by Ed Fisher
Does marriage counseling work? The short answer is NOT USUALLY. Only 8-10% of couples that try marriage counseling report any improvement in their relationship and a staggering 50% of couples that go to counseling get divorced – not much different than average. At $100-$200 per hour, marriage counselling seems like a waste of money, and if you are not careful it can actually DESTROY your marriage. But there are things you can do make sure that marriage counseling helps your marriage instead of hurting it…
As Lee Baucom points out in his excellent book Save The Marriage, (click here to read my Save The Marriage Review) the biggest problem is that most marriage counselors are not qualified to do the job. They have been trained for individual therapy which is very different from relationship therapy. They add marriage counseling to their regular practice as a way to drum up more business. The techniques that work so well in individual therapy (getting everything off of your chest, uncensored sharing of feelings etc.) will actually widen the gulf between you and your spouse. Does it sound like a good idea to tell your spouse everything that’s on your mind?!? Of course not. That’s how you hurt them, embarrass them, and make them resent you. And yet, that destructive “opening up” is exactly what most marriage counselors encourage! That’s why it’s vital that the counselor you choose has been trained SPECIFICALLY in marital therapy.
Your marriage is the most important relationship in your life. Everyone goes through periods when they don’t get along well with their spouse and the love doesn’t seem to be there. (I did! Read my own story on the front page of this blog!) Thankfully, it is within your power to turn things around and have the marriage you want. Seeking professional help (which is probably why you are thinking of marriage counseling) is the smartest thing you can do. But prepare yourself. You have to be able to tell if your marriage counselor is helping you or hurting you and the only way to do that is to be a bit of a relationship expert yourself – before you start your marriage counseling (and preferably before you even choose a marriage counselor.)
I recommend that you do what I did: read the book I mentioned earlier, Save The Marriage by Lee Baucom. Dr. Baucom is a very respected, successful marriage counselor and has sold over 63000 copies of his ebook over the internet to people like you. You can download it to your computer and read it in an afternoon.
I enthusiastically recommend it because it worked for me, and my wife Allison.
When you read it, you will be amazed at how Dr. Baucom seems to be writing about YOUR marriage. That’s because in all his years of marriage counseling, the same issues have come up again and again – and they apply to almost every couple. When I read Save The Marriage for the first time I instantly understood my relationship, and my wife, to a degree that I didn’t think was possible (and I knew right then I was going to share my experience on this blog!). It’s THAT powerful.CLICK HERE TO READ MY REVIEW OF SAVE THE MARRIAGE BY LEE BAUCOM, PhD. (opens in a new window).
After reading Save The Marriage, you may decide to follow Dr. Baucom’s steps to turn your marriage around on your own, or you may still want to go to counseling. If you go to marriage counseling, you will be PREPARED to make the most of it. You don’t want to waste many sessions (at $150 per hour) with the counselor teaching you stuff you should already know. Worse still, you won’t be able to tell if the counselor is helping or hurting your marriage until it’s too late.
If you want some solid advice, you can sign up to receive my FREE collection of fantastic marriage articles (most of which are written by Lee Baucom) The 6th email is all about what you need to know about marriage counseling. Sign up with the form at the bottom of this page. you’ll thank me like many people have. Or Click this link to read about the articles and why I give them away
If you are still reading, I might as well share my own experience with marriage counseling… which was not good. I found that the therapist was a nice enough lady and seemed to say the right things, but every so often she advised things that I KNEW were bad ideas that would undermine my relationship with my wife. How did I know? Because I had already become an expert by going though the programs I’ve mentioned.
We went to five sessions in all at $200 per session. What struck me is that I learned very little in those sessions except that we had a problem. We would do “airy-fairy” exercises as homework that, for the life of me, I could not see the value in. And then we would wait another whole week until our next session. Talk about slow progress!
My wife decided that she wanted to go to a session on her own to deal with her specific problems – mainly anxiety. I thought it was a great idea. But when she came back from the session, I knew something was wrong. The therapist had ignored all of our previous couples sessions, and what she should have known about our history, and basically said to my wife that I was making her mad. No kidding. I could just as easily say that my wife is the one making me mad! So my wife was withdrawn and resentful of me for days before she snapped out of it and realized that the therapist had made things a lot worse. we stopped seeing her after that and our marriage is all the better for it.
The bottom line is that if I hadn’t gone through the programs that I recommend on this site, I wouldn’t have known how to cope with that situation and I wouldn’t have been able to tell that our therapist was doing more harm than good. Educate yourself first!
Good Luck! – Ed