Does marriage counseling work? Many couples who try marriage counseling find that it has helped them resolve their conflicts and improve their relationships. It is beneficial to seek couple counseling when the issue is small and can be nipped in the bud.
When a couple is going through a difficult time or is having a strong difference of opinion, relationship counseling can help them handle the delicate situation in a practical and healthy manner.
The marriage counseling process can be short-term or long-term but it helps to fulfill the goals that the couple wanted to achieve when they decided to seek external help. Couples’ marriage counseling can really save a relationship.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr. Rima Mukherjee has been counseling couples for the last 20 years and she lists the 10 ways in which marriage counseling can help your marriage and relationship.
Can Couples Counseling Save A Relationship?
Couples counseling can really help in ironing out the creases that can trouble a relationship. When couples talk to a counselor together, they get a fresh perspective about their own relationship. A good counselor would make couples talk and discuss the issues, helping them understand each other’s viewpoints.
To test the water, you can try couples therapy sessions at home and see where they lead you. Of course, it’s best if these exercises are done upon the recommendation or under the supervision of a competent expert. Most people avoid going into therapy because they find the prospect of laying their heart bare to a stranger too daunting. Often, their perception is formed without truly understanding what therapy entails.
So, let’s attempt to change that by a broad overview of what to expect in couple’s therapy. A counselor usually starts by asking a number of questions that would include childhood history, your relationship history and all the reasons for which you decided on seeking therapy.
You have to answer the questions honestly. From there on, it’s largely about vocalizing the thoughts that you may have been hesitant to share with your spouse because you feel they may be offensive, politically incorrect or damaging to your relationship. At the same time, both partners have to keep an open mind and listen attentively when the other talks.
Be aware that couples therapy can help fix a broken marriage provided you are also willing to change. Often couples are resistant to change; that’s when the job of a counselor becomes more difficult.
The counselor would review your progress, give you homework but you have to be diligent in your efforts. So does couples counseling work? Well, there are some ways it can really change your relationship for the better.
10 Ways Marriage Counseling Will Help Couples
Dr Mukherjee gives us some important marriage counseling tips and tells us in clear terms when and how should a person avail of marriage counseling.
There could be issues in the marriage that they could be shoving under the carpet that can be addressed and resolved. Does marriage counseling work? Here are 10 ways it can:
Related Reading: 9 Proven Benefits Of Counseling – Don’t Suffer In Silence
1. Marriage counseling can help make adjustments
Today, many marriages collapse within a few months. This happens even when individuals choose their own life partners and live in nuclear set-ups. The simple tasks of planning like how to divide the household work may erupt into full-blown fights as the pre-marital fantasy does not look anything like reality.
Instead of keeping on arguing and fighting over issues that could be solved easily, it is best to meet a marriage counselor and sort out the teething problems.
2. Solve issues with in-laws
These are seen as common problems that everyone has and they’re expected to sort themselves out with time. Only, they don’t. Many marriages today break up in the first year due to issues with the in-laws. One common issue is interference in the new bride’s life (should she work/not work/her choice of clothing/lifestyle).
A girl’s parents may also be interfering, leaving the young couple frustrated and they could be taking their angst out on each other. Marriage counseling programs help in that case.
Another interesting observation has been that often when new husbands say or do something to the new wife, they sound like their mothers (always siding with her). The truth is, that after all the mother raised him and formed his thoughts for years, so this is bound to happen.
But the new wife is unable to accept it. Also, the man keeps expecting her to do all the things his mother did like cooking, keeping the home spic and span. What he doesn’t realize is that his mother could have been a homemaker and his wife a career woman.
If they can find a marriage counselor who can explain this to them as a neutral person, neither the young wife nor the husband is left feeling upset due to misunderstandings. The counselor can then help them resolve real issues.
3. Couples counseling helps in case of sexual incompatibility
The taboo around a discussion about sex leads to couples going silent on sexual problems for years. It is only when the pressure to have a child is unavoidable that these issues are finally recognized and addressed.
In this case, sexual problems can entail differences in sexual urges, erectile dysfunction, frigidity, pornographic addiction and others. The absence of sexual intimacy can leave either or both partners frustrated over time and make the relationship brittle.
Couples marriage counseling and visits to sexologists are hence a must. It will help the couple understand and sort out the problems and lead satisfying married lives.
Related Reading: 20 Premarital Counselling Questions You Should Ask Before Marriage
4. Counseling can dispel the impact of infidelity
A couple must definitely seek counseling if there has been an affair and they have decided to continue with the marriage and give it a second chance. Both the cheating partner and the one who has been cheated need to learn how to move on and help rebuild the lost trust in the marriage.
The partner who has been cheated upon also will need to learn how to move past the bitterness and hurt. Most importantly, the counselor will help the couple arrive at the reason why the marriage took a hit in the first place.
5. Family counselors help deal with parenting challenges
A surprisingly large number of young couples go through severe disturbance in their married life if their approach to parenthood is different.
For instance, one parent may feel that the child is lazy and just needs more tough love while the other parent may feel the child simply needs someone they can open up to. Marriage and relationships can be seriously affected by these different approaches to raising a child.
In such situations, both partners keep making serious parenting mistakes. They don’t know how to rectify it or deal with the challenges of bringing up a child in a highly technologically wired world. Such differences can lead to quarrels and the fights at home can affect both the child and the marriage. This is definitely a time one must seek counseling.
Related Reading: 12 Co-Parenting Rules For Divorced Couples
6. Addictions can be tackled
Any kind of addiction can seriously hurt a marriage. Alcohol/drugs lead to additional problems like financial problems at home, verbal abuse, violence, lying. Addiction counselling is vital at such a time. Addicted individuals respond better to their de-addiction programs when they’re supported with counseling.
Their partners benefit from marriage counseling, as it teaches them behaviors that support the de-addiction efforts of the addict and helps them cope with the stress. It can also be extremely beneficial in breaking patterns of codependency.
7. Internet addiction also needs to be addressed
Does marriage counseling work when a couple (both husband and wife) are sometimes so addicted to the virtual world that the family and marriage are neglected? Most definitely. In fact, this problem specifically requires counseling to help them see the state of their relationship that lies beyond your phone.
We all know gadgets can ruin relationships. The relationship doesn’t get the daily dose of nutrients in terms of moments and conversations together. Over time, the marriage weakens, paving room for a third person to come into the equation. Online friendships strengthen and casual chats often turn into deeper friendships and then to online or real affairs.
Couples who are so busy on WhatsApp or Facebook that they have nothing to say to each other definitely should consider marriage counseling. They could be on social media all the time and making some social media mistakes that could take a serious toll on the relationship.
8. Abuse needs immediate counseling
Any kind of abuse – physical, emotional, verbal or sexual – corrodes a relationship immediately. Counseling is advised at the earliest. No second thoughts.
Abuse isn’t just limited to domestic abuse or violence but can be of various kinds. There is emotional abuse and a gaslighting spouse can be finishing you off mentally and you may not even realize that.
There can be financial abuse where a partner is forced to give money or constantly heckled to earn more and meet the demands of a partner. Abusive partners rarely show signs of improvement without counseling. So marriage counseling is a must in case of any kind of abuse.
Related Reading: 20 Gaslighting Phrases In Relationships That Kill Love
9. Advice for chronic health issues
If one partner has a chronic or critical mental/physical condition, it affects the marriage. The couple must seek counseling so that the ill partner can move past the guilt to a more positive thought process.
The other partner can benefit from couples marriage counseling and move past any feelings of resentment in marriage for carrying the extra load. Chronic physical or mental illnesses play havoc with the marriage. In a situation like this, people must seek counseling.
10. Divorce gracefully through marriage counselling
Once a couple has decided to part ways, counseling is advised so that they can uncouple gracefully and make divorce less unpleasant and start the new chapter of their lives on a more positive note.
Sometimes a trial separation is advised but most often marriage counseling helps in dealing with the extreme pain, anger and resentment that people feel when they go through a divorce.
Marriage counseling is affordable these days and some psychologists have saved marriages and made divorces less messy. So if you’re still wondering, “Does marriage counseling work?” Yes, it does. It can do your marriage and relationship a world of good.
Dr. Rima Mukherji MBBS, DPM, MRCPsych (London)
She has been making a difference in the lives of so many couples through marriage counselling. After gaining 7 years of experience in the UK, Dr Mukherji set up the renowned Crystal Minds, a mental wellness centre (with a multidisciplinary team offering a wide range of psychiatric and psychological services for all age groups) in Kolkata. Over the past 20 years, she has won several laurels for her fierce passion for her work. Her vision for a safe society is geared towards living without the fear of stigma, experiencing awareness and promoting positive mental health through marriage counselling programmes.
Currently, couples counseling has a success rate of roughly 70%, according to a study done by OpenCounseling.
On the contrary, in fact, marriage counseling strengthens the bond in a relationship by resolving past conflicts and other day-to-day issues between a couple.
No, it is not the counselor’s place to tell a couple what they should or shouldn’t do. But if the couple is not compatible at all anymore, an expert can help them see that, helping them arrive at the decision of getting a divorce.