Marriage Counseling - How Will It Work For You And Your Relationship?

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Marriage is hard work. Even though you can be head over heels in love, the feelings of infatuation can begin to fade over time, and the ebbs and flows of life can start to 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.

Marriages Can Run Into Hurdles - Learn The Tools To Overcome Them

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 relationship problems. 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 private. If you're still on the fence as to whether or not marriage counseling is for you, it's good to keep in mind that, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 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 benefit clients when they 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 seek marriage counseling because they want to strengthen their relationship. There are also times when couples experience conflict and face challenges, such as infidelity, disagreements over how to raise their children, or constant arguing, that may lead them to seek marriage counseling.

Each of these examples is the result of poor communication or poor choices. Lack of respect for your partner 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 and give them advice on how to better connect. The hardest part about this is that the hurt feelings, 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 who, unlike children or friends, can call an end to the disagreement when time is up.

Does Marriage Counseling 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, they may begin to feel as if they do not need counseling after all. To help make marriage counseling work as well as it can, you’ll want to be honest about the negatives in your relationship.

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 illness is likely to 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 kind of therapist you see, and the number of sessions you’ll need. 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 in this location will likely be about $300 to $400, and for such a serious issue, you should consider at least eight or nine sessions.

Marriages Can Run Into Hurdles - Learn The Tools To Overcome Them

That means it will cost you between $2,400 and $3,600total. 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 considerable investment, 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! For any information on the costs of couples counseling, take a look at this medically reviewed article.

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 sit 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. Research shows that online therapy is a powerful tool for strengthening couples. In a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers found that online couples therapy improved relationship functioning and satisfaction, as well as individual functioning.

You may read the full study here: Marriage: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Web-Based OurRelationship Program: Effects on Relationship and Individual Functioning.

Types of Approaches and Models

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 receives treatment 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.

Therapeutic Model

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 psychotherapy.

Marriages Can Run Into Hurdles - Learn The Tools To Overcome Them

Pragmatic Approach

The pragmatic approach encourages couples to deal with their sources of conflict head-on, whether they stem from disagreements about the children, intimacy, communication, or anything else. This may include self-examination, finding trigger points, and remaining solution oriented as you work 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.

Gottman Method

Developed by John Gottman, the Gottman Method has been proven to be a very effective marriage counseling tool that has been successful for over 40 years. According to the Gottman Institute, 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 for each other
  • Building love maps

How Long Does Marriage Counseling Take?

There are no overnight solutions for what ails an unhappy marriage. Think of counseling as an avenue and the therapist as a vehicle to help move 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 end in divorce (in the US).

No matter what is going on in your marriage, counseling can be a benefit to your relationship. It may not fix the problem, but it can enable you to fix the problem. 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 marriage, 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:

Date Night

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. Engaging in conversation frequently can help you understand your partner and their needs.

Practice Gratitude

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.

For more information on how couples counseling can strengthen your marriage, check out this medically reviewed article.

Seeking Help

Online marriage counseling is easy for both partners, even those in long-distance relationships. It is also more convenient, more comfortable, and gives you more privacy. BetterHelp gives you four different ways to get the professional help you need with your marriage - chat, messaging, phone, and video. You can use whatever works with your schedule and your daily life. BetterHelp also has a specialized service for marriage counseling, Regain.us. This specialized marriage counseling also offers chat, messaging, phone, and video counseling sessions. BetterHelp and Regain.us have teams of licensed marriage and family therapists and other mental health professionals who are qualified to give you advice and help you work towards improving your marriage. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing a range of issues related to marriage.

Counselor Reviews

"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 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.

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