Between 40 percent and 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, but this rate is falling — perhaps due to the excellent marriage counseling services now available. More and more people are seeking the help of a third party before things break down. As a result of professional intervention, relationships are being rebuilt before the ‘D’ word is ever mentioned.
If your relationship has hit a rocky patch, confronting the issues now could transform your marriage — and save it from destruction in the future. If you need convincing, here are five very clear ways in which marriage counseling brings loving couples back from the brink.
1. Both parties get impartial advice
Most leading marriage counselors have dealt with a wide range of marital issues over the years. After giving you and your partner an opportunity to talk freely, your experienced counselor will work on ways to improve communication. But when talking alone isn’t enough, the best counseling professionals go one step further.
Using a combination of impartial reasoning and a vast wealth of experience, counselors provide various snippets of advice designed to improve relationships. They will offer practical tips on how to work on the problem areas of a marriage, but it will be up to the couple to put those tips into action at home. Because the advice is impartial and takes into account both points of view, it can be very valuable to couples.
2. A safe environment for honesty
In the confines of the home — often the battleground for a marriage — being truly honest about your feelings with your spouse isn’t always easy. Brutal honesty can cause serious pain, anger, and confrontation if it is not delivered in the right setting. This is one of the main reasons why people opt for marriage counseling; there is safety in numbers for honest discussion.
Counseling offers a safe environment in which no one is ever judged. Only by being honest with each other will you be able to move past your issues — but being frank about your innermost feelings isn’t always easy when it’s just the two of you.
3. An opportunity to unburden resentment and frustration
One of the main reasons marriages break down is because feelings of resentment, frustration, and anger are allowed to fester. These emotions are toxic to a relationship — eventually poisoning every aspect of it. Over time, these feelings often become more intense, until they eventually start to poison every aspect of your life together.
Leading relationship counselor John Gottman believes there are six relationship issues that predict divorce. After observing couples arguing in his lab, he defined one of those issues as “The Four Horsemen.” He used this term to describe the four issues that breed negativity and resentment. Gottman’s four horsemen are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling — all of which can be lethal to a marriage.
4. A forum to discuss infidelity and rebuild trust
Whether you’ve been unfaithful or you’ve come close, the merest suggestion of infidelity can singlehandedly destroy a marriage. The feelings of betrayal can grow as time passes, often to the point where trust becomes irrevocably damaged. Only by being brutally honest about these feelings can that trust be rebuilt.
Marriage counseling deals with infidelity head-on, without prejudice or judgment. The aim is to get past it, which is why counselors work to bring everything out into the open. Infidelity destroys trust in a relationship, and counseling explores a way to rebuild that trust — one step at a time.
5. Creating an attachment bond
Dr. Sue Johnson utilized more than 50 years of research into the way humans bond to develop a system of counseling known as Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. This approach is based on the assumption that couples bond over time, and connect in many different ways.
This innovative approach looks at ways to systematically take control of negative issues such as disconnection, conflict, and indifference. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is based on the principle that falling in and out of love doesn’t have to be a determining factor in a successful, long-term marriage.
If both parties in a marriage are open to the counseling process, almost any troubled relationship can be saved. But this is a process, and there are no quick fixes. Both parties must be prepared to work at things and to take professional advice and guidance where necessary.
To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.