It’s a valid question. Does marriage counseling actually work? As a marriage counselor, you would expect my answer to be a resounding, “Yes!”, and to an extent it is, but I’m going to go with the safer answer . . “It depends.”
Marriage counseling is wonderfully successful for those couples where both parties are ready to grow as individuals. For those couples where one or both parties are intent on changing the other person, however, saving the marriage is going to be a bit of a challenge.
Jim Talley in his book Reconcilable Differences says he won’t even work with a couple until both parties are “stable”. A lot of our initial work is teaching people that they can be okay in or out of the relationship. When people come in for marriage counseling, they are usually so focused on making the marriage work, that they forget their own work as an individual. In order to be stable, we need to be able to be alone. We need to be in touch with our own needs and be able to get those needs met in a healthy way, with or without our partner. If we are too dependent upon our partner to get our needs met, our choices are limited to a) doing without or b) coercing our partner to meet our needs. That is a train wreck waiting to happen! I always tell people, “if not being in the relationship is not an option, then you will do whatever you have to do to keep the relationship” – including abandon yourself and your own needs. Then we blame our partner for abandoning us. Granted, this doesn’t sound like a comment from someone trying to save marriages, but quite frankly just getting marriages to stay together is not my goal. My goal is to teach people how to be healthy in a relationship so that it is stable and can last through the years.
I don’t want to help people learn how to just survive their marriage, I want them to learn how to thrive in their marriages!
So in answer to the question, marriage counseling works very well for those couples who can eventually shift their focus from getting their partner to change to understanding how they need to change themselves. In fact, for many people entering marriage counseling has been one of the greatest blessings in their lives simply because of the lessons they learned about themselves.
If you are ready to grow and learn things about yourself that will absolutely change your life, counseling is exactly what you need!
If you are sick of the way your partner is treating you, we can help. We may not be able to get your partner to change, but we can certainly help you change, so that you can have the life you want.
And if you are tired of your partner trying to change you, we can help you see what your partner is trying to show you and help you determine if a real change is needed.
Marriage counseling might just be the look in the mirror that can show you what you’ve been needing in your life!