you’re a recovering alcoholic and your partner drinks regularly—these are not necessarily deal breakers, but they are definitely issues that should be addressed and fleshed out before marriage.
  • Don’t ignore any nagging feelings. You may learn things about your partner you didn’t know before, and anything that bothers you now will no doubt continue to bother you as time goes on. If something new comes up and it worries you, premarital counseling is the perfect place to address it. 

Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy

The topics addressed in marriage counseling (aka “couples therapy”) are usually a bit different than premarital counseling. Newer relationships can use premarital counseling to fully discover and understand one another, while married couples or those in a committed, long-term relationship might be past the discovery stage and looking to find their way back to one another. 

However, many of the themes in both types of counseling are the same. Both seek to address potential or present issues, overcome those challenges, and prevent them in the future. We see married and unmarried couples at Well Marriage Center looking for proactive ways to make their relationship better.

What Are Some Couples Counseling First Session Questions?

The questions and discussions topics in your first counseling session will allow your counselor to get to know you and your partner. Even as you answer these icebreaker questions, though, your counselor will be observing how you interact with one another to better inform their advice and approach in future therapy sessions.

At Well Marriage Center, all of our first sessions are extended to 90 minutes, since our counselors will need a little extra time to get to know you and your partner. In that initial session, your Well Marriage Center counselor will begin with a structured relationship strengths and wellness assessment. We like to think of it as starting on a positive note to remind you both what brought you together in the first place. The following sessions will dig progressively deeper, but that first session is a time for discovery between you and your counselor—and you and your partner.

Curious about the kinds of questions to expect during your first session? Here are a few your counselor may start with:

  • What is the story on how the two of you met
  • What initially attracted you to each other
  • What were some of your initial “admirations” of each other
  • What are 3 good times you’ve had together…and what made them good
  • In general, how would you describe your life and marriage together?
  • What does the timeline of your relationship look like? Can you tell me about major life events (new jobs, traumas, kids, etc.) from when you first met up through present day
  • 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?

What Do Couples Talk About in Marriage Counseling?

The good—but sometimes tough—talks can begin once you and your partner have brought your counselor up to speed. However, answering the question of “What do you talk about during marriage counseling?” is a little challenging due to the varying needs of each couple. 

Every counselor will have their own couples therapy techniques to better understand their clients and get to the root of each problem. These techniques might include answering basic questions that prompt discussion, taking turns to be active listeners, engaging in activities to reveal new things about your relationship, and more.

Ultimately, depending on which counselor you work with and the particular nature of your relationship, every discussion in couples therapy will be unique. And because each counselor will work a little differently, you might find that one counselor is a better fit over another. That’s okay! If one therapist isn’t working out, it doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed or all hope is lost. It simply means another counselor may have a different approach that works better for you and your partner. 

What Questions Are Asked in Couples Therapy?

Even though every couples therapy session will look a little different from couple to couple, there are some general questions you will likely work through as your counseling sessions progress, like:

  • What made you fall in love with your partner originally? And why do you think your partner fell in love with you? 
  • What are the biggest similarities between you and your partner? And what are the biggest differences?  
  • If you could resolve any of your relationship problems in an instant, which problem would you choose? 
  • Think about your communication with your partner when you’re experiencing different emotions—happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disappointment, etc. How does this affect your and your partner’s ability to communicate? 
  • What are some ways that you show your partner you care, love, and appreciate them? How do you feel they demonstrate this back to you?
  • What is your favorite and least favorite childhood memory? Do you know your partner’s favorite and least favorite childhood memory?
  • Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night thinking about your relationship? If so, what is the number one thing that crosses your mind?
  • How would you describe your sex life? Is there anything your partner could do to make your sexual relationship better? What have you done to improve sex in your marriage?
  • If your partner does something that bothers you, how do you address that with them? And when your partner brings up issues they may have with you, how do you handle or act on that? 
  • Does your partner treat you with the level of respect you desire? Is it the same, better, or worse than the beginning of your relationship? Why do you think that is?
  • Are there any dreams you or your partner have yet to accomplish? If so, what’s stopping you from accomplishing them?
  • Have there been any times in your relationship where you felt you could not be your genuine self? Why did you feel that way?
  • Do you and your partner enjoy any activities or shared hobbies together? Are there any that you do alone? And do you like having your own hobbies, or do you like to share them with your partner? 
  • Which topic or area do you have the most trouble opening up about with your partner? Why do you think that is? 

What Are Questions to Ask During Marriage Counseling to Your Counselor?

Therapy is always a two way street—between you and your partner, but also between you and your counselor. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist questions before starting counseling and during your sessions. Here are some questions that you might want to consider asking your therapist at different points during your counseling journey:

  • What is your education, training, and background as a marriage counselor?
  • How many years of experience do you have, including the required supervised clinical experience you had to complete to obtain your license?
  • Are you a licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, or something else? And how does this background influence your work?
  • How many couples do you see a week? Have you made couples counseling your sole speciality?
  • Do you have any client testimonials or stories you can share with us?
  • What’s the average number of therapy sessions your successful clients go through? And how many would you recommend for us after understanding our present issues and goals?
  • Do you feel that we are making progress? Why or why not?
  • Are there additional resources you offer that we can take advantage of along with attending counseling sessions?

How Do You Have a Successful Marriage Counseling Session? Try Well Marriage Center

Trust us, we get it—relationships today face numerous hurdles, expectations, and pressures. With so much negativity weighing down on us everyday, our counselors like to take a positive, pro-relationship approach to couples therapy sessions. This means we focus on the good that you bring to your relationship, how to harness your strengths, and ultimately advocate for a successful marriage. 

With this approach, we have found our clients spend less time in therapy and can more effectively navigate relationship challenges. Our experienced and licensed counselors have a wide variety of techniques and marriage counseling questions to strengthen your relationship, tailoring every experience to your unique story.  

If you’re ready to take that first step, start by filling out our short intake form and setting up a consultation with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She is happy to answer any questions you may have, walk you through the process, and ensure you are connected with the best counselor for your needs. 

Is couples therapy easy? No—it takes work from both sides. But is it worth it for a happier, stronger, and healthier relationship? Absolutely. 


 

Average Length of Marriage Counseling

There’s no sugar-coating it—successful relationships sometimes require genuinely hard work. In some cases, adding the pressures of married life (not to mention kids, a lost job, family tragedy, and so on) to the mix can create new challenges for an otherwise healthy-enough seeming couple, or exacerbate those that already exist. The good news is that help is available in the form of marriage counseling. But how do you know if marriage counseling is really worth it? How much time and effort does the process require? And can you expect to find a better, healthier relationship on the other side, or is there a chance you’ll find yourselves just spinning your wheels without seeing real progress?

At Well Marriage Center, we understand these anxieties and want to help couples of all types to rediscover the joys of a healthy relationship. We’ve put this particular blog together to help you answer some of the most common questions we hear from couples considering counseling who want to make sure they get their money’s worth and, more importantly, improve their relationships. 

In this piece, we’ll not only answer the question of how long marriage counseling tends to take—we’ll also provide you with some pointers to ensure that if you commit to counseling you’ll have a positive and productive experience.

How Do You Know When It’s Time for Couples Counseling?

While every relationship is as unique as the two individuals themselves, it’s worth knowing the types of signs that your marriage or relationship could benefit from counseling. There are many, many factors that can create relationship problems, but here are a few of the most common, foundational signs that your relationship might be improved through counseling:

  • Communication is breaking down (or has been broken for a while): A huge subset of marriage problems center around issues related to communication. When couples lose the ability to consistently engage in open, honest communication, it can exacerbate existing issues, create new issues, or both. A major component of marriage counseling is the re-opening of communication channels and the development of healthier communication methods. 
  • You’ve lost that loving feeling: For many couples, changes to how they demonstrate affection and cultivate intimacy can signal one or more issues. For example, perhaps one partner withholds affection or allows resentment to fester. Maybe it’s gotten to the point that one or more partners is considering infidelity as a means of fulfilling their needs for intimacy and security. Even at this stage, counseling can help repair relationships.
  • Trust has eroded: Once one partner begins to lose trust in the other—whether due to infidelity or other factors—it can become a slippery slope toward conflict and divorce. Negative feelings can quickly snowball, especially when they’re not properly explored, expressed, and worked through. In these situations, a marriage counselor can help reset the dynamic nature of a partnership, build new foundations for communication and trust, and lay the groundwork for a better, happier relationship.

When Do Most Couples Consider Marriage Counseling?

All too often, couples begin marriage counseling weeks, months, or even years after problems begin to emerge within the relationship. This is perfectly understandable, as it can be difficult to know (in the present) whether relationship issues are serious or not. It can also be difficult from an emotional standpoint to acknowledge that there are problems in the relationship. Finally, especially for those who have never experienced any form of professional counseling before, it can be an intimidating prospect. The time component can seem overwhelming, as can the anxiety of delving into deeply personal, emotional matters. This is where humanity’s well-documented “fear of the unknown” comes into play, as well. 

All of that being said, when it really comes down to it, according to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, most couples aren’t exactly prompt in seeking out counseling at the first signs of marital issues. In fact, most couples wait two years from the onset of a problem. That’s two years for issues to manifest even more deeply, and for the relationship to potentially become even more damaged. The good news is, there’s no time like the present to take the first step in healing the relationship by connecting with a marriage counselor. 

Should Every Couple Go To Therapy?

No, we don’t believe every couple necessarily needs therapy—but we also don’t necessarily think it could hurt. However, we understand that there’s a certain stigma around couples therapy and marriage counseling when private thoughts question whether the fact that you’re considering therapy means your relationship has failed. It doesn’t! 

Even couples—including married couples—who would say their relationship is good (if not great) could potentially benefit from the communication and trust-building strategies that come with counseling. It’s also worth noting that Well Marriage Center also offers premarital counseling, which can help couples strengthen their relationship (prior to getting married) by establishing a solid foundation for communication and openness.

Is It Appropriate To Undergo Marriage Counseling When You Want a Divorce?

It’s absolutely appropriate! Just because one or both of you might be considering divorce, it doesn’t mean the marriage is a lost cause. If both parties are open to reconciliation and willing to put in the work, marriage counseling can be a relationship-saver, especially with a pro-relationship counseling approach (like Well Marriage Center’s).

How Long Should Marriage Counseling Last?

While many variables may impact how long a specific couple spends with their marriage counselor, you can generally expect, on average, anywhere from 12 to 25 counseling sessions. These will normally start off with a discovery-based focus, with the counselor asking baseline-type questions to better understand the relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, individual sessions can be more tactical, working through specific problems and developing patterns for better relationship-building.  

What Is the Average Length of Counseling Sessions, and How Frequently Do They Occur?

Counseling sessions typically last for around 50 minutes, and they’re often scheduled on a weekly basis to start and eventually move to twice a month and then just once a month. This frequency allows us to spread out the course of counseling (keeping it more affordable) and stay with you longer, anywhere from 4 to 10 months. A counselor will often work with you to determine a cadence that will fit the participants’ schedules.

What Percentage of Marriages Survive After Counseling?

If you’re one of the many people or couples asking yourself questions like “Does marriage counseling work?” and “Is marriage counseling worth it?” then this section’s for you. 

If you’re particularly results-driven, you’re probably wondering, “What percentage of marriages survive after counseling?” Fortunately, counseling does work a majority of the time. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 90% of counseling clients report an improvement in their emotional health after receiving treatment. More specific to the marriage counseling success rate, over 75% of marital or family therapy clients report an improvement in their relationship as a result of counseling.

What Factors Impact the Length of Counseling?

For many people considering counseling, the time component is just one piece of the puzzle. In reality, several distinct factors impact how long a particular couple may need to attend marriage counseling. Of these, one of the most important is how well the counselor and participants establish rapport and trust. When a trusting bond is established early on, individual sessions can focus on specific, relevant topics, prioritized by importance. With that in mind, then, let’s next explore a few variables related to both the counselor and the participants. 

What To Look for in a Marriage Counselor

Signs of a Good Couples Therapist

A good couples therapist or marriage counselor is an advocate for repairing and strengthening relationships (as opposed to throwing in the towel). At Well Marriage Center, our counselors practice what’s called pro-relationship marriage counseling (as opposed to marriage-neutral counseling). This means our number one goal is to help couples stay together. This approach helps alleviate some of the anxiety couples might feel toward counseling, where they fear that counseling might make the relationship worse—if not lead to divorce. You can learn more about our Wellness Model here. 

Additional signs of a good couples therapist or marriage counselor include:

  • A specialization (supported by specific training) in relationships and marriages
  • An approach that focuses on couples succeeding and staying together
  • Experience working with different types of marital problems
  • A communication style that is relatable and builds trust

Signs of a Bad Marriage Counselor

To be effective in their work, a marriage counselor needs to be able to build trust with their clients, ask probing questions, listen carefully, and get to the root of their problems. In other words, just like in a marriage, communication is key to the counselor-participant relationship. Without open communication, the possibility of positive outcomes greatly decreases. 

Additional signs of a bad, or ineffective, couples therapist or marriage counselor include:

  • An over-reliance of jargon, rather than personalized communication
  • Jumping to premature, general-type conclusions or making recommendations before hearing the whole story of each participant’s experiences
  • A lack of concrete, actionable information/perspectives
  • A lack of demonstrable progress or defined goals after multiple sessions

Ultimately, even the most highly-qualified and well-intentioned marriage counselor is going to struggle to make headway if one or more of the participants is unwilling or unable to participate constructively. To improve the chances of success, then, it’s also important that you’ve prepared your heart and mind for the difficult but important work of strengthening the relationship. 

How To Prepare for Couples Counseling

As with any type of therapy or counseling, what you bring to the process certainly impacts what you’ll get out of it. Even the best marriage counselor can’t help an individual (or couple) who is unwilling to open their heart and mind to be present and engage with the process. If even one partner closes off or becomes antagonistic, it can wreck the process (and even the marriage). So, how should you prepare for marriage counseling,  to maximize the time? Here’s a brief overview of what to know before going to couples therapy, so you can make the most of the opportunities it presents.

Get yourself mentally ready. It would be inappropriate for us to claim that marriage counseling is going to be a breeze. The truth is, an effective counselor is going to broach some difficult topics and ask some tough questions. Especially if you’ve never worked with a therapist or counselor before, this can be uncomfortable and intimidating. This is why it’s important to mentally prepare, not just for an individual session but for the overall, ongoing counseling experience as well. 

Sort out your thoughts and feelings. For many married couples who take the step to work with a marriage counselor, it can feel overwhelming to get your thoughts together. It’s also very normal for participants to think about their relationship outside the confines of their counseling sessions. To ensure that nothing too important slips through the cracks, a counselor might recommend personal journaling throughout the week, so you can come to the next session with specific things you want to ask or talk about, new insights or revelations, and so on.

Familiarize yourself with the counselor’s approach. As you start to learn more about your counselor’s general approach, you can better anticipate what to expect in future sessions. This should not only reduce anxiety, but help make the most of your time with the therapist or counselor as well.

Have realistic expectations. Nothing is necessarily guaranteed in this life, so while we want clients to be optimistic about counseling outcomes, we also know it’s best for you to expect growth and improvement, not an immediate, 180-degree turnaround. This is especially true for ongoing, persistent issues. It can be difficult work, but it can also be truly transformative. At Well Marriage Center, we’ve seen couples who thought all hope was lost find their way back to one another.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. All too often, marriage counseling participants feel like the counselor is the one who should be asking all the questions. This simply isn’t the case. While you obviously shouldn’t interrupt the counselor or disrupt the flow of the conversation with random questions that cross your mind, you should certainly ask any questions that might help you to better engage with and understand the counseling approach.

When your partner shares, keep an open mind/heart—and assume positive intent. Just as important as it is to begin the counseling process with an open mind, you should also make sure to assume the best possible intention(s) of your partner and counselor, too. This means, for example, taking your partner’s contributions at face value—assuming that they, like you, are there to put in the work and save the marriage.

What Makes Well Marriage Center’s Pro-Relationship  Counseling Work So Well?

At Well Marriage Center, we provide a strengths-based, pro-relationship approach to counseling. This means getting to know our clients and their relationships, exploring root issues, developing effective communication, and providing personalized counseling recommendations. 

It all begins with the understanding that no two couples are the same. That’s why our process builds its foundation on a relationship’s strengths and works to develop those strengths into better, healthier relationships. Here’s how our process works:

  • First, you’ll schedule an initial appointment with one of our counselors. Rather than asking vague questions like “What seems to be the problem today?”, we instead start with a structured assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses in the relationship. This, then, provides the foundation for further sessions, in which identified strengths can be further developed into the fabric of the relationship.
  • Next, our team will create a customized plan around your goals. Leveraging our experience working with over 12,000 couples, we focus on relationship science. Based on what’s working in the relationship—and what you want to improve—we’re uniquely trained to adjust and improve the course of counseling as needed.
  • Finally, we’ll work together to establish specific relationship objectives and develop an action plan. This might mean identifying and then working through how to interrupt toxic cycles a relationship might be stuck in, or remedy an uneven dynamic. Or, it might mean recapturing—and then maintaining—the relationship’s original spark. It could also mean digging deeply into specific traumas that might be impacting the quality of the relationship. 

If you’re ready to start the process of finding your way back to each other, the first step’s easy. You’ll simply need to fill out our short Intake Form, and then set up an appointment with Melinda, our Intake Coordinator. She’ll help to answer any questions you have and connect you with a therapist in your area who is available to work with you.  


 

What Percentage of Marriages Survive After Counseling?

If you’re struggling in your relationship, you might be considering marriage counseling—also known as couples therapy. But marriage counseling can be daunting to consider because of what you don’t know about the process. If you’re afraid of what marriage counseling might involve, you’re not alone.

Thankfully, as the nation’s largest couples specialty center, we have decades of studies and feedback from couples themselves. You might be relieved to know that a significant majority of couples say counseling is a good experience and offers a way to recover their marriages. Taking this major step with your partner is so successful, in fact, that your progress in repairing and rejuvenating your relationship is almost guaranteed if you put in the effort. We’ve seen it in the 15,000+ couples we’ve helped since we founded in 2008.

Well Marriage Center marriage counseling helps your relationship transition from a tense situation to a healthier, more productive partnership. In this blog, we’re going to talk about therapy statistics, marriage counseling and how we know it works. 

 

 

What Percentage of Marriages Work After Counseling?

According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the success rate of marriage counseling is around 70%. Another statistic from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists states 90% of couples who complete therapy with a highly trained couples therapist report an increase in their emotional well-being. Generally the results vary depending on the therapist, but between 70-90% of couples find couples therapy beneficial. Beyond that, approximately two-thirds report an improvement in their general physical well-being as well.

It’s important to note that with more sessions comes more success. While most counselors offer an average of 12 sessions as a standard therapeutic plan,  65.6% of the cases are completed within 20 sessions and and an additional 22.3% within 50 sessions. What this high marriage counseling success rate tells us is that, while marriage counseling takes work and dedication, it is highly effective for most couples. 

What’s also important to note is that not only are couples finding success with counseling, but 98% of partners find therapy a good or excellent experience. The value of counseling might be a large driving factor for couples struggling in their relationship to contact a professional. 

Simply put, marriage counseling works! Even though it can be difficult to confront challenges head on, the data overwhelmingly suggests that marriage counseling is beneficial for couples. Working with a professional and licensed therapist like ours at Well Marriage Center can help you reach your relationship goals and make positive progress. Our therapists have dedicated their entire careers to solely working with couples, plus we use science-backed methods and do not recommend separation or divorce.

 

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How Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Marriage counseling is a process for couples to focus on productive conversations. Couples give each other emotional support while having space to listen to concerns and challenges the other partner faces. A counselor should guide couples through in-depth conversations to ensure they are constructive in their discussions. In marriage counseling, you should expect:

  • An unbiased third-party listening to and understanding your conflicts. 
  • Finding and addressing systemic issues that affect one another.
  • Developing solutions to address areas of contention and implementing them at home.
  • Learning how to communicate with and listen to your partner in a safe setting.
  • Maintaining commitment, appreciation, and love for your partner during and after the process.

Ultimately, the first step in marriage counseling is deciding with your partner to meet with a counselor for mutual benefit. After that, you can find a wealth of resources to strengthen your relationship and develop healthy strategies during times of conflict. 

You might be concerned that your marriage is unsalvageable and therefore be hesitant about when to seek marriage counseling. But the success rate of couples therapy statistics indicate you have a high chance of saving your relationship.

How to Make Couples Therapy Successful

By reflecting on objectives you’ve set and putting steps into place to reach relationship goals, couples often find benefits from counseling. Successful marriage counseling is about learning to work on your challenges as a couple and as an individual, so you can gain insight on your relationship and yourself. 

Strive for greater success by: 

  • Having a good attitude toward change and willingness to be open.
  • Focusing on changing yourself and your own behaviors, not your partner’s.
  • Asking tough questions of yourself and your partner to expose challenges.
  • Communicating honestly and openly with your partner.
  • Regulating emotions to maintain a safe environment for your partner.

When you focus your efforts on you and your partner as a couple—rather than your own personal gain—marriage counseling offers a great outlet for you to communicate stronger and face challenges head on. Being willing and open as a partner gives you a greater outcome. 

 

How Long to Try Marriage Counseling Before Divorce?

On average at Well Marriage Center, couples attend 10-25 sessions for their marriage counseling, but find higher success the more sessions they have. Relationship expert Dr. Gottman explains that unhappy couples generally wait six years before seeking help from a marriage counselor. But once they get to marriage counseling, the time needed to work through challenges can sometimes take years. Of course, marriage counseling when you want a divorce is different for everyone, but couples should anticipate completing the minimum amount of sessions recommended by their counselor. You’ll have a chance to talk about timelines and goals in your first few sessions. 

Treat Your Marriage Well

At Well Marriage Center we’ve helped over 15,000 couples work through their challenges and also identify and amplify their strengths. If you’re considering counseling with your partner, we specialize in relationship science to actively adjust and improve your relationship. We want to support you as you navigate the counseling process and build a new future based on connection and trust. Reach out  today to see how we can help you and your partner.

We have offices in 22 cities across the United States, and additionally serve eight states virtually: Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and California. Reach out today!