Marriage Counseling - How Will It Work For You And Your Relationship?
Updated November 18, 2019
Reviewer Martha Furman, LPC, CAC
Marriage is hard work. Even though you can be head over heels in love, over time, the feelings of infatuation begin to fade, and the ebbs and flows of life affect your relationship. If you think your marriage could be better or if you find yourself locking horns with your spouse, you may want to consider marriage counseling.
Marriage Counseling Works At Any Stage In Your Relationship
Often when married couples begin having relationship trouble, it's the result of a lapse in their communication. However, marriage counseling can help give you the tools needed to improve both your communication and your relationship, regardless of what relationship stage you're in. Couples can get help with marriage counseling, whether they are merely wanting to improve their relationship or if there are long-standing issues they have yet to resolve.
Many couples use marriage counseling as a means of figuring out how to resolve problems in their relationship. However, one concern is about other people knowing they are struggling as a couple. This is why online marriage counseling is an excellent alternative to traditional counseling--it's both convenient and confidential. If you're still on the fence as to whether or not marriage counseling is for you, it's important to note that over 97% of couples that sought help got the kind of help they desired.
The saying, "You only get what you put into it", goes with any type of therapy. This is especially so with marriage counseling. When couples choose therapy, this is a good sign that they value their marriage and wish to preserve it. However, couples counseling can only work if clients enter a therapeutic alliance with not only the counselor but also one another. Here are a few things to bear in mind when considering marriage or couples counseling:
- The therapist or marriage counselor cannot fix you.
- The therapist or marriage counselor cannot provide a diagnosis.
- Marriage counseling is not mental health therapy.
- The therapist or counselor is not a referee.
- The therapist or counselor does not take sides.
- Counseling does not rewrite the past.
- Counseling does not right wrongs.
Why Do Couples Choose Marriage Counseling?
Most couples choose marriage counseling because they want to strengthen their relationship. There are times when couples are facing challenges, such as infidelity or constant arguing, that may lead them to seek counseling as well.
Each of these examples is the result of poor communication or poor choices. Lack of respect and refusal to take responsibility for your actions are also common. Coming to marriage counseling expecting the marriage counselor to help repair damage caused by infidelity is unrealistic. This is not going to occur any more so than marriage counselors finding a miraculous way to pay off incurred debt.
The only way to get past the hurt of infidelity or the stress of indebtedness is through communication. A licensed therapist can teach couples strong communication skills. The hardest part about this is that the hurt, stress, anger, and blame should all be placed on the back burner while working with the counselor to learn, practice, and make excellent communication a habit. Otherwise, counseling will be just like any other argument held at home. The only difference is the audience member who, unlike children or friends, can call an end to the disagreement when time is up.
Does Marriage Counseling Really Work?
The decision to seek marriage counseling is a positive one. Most individuals will find themselves feeling nervous and excited about the prospect of finally doing something to strengthen the marriage before speaking with marriage counselors. This excitement can also lead to danger, as some individuals mistake these positive feelings as a sign that things are better. Sometimes, the decision to see a counselor lifts such a burden from the couple's shoulders, that they may begin to feel as if they do not need counseling after all.
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. If you and your spouse made the difficult decision to go to marriage counseling, there must be a problem significant enough to bring you there. Do not let that false feeling of happiness after the first session trick you into not going back and continuing to see marriage counselors. To put that into perspective, imagine that you quit taking your medication as soon as you felt better, even if you only took one pill. The feeling will not last, and the sickness will come right back, sometimes worse than before.
How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?
The costs for marriage and couples counseling vary greatly depending on the area you live in, the therapist's qualifications, and the amount of time you need to put into the sessions. For example, in a big city like New York, you may see a licensed psychiatrist for marriage counseling for an infidelity issue. The cost per session will likely be about $300 to $400, and for such a serious issue, you should consider at least eight or nine sessions.
That means it will cost you between $2,400 and $3,600. Your insurance may or may not cover some of the costs, if any. However, as marriage counseling becomes more popular, more insurance companies are choosing to cover at least part of the cost. Yes, it is still a great deal of money, but there is another option. Online marriage counseling is much more affordable.
Because online marriage counseling can be done from anywhere, the costs are much more affordable than traditional face-to-face marriage counseling. The therapist or counselor saves money because they do not have to pay for the cost of purchasing or renting an office, paying the staff, the costs of utilities and upkeep, and transportation. Just like you, they can use their computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to provide convenient therapy sessions. These savings mean that you pay less, which makes marriage counseling even better!
How Does Marriage Counseling Online Work?
Seeing a marriage counselor online is simple. It is much easier than having to get dressed and drive to an office, wait for your appointment time, and sitting in the therapist's office while you talk about your problems. With online marriage counseling, you can use Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facetime to chat with your therapist so that you can do it from your own home, and still have a variety of choices of available marriage counselors. If it makes things easier, you and your spouse do not even have to be in the same room.
There are several different approaches and models of marriage counseling. Some of these include the Adlerian or individual approach, therapeutic model, pragmatic approach, and group therapy.
Adlerian or Individual Approach
This model was devised many years ago by Alfred Adler, who was a pioneer in individual therapy. He believed that each person has to be treated individually as a whole. With this approach, each person is treated separately as an individual to deal with their own needs first. Then, the therapist will see both of you together to work on the relationship.
With the therapeutic marriage counseling model, the counselor will treat the marriage like a mental health issue. The couple will work with the counselor to figure out what is wrong with the marriage and how it can be fixed. This may mean working on communication issues, practicing trust exercises, or just psychotherapy.
The pragmatic approach encourages couples to deal with their sources of conflict head-on. This may include self-examination, finding trigger points, and working on solutions to resolve conflicts effectively. They will learn how to stop the blame game and how it feels to be in the other person's shoes.
The Gottman Method has been proven to be a very effective marriage counseling tool that has been successful for over 40 years. Some of the steps to this method include:
- Learning to believe in commitment
- Building your trust
- Sharing dreams and visions
- Talking about hopes, values, and aspirations
- Managing rather than fixing conflicts
- Positive perspectives
- Stating your needs
- Sharing your fondness and admiration in each other
- Building love maps
How Long Does Marriage Counseling Take?
There are no overnight cures for what ails an unhappy marriage. Think of counseling as an avenue and the therapist as a vehicle to convey the couple toward more positive communication so they can begin the work of mending, healing, and renewing their commitment to one another. The good thing about online marriage counseling is that you can split your sessions up into the times that make sense for you and your spouse. You can do a bunch of short sessions or several long sessions - it's completely up to you. One thing we do know is that without counseling, 40% to 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.
No matter what is going on in your marriage, counseling can help, but not for all couples in all circumstances. It may not fix the problem, but that is your job. Like the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Marriage counselors can give you the tools to work on your problems, but you and your spouse have to be ready to use them.
Other Ways To Improve Your Marriage
If you're still not decided on marriage counseling, you may want to take other efforts at repairing your marriage. Here are some ways you can improve your marriage without counseling:
Once you get married, it can be easy for romance to fall to the wayside. Make it a habit to go on a date night (weekly, monthly, or however your schedule permits) and continue to communicate with each other, keeping the romance alive.
Communicate With Each Other
Focusing on your communication can help resolve any lapses you are experiencing. Talk with your partner and let them know what you want and need, while also actively listening to them when they talk to you.
Find things to be thankful for that are connected to your spouse regularly and let them know. A simple thank you with a smile and recognition for something they have done for you can go a long way in improving your relationship.
Focus on the Little Things
Living day in and day out with someone can lead us to overlook the little things. Focus on doing the little things for your partner that makes them feel loved--hold their hand, leave them a note telling them you love them, greet them with a smile whenever you see them after you've been apart, etc.
Online marriage counseling is easily accessible from both partners, even if it is a long-distance relationship. It is also more convenient, more comfortable, and gives you more privacy. BetterHelp gives you four different ways to get the marriage counseling you need - chat, messaging, phone, and video. You can use whatever works with your schedule and your comfort. BetterHelp also has a specialized service for marriage counseling, Regain.us. This specialized marriage counseling also offers chat, messaging, phone, and video counseling sessions. All of the counselors at BetterHelp and Regain.us are licensed and certified and are qualified to help you work towards improving your marriage. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing a range of issues related to marriage.
"This is my first time using an online counseling platform, and I couldn't be happier. The interactions with Theresa have been positive and profoundly useful. Since I started using this platform, my husband and I have signed up for online marriage counseling, which is going very well. I will never again have a need to miss work to attend an in-office meeting with my counselor."
"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful, but, most of all, helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks, Steph!"
Strengthening Your Marriage
Marriage counseling is designed to give you the tools to overcome the challenges you will face as a couple. Every married couple should learn these tools to have a successful marriage. A lasting, fulfilling partnership is possible - all you need are the right tools. Take the first step today.