Does Marriage Counselling Work?
One question we are often asked is “Does marriage counselling work?” Our relationships therapists answer is a resounding yes! If, as a couple, you REALLY want it to and you are willing to put in the time and effort to make it things work. Despite how angry, hurt or resentful you might be feeling towards each other right now.
Couples also often report to feeling that the idea of marriage counselling to be quite daunting. However, rest assured, once you get passed the initial hesitance, the benefits can be immense.
When you think about it. If our physical health is called into question, we instantly seek out the helping hand of our local GP. Then why do so many of us fear professional help when our relationships need a bit of tender loving care? The were 101,669 divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales in 2017, why aren’t more couples seeking help? (source https://www.ons.gov.uk)
Why do people fear marriage counselling?
Sian Jones, founder of Online Couples Counselling explains. “We regularly encounter people’s reluctance to ask for help. Couples often claim that they feel ‘silly’ or think that they should be able to sort out their own problems” “There is nothing silly or weak about asking for help when it comes to your relationship. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It takes great courage to admit you are struggling to sort out the issues on your own”
“For some people, starting online relationship counselling can be a scary thought. However, in our experience, people often find it more difficult to start couple counselling than individual therapy. Your partner sat in the opposite chair ready to disagree and possibly rubbish your opinions can leave you feeling particularly vulnerable. Furthermore, the ‘laying bare’ your soul, especially in front of someone else can add to the reticence”
Sian continues “Additionally, the worry that the truth might hurt, upset or anger you partner and potentially make a bad situation worse, increases the fear. When the counselling comes to an end and couples are asked to look back over the therapy. They often say, that although they were aware that our couple counsellors are trained to be impartial, they feared we would side with their partner”
In heterosexual relationships, our analysis shows a pattern of females seeking help for their relationship, before their male partners. Sian suggests that around 80% of the initial contacts is made by women. Feedback from some male clients is that they were afraid of what is involved and sceptical about its success. Interestingly however, it’s often men who report the most benefit from seeing a couple counsellor.
The benefits of marriage counselling
Early intervention is vital. Because in our experience, if couples don’t resolve the ‘smaller’ day to day issues. They just to grow bigger and resentment begins to builds, sometimes resulting in the relationship needlessly breaking down.
We understand, that the biggest reason couples avoid couple counselling is because they don’t know what is involved. Sian explains “It’s our job to help couples talk about their frustrations within the relationship and help them really understand the other’s perspective. Having someone else really listen to your point of view, is extremely powerful. Often the biggest issues couples face is poor or lack of communication.”
If you can get over the fear entering in to relationship counselling the rewards are often immense. In many cases, couples get an immediate short-term boost and a surge of positivity. This is partly down to a sense of relief that something is finally being done but mainly because our partner agreeing to seek professional help is concrete proof that he or she still cares.
We don’t need relationship counselling ……do we?
People often ask how a couple can tell if marriage counselling would be of benefit to them. Although there’s no simple answer, it appears that couples get a sense of being ‘stuck’. Meaning the same arguments or discussions keep happening over and over again. Perhaps because something has happened which caused great upset but it wasn’t discussed to a satisfactory level by one or both of you. If an understanding hasn’t been reached – peace of mind will never be found. This can lead to resentment growing to such a level that you feel unable or unwilling to put it behind you. Perhaps your partner refuses to talk about it let alone understand your point of view.
Maybe you and your partner are disagreeing about the slightest of things but these rows quickly escalate into something nasty. Or perhaps your relationship feels stale and if you didn’t lead busy, separate lives you feel you would die of boredom. Sometimes there are issues, such as money, sex, infidelity, in-laws or children. In general, poor communication is a major factor in relationship issues.
How does it work?
Once your first session has begun, it will soon become clear that a couple counsellor’s responsibility is to your relationship and to you both. You will each get equal time, attention and understanding. The sense of having someone else listen to your point of view whilst helping your partner to do the same is extremely powerful. It helps rebuild lost confidence and enables clarity of the situation from both perspectives. Couples tell us that the experience of being counselled together brought them closer than they had ever been before.
It is down to each individual couple to set out what they would like to achieve through counselling, if they know. Sometimes they don’t, but that isn’t a problem, we will work with that. It’s important to note that relationship counselling isn’t just about trying to keep couples together, it’s also about helping people separate more amicably if one or both feels the relationship has run it’s course. Openness and honesty from both parties is a must in order for the counselling to be effective.
Our experience at Online Couples Counselling has shown; if couples have been able to work together in order to set up a home and perhaps raise a family, they will soon begin to support each other through the necessary changes to their relationship. For this reason, couple counselling often needs fewer sessions than individual counselling. It’s clear that relationship counselling is neither a quick fix nor a guaranteed one. But compared to the emotional, not to mention the financial cost of divorce, it has to be worth the chance.
If you would like to make an appointment to find out if marriage counselling does work, then contact us at Online Couples Counselling today. Request an appointment