Every year, thousands of couples go into counseling in an effort to save their marriage. In some cases, strategies employed in counseling, such as listening and communication, will help couples in the short term, but in some other cases they will just be insufficient. It is also possible that in some other cases counselors lack skills and knowledge in working with couples who have serious problems in their marriage. Unable to understand the reasons of conflict and inability to move to resolution, will force counselors to either let the partners take turns talking week after week, with no end to the therapy, or to slowly lead them to divorce.
Although marriage counseling has proven to be effective for many couples, there are times when marriage counseling may not be the best option. Marriage counseling is not recommended for couples struggling with domestic violence or for those who are already “checked out” of the relationship. Couples struggling with active domestic violence are often recommended individual therapy prior to engaging in couples therapy in order to protect the safety of both individuals.

If one or both partners has “checked” out of the relationship, it is likely that marriage counseling will not be effective. It is important that both partners are on the same page and committed to making positive changes in their marriage or relationship in order to see positive results.

Couples going through major problems and don’t get along fine, believe that marriage counseling is the way to go. While it’s not a bad idea to try marriage counseling, there are sometimes where it just won’t work.

Marriage counseling is not working for us:
People think that by just attending counseling, they will fix their marriage. Sessions will not magically fix your problems and will not erase your past. Counseling will not magically bring you closer to your partner. Marriage counseling is just a tool that will help you better understand the role you and your partner play in the relationship. Furthermore, there are more reasons why marriage counseling will not work and it’s easy to do the mistake that will cost your marriage.

1. Sessions are not doing the work for you. Marriage counseling is not going to magically erase the past or fix any problems for you. Marriage counseling will provide you the tool to help you communicate better, but you and your partner have to put in the work between sessions. Keep in mind that changes take time and practice, and you need to invest in trying new stuff you get from sessions and be willing to make the effort.

2. Individual therapy is the way to go first. Sometimes individual problems may be too serious that they affect the couple’s relationship. There are cases where a partner’s mental disorder is causing frustration in the marriage, while in other cases trust issues from both partners shake the relationship. Whatever the case, there are times like these where individual therapy should be the first step.

3. You haven’t found the right marriage counselor. It is very likely that during the first try seeking for a counselor, the professional will not be a perfect fit for you and your partner. The marriage counselor that fits your needs, should make you both feel comfortable, feel seen and heard, and will assist you as per your needs. If your counselor is not meeting your needs, then it’s Ok to find someone else.

4. You are only there to speak your side of the story. Marriage counseling should provide a safe space for both partners to express their thoughts and feelings. Partners should understand that it is important for marriage counseling, to take turns in expressing their thoughts. If a person is not there to listen to their partner’s thoughts, needs, feelings and concerns, then they may not find a way to help their relationship. Both partners need to be willing to listen and understand each other. Finally, understand that a counselor will not take anyone’s side, so you are not there to prove a point or win the case.

5.  The purpose is not changing your partner the way you want. In many cases, people enter marriage counseling because they feel that it will change their partner. In marriage counseling you can only control yourself. Neither you nor a professional can force your partner into change. Instead investing in counseling to change your partner, invest by acknowledging your behaviors in the relationship and pursue how you want to change in favor of your marriage.

6. Partners get into counseling with different agendas. Marriage counseling will definitely not work when partners have different agendas. For example, if one partner is more committed in working more than the other, then counseling is not going to work. If any of the partners is not completely honest, it’s not going to work either. If one partner commits to counseling just to lead it to divorce, then it is destined to fail. To make things work, both partners need to engage counseling with the mind that this process requires equal commitment and effort from both sides to succeed.

7. There is emptiness between the two of you. When there are no emotions left, it is hard for any professional to revive the passion. Sometimes when there is no love left, partners need to take the hard decision and each one must take a different path. Only then, healing will be achieved, and redemption will be succeeded. Every situation is different, so it is important to do whatever suits your situation. Here you can have a look at more issues that affect marriage counseling:
Abusive Marriage. Marriage takes time and effort to work. But if one partner is abusive, marriage counseling is not the effort needed to make. Therefore, don’t waste your time, and seek help from your loved ones in exiting your marriage.
Substance Abuse. Addiction can have physical and psychological effects on individuals but can also have devastating effects on marriage. The partner who suffers from an addiction often denies being the problem in the relationship. Substance abuse puts a lot of pressure on the marriage and often leads to distancing and isolation. Furthermore, substance abuse will definitely lead to financial issues, which in turn will add more strain on the marriage.

No trust. Trust is fundamental to all relationships, especially marriage. If the trust is broken in a marriage, the relationship will also break. Sometimes trust can be repaired, but most of the times it requires both persons. For example, one person has to be willing to take responsibility and the other person has to be willing to forgive.
Bad habits. Persons that display problematic behaviors in their marriage, such as contempt and disrespect can cause resentment and anger in both sides. Those who change these habits and employ healthy communication and understanding will fix their marriage. Couples who won’t, will see their marriage end in divorce.

The bad memories are more than happy memories. Happily married couples display their happiest moments around their home. On their anniversaries, partners reminisce about all the good times they have had together over the years. Partners who remember more bad stuff than happy times, will fall apart.

Mistakes marriage counselors do:
1. Lack of Structure: The most common mistake made by counselors is providing too little structure. There are counselors that let sessions generate a lot of negativity and lead to zero change. Partners usually interrupt each other and talk over each other, while the counselor just loses control. Finally, the counselor loses hope and ends counseling, while partners lose hope in turn.

2. No Plan for Change. Counselors may play safe by not recommending changes in the couple’s day to day life. Good counselors will give out homework while a bad counselor doesn’t pursue change.

3. Thinking All Couples Are Equal. Counselors who believe that all couples are equal and don’t meet their needs, are doomed to fail. It is a fact that all couples are different. For example, married couples with children have different dynamics than married couples without children. Inexperienced counselors will usually apply the same or similar treatment plan to all clients. Failure to meet a couple’s needs, will lead counseling to fail.

4. Making things complicated. A marriage counselor who fails to explain things in a simple way, will make the relationship seem more difficult than it really is.

5. Choosing sides during marriage counseling. Resolving issues and healing a wounded marriage requires objectivity on the part of the counselor. Good marriage counselors understand that unconditional positive regard for both partners is of the utmost importance. Bad counselors will take sides and will favor one partner over the other during counseling which can be destructive on the marriage.
Does that mean that marriage counseling fails all the time?
Issues can be worked out through counseling, especially if you feel like you have the same arguments over and over again, or you feel isolated, or if sex and intimacy are just not there anymore. But, it also won’t work if one or both partners are not genuinely committed in the counseling process. Healing the wounds of your marriage and improving the relationship is a slow process, but it doesn’t have to go on forever. Marriage counseling is a healthy way to work through problems in your marriage, but you need to truly want to be part of it. If you are not seeing your marriage in any of the above situations, then with hard work and commitment, there is hope.

Every year, thousands of couples go into counseling in an effort to save their marriage. In some cases, strategies employed in counseling, such as listening and communication, will help couples in the short term, but in some other cases they will just be insufficient. It is also possible that in some other cases counselors lack skills and knowledge in working with couples who have serious problems in their marriage. Unable to understand the reasons of conflict and inability to move to resolution, will force counselors to either let the partners take turns talking week after week, with no end to the therapy, or to slowly lead them to divorce. 

Although marriage counseling has proven to be effective for many couples, there are times when marriage counseling may not be the best option. Marriage counseling is not recommended for couples struggling with domestic violence or for those who are already “checked out” of the relationship. Couples struggling with active domestic violence are often recommended individual therapy prior to engaging in couples therapy in order to protect the safety of both individuals. 

If one or both partners has “checked” out of the relationship, it is likely that marriage counseling will not be effective. It is important that both partners are on the same page and committed to making positive changes in their marriage or relationship in order to see positive results.

Couples going through major problems and don’t get along fine, believe that marriage counseling is the way to go. While it’s not a bad idea to try marriage counseling, there are sometimes where it just won’t work. 

Marriage counseling is not working for us:

People think that by just attending counseling, they will fix their marriage. Sessions will not magically fix your problems and will not erase your past. Counseling will not magically bring you closer to your partner. Marriage counseling is just a tool that will help you better understand the role you and your partner play in the relationship. Furthermore, there are more reasons why marriage counseling will not work and it’s easy to do the mistake that will cost your marriage. 

1. Sessions are not doing the work for you. Marriage counseling is not going to magically erase the past or fix any problems for you. Marriage counseling will provide you the tool to help you communicate better, but you and your partner have to put in the work between sessions. Keep in mind that changes take time and practice, and you need to invest in trying new stuff you get from sessions and be willing to make the effort. 

2. Individual therapy is the way to go first. Sometimes individual problems may be too serious that they affect the couple’s relationship. There are cases where a partner’s mental disorder is causing frustration in the marriage, while in other cases trust issues from both partners shake the relationship. Whatever the case, there are times like these where individual therapy should be the first step. 

3. You haven’t found the right marriage counselor. It is very likely that during the first try seeking for a counselor, the professional will not be a perfect fit for you and your partner. The marriage counselor that fits your needs, should make you both feel comfortable, feel seen and heard, and will assist you as per your needs. If your counselor is not meeting your needs, then it’s Ok to find someone else. 

4. You are only there to speak your side of the story. Marriage counseling should provide a safe space for both partners to express their thoughts and feelings. Partners should understand that it is important for marriage counseling, to take turns in expressing their thoughts. If a person is not there to listen to their partner’s thoughts, needs, feelings and concerns, then they may not find a way to help their relationship. Both partners need to be willing to listen and understand each other. Finally, understand that a counselor will not take anyone’s side, so you are not there to prove a point or win the case.

5.  The purpose is not changing your partner the way you want. In many cases, people enter marriage counseling because they feel that it will change their partner. In marriage counseling you can only control yourself. Neither you nor a professional can force your partner into change. Instead investing in counseling to change your partner, invest by acknowledging your behaviors in the relationship and pursue how you want to change in favor of your marriage. 

6. Partners get into counseling with different agendas. Marriage counseling will definitely not work when partners have different agendas. For example, if one partner is more committed in working more than the other, then counseling is not going to work. If any of the partners is not completely honest, it’s not going to work either. If one partner commits to counseling just to lead it to divorce, then it is destined to fail. To make things work, both partners need to engage counseling with the mind that this process requires equal commitment and effort from both sides to succeed. 

7. There is emptiness between the two of you. When there are no emotions left, it is hard for any professional to revive the passion. Sometimes when there is no love left, partners need to take the hard decision and each one must take a different path. Only then, healing will be achieved, and redemption will be succeeded. Every situation is different, so it is important to do whatever suits your situation. Here you can have a look at more issues that affect marriage counseling:

Abusive Marriage. Marriage takes time and effort to work. But if one partner is abusive, marriage counseling is not the effort needed to make. Therefore, don’t waste your time, and seek help from your loved ones in exiting your marriage.

Substance Abuse. Addiction can have physical and psychological effects on individuals but can also have devastating effects on marriage. The partner who suffers from an addiction often denies being the problem in the relationship. Substance abuse puts a lot of pressure on the marriage and often leads to distancing and isolation. Furthermore, substance abuse will definitely lead to financial issues, which in turn will add more strain on the marriage. 

No trust. Trust is fundamental to all relationships, especially marriage. If the trust is broken in a marriage, the relationship will also break. Sometimes trust can be repaired, but most of the times it requires both persons. For example, one person has to be willing to take responsibility and the other person has to be willing to forgive. 

Bad habits. Persons that display problematic behaviors in their marriage, such as contempt and disrespect can cause resentment and anger in both sides. Those who change these habits and employ healthy communication and understanding will fix their marriage. Couples who won’t, will see their marriage end in divorce. 

The bad memories are more than happy memories. Happily married couples display their happiest moments around their home. On their anniversaries, partners reminisce about all the good times they have had together over the years. Partners who remember more bad stuff than happy times, will fall apart. 

Mistakes marriage counselors do:

1. Lack of Structure: The most common mistake made by counselors is providing too little structure. There are counselors that let sessions generate a lot of negativity and lead to zero change. Partners usually interrupt each other and talk over each other, while the counselor just loses control. Finally, the counselor loses hope and ends counseling, while partners lose hope in turn. 

2. No Plan for Change. Counselors may play safe by not recommending changes in the couple’s day to day life. Good counselors will give out homework while a bad counselor doesn’t pursue change. 

3. Thinking All Couples Are Equal. Counselors who believe that all couples are equal and don’t meet their needs, are doomed to fail. It is a fact that all couples are different. For example, married couples with children have different dynamics than married couples without children. Inexperienced counselors will usually apply the same or similar treatment plan to all clients. Failure to meet a couple’s needs, will lead counseling to fail.

4. Making things complicated. A marriage counselor who fails to explain things in a simple way, will make the relationship seem more difficult than it really is. 

5. Choosing sides during marriage counseling. Resolving issues and healing a wounded marriage requires objectivity on the part of the counselor. Good marriage counselors understand that unconditional positive regard for both partners is of the utmost importance. Bad counselors will take sides and will favor one partner over the other during counseling which can be destructive on the marriage. 

Does that mean that marriage counseling fails all the time?

Issues can be worked out through counseling, especially if you feel like you have the same arguments over and over again, or you feel isolated, or if sex and intimacy are just not there anymore. But, it also won’t work if one or both partners are not genuinely committed in the counseling process. Healing the wounds of your marriage and improving the relationship is a slow process, but it doesn’t have to go on forever. Marriage counseling is a healthy way to work through problems in your marriage, but you need to truly want to be part of it. If you are not seeing your marriage in any of the above situations, then with hard work and commitment, there is hope.

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