Marriage Counseling - How Will It Work For You And Your Relationship?
Updated May 09, 2019
Reviewer Martha Furman, LPC, CAC
When married couples find themselves at an impasse in their marriage and are even contemplating separation and divorce, they often seek marriage or couples counseling, or counselling. This is a good decision and one that can provide answers and even solutions. The saying goes with any type of therapy, "You only get what you put into it." 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.
If you or your spouse is just going to therapy to make the other one happy, chances are pretty good that the therapy is not going to be successful in solving marital issues. There are many reasons that marriage counseling may not work for married couples. One of them is that clients often sabotage their own chances for success. Some 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?
When couples enter into marriage counseling, it is because there has been a breakdown somewhere in their communication and they have lost the ability to work through conflict and resolve their problems. Often, there are symptoms of the breakdown in communication that manifest in ways that are damaging to the marriage, in ways that may be irreparable. Two of the most prevalent problems couples face that bring them to marriage counseling are finances and infidelity.
Each of these are 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 effective communication skills. The hardest part about this is that the hurt, the stress, the anger, and the blaming all should be placed on the backburner while working with the counselor to learn, practice, and make good communication a habit. Otherwise, counseling will be just like any other argument held in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom. The only difference is the audience member who, unlike children or friends, can call an end to the disagreement when time is up.
If a couple goes to marriage counseling, there is no doubt and there should be no doubt that they truly wish to receive help and they really want to save their marriage or solve marital issues. The most frightening part is they do not know how, and at times, they question whether they really do want to remain in the marriage. This is normal. No one wants to remain in an unhappy situation. To leave or to relieve oneself of an unhappy situation is a normal reaction. However, to feel these thoughts is uncomfortable, and they cause the individual to feel guilt over having had them at all. This is where marriage counselors can help.
Does Marriage Counseling Really Work?
The decision to seek marriage counseling or counselling is a positive one. Most individuals will find themselves feeling nervous, and excited about the prospect of finally doing something to save the marriage before speaking with marriage counselors. This excitement can also lead to danger for often, individuals mistake these positive feelings as a sign that things are better. Sometimes, just 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.
This is a mistake. Do not fall for that. If you and your spouse made the difficult decision to go to marriage counseling, there must be a problem big enough to bring you there. Do not let that false feeling of happiness after the first session disillusion you into not going back and continuing to see marriage counselors. That is like when you quit taking your medication as soon as you feel 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 varies 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 per session and for such a serious issue, you will need 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 or all of that cost. 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.
Online Marriage Counseling
Because online marriage counseling can be done from anywhere, the costs are much more affordable than the 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 the transportation costs. Just like you, they can use their computer, laptop, tablet, or smart phone to provide your therapy. This savings for them means that you pay less, which makes marriage counseling even better!
How Does Marriage Counseling Online Work?
Seeing a marriage counselor online is simple. In fact, 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 you can do this from your own home, and have a variety of choices of marriage counselors still. If it makes it easier, you and your spouse do not even have to be in the same room.
As a matter of fact, you two do not even have to be in the same house! For example, if you are having serious marital issues such as infidelity, you and your spouse may be living in separate places for the moment. Being able to talk to a marriage counselor together but not being in the same room can make difficult conversations much more comfortable for everyone.
What Does an Online Marriage Counselor Do?
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 individual 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. Counselling is but an avenue and the therapist but a vehicle to convey the couple toward more positive communication so they can begin the work of mending, healing, and hopefully renewing their commitment to one another and the marriage. 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. That is up to you. One thing we do know and that is 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 cannot 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. Right now, the largest online mental health resource in the world, BetterHelp.com, is offering a free trial so you do not even have to worry about the cost to get started! You can try it today!
If you're still wondering if therapy is right for you, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out online at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest & Tumblr.
If you need a crisis hotline, please see below:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - 1-800-656-4673
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-7233
NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) - 1-800-950-6264