Someone asked me recently if, by the time a couple seeks marriage counseling, is it already too late? Excellent question! Let me make 2 points in answering this question . . .
The Earlier The Better:
It is true that the earlier a couple comes, the less damage has been done. Most couples need some basic coaching on communication skills so that they can be understood and be able to understand their partner. Some couples need educated on their own issues so that they can understand why they have such extreme reactions to different things. It stands to reason, then, that the earlier a couple learns these valuable lessons, the less damage there will be to “clean up”, which gives the couple more of a chance at success.
The Key Factor For Success:
The ultimate key to determining whether a couple will “make it” or not is not dependent upon when they arrive on the couch. It is determined very simply by how “workable” each party is. A workable person is able to hear feedback and apply it to their life. This is not an easy process, in fact, it’s pretty ugly and incredibly painful to go through. It requires that you be able to see yourself as you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In order to do that, a person has to be able to break through the pain of their shame and/or abandonment and, quite frankly, it is too difficult for some people. Some of the factors that determine work-ability are as follows:
- Humility (willingness to be wrong sometimes)
- Self-Awareness (insight into your own behavior)
- Take Ownership for Your Own Behavior
- Empathy Towards Others
- Ability to Take Steps Towards Change
- Patience (with yourself, your partner, and the process)
Keep in mind that you don’t have to possess all of these traits walking in the door, the idea is to be continually improving in each of these areas. We pride ourselves in having counselors on staff that are not only able to teach their clients how to gain these skills, but are also growing and learning and living these principles in their own lives as well. If you are worried if it’s too late, it’s not, but it IS time to get started!