Does it feel like something’s missing in your marriage? Are you tired of fighting, or not speaking, with your spouse? If you’re considering separation or divorce, couples therapy services could be the saving grace for your marriage.
In the United States, couples counseling began in 1930s as marriage counseling, reserved for those who were married or engaged. Marriage counselors — who were usually clergymen, medical doctors, or social workers, rather than therapists — rarely saw partners together, and focused on educating rather than providing therapeutic insight.
Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, two things happened: divorce rates increased, and family therapy emerged. In family therapy, families were treated as a whole, and marriage therapy followed suit, to resemble modern day couples therapy: now both members of a pair attend therapy together.
And today, more and more couples are deciding to take charge of their relationships by attending couples therapy — with good reason. After working together with a marriage or family therapist, about 93% of respondents reported that they now had more effective tools to deal with their problems. Patients also said they experienced improved physical health and better functional ability at work after they attended therapy.
And according to research by the Chicago Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, about half of the couples that participated in Emotionally focused couples therapy recovered by the end of the therapy, and seven out of ten couples recovered within the following three months.
The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists found that over 98% of surveyed couples who attended couples therapy reported receiving good or excellent help from their therapist, and over 97% feel they received the help they needed.
A licensed marriage or family therapist could also save you 20-40%, when compared to a psychologist or psychiatrist. That means more money to spend on date nights to come!
Couples counseling is recommended for a number of different reasons. If your relationship is fraught with power struggles and communication failures, sexual dissatisfaction, or infidelity, you and your partner could benefit from couples therapy services.
The best thing you can do for your marriage when any problem or discontent arises is to address it immediately. Studies have shown that couples usually don’t seek help until they’ve been unhappy for around six years, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to save your marriage.
To be extra proactive, consider saving your marriage before it’s even begun! Premarital counseling can help couples hoping to marry soon explore conflicts and areas of concern that could cause trouble as the marriage progresses. Premarital couples therapy services can help uncover any differences in values, opinions, or expectations, and allow couples to enter a marriage with a strong foundation of understanding and respect.
No matter the reason for seeking therapy, effective communication is usually the focus of most couples therapy. Conflict avoidance and power struggles often give rise to communication failures, which build resentment and barriers to intimacy. Marriage therapists can help couples learn to individually regulate their emotions and employ healthy communication to resolve both new and old problems.
If you and your partner decide to seek couples therapy, expect to analyze the high and low points of your relationship to understand your conflicts. It may be difficult to discuss the problems in your relationship with a therapist — having a few mostly-silent sessions is not uncommon, and neither are all-out fights. Your therapist can be mediator or referee as needed, and help you both cope with the aftermath.
If you can’t convince your partner to come with you, solo marriage counseling is still an option. It’s much more challenging to heal a marriage with only half of it present, but there’s still plenty of benefit to be had; you’ll learn about your own behavior, reactions, and communication issues.
Remember that couples therapy services are usually fairly short term — it is by no means a lifetime commitment. A few sessions to a few months of sessions could be right for you.
Regardless, seeking a solution to your troubled marriage is bound to be more effective than ignoring the problems.