It has been suggested on more than one occasion that it is often too late to save a marriage by the time couples decide to go to counseling. Whether or not that’s true, it’s not fair to brand all marriage counseling as a failure because so many couples still end up divorcing in the months following counseling sessions.
It turns out that the title of this post gets to the very root of why couples go through marriage counseling and still divorce. In simple terms, marriage counseling cannot fix a broken relationship. No form of counseling can. There is no book, video, or seminar that can solve marriage problems. Only married people can solve their problems. Only couples can fix their relationships. Marriage counseling is just a tool.
It is easy to blame counselors by saying they don’t know what they’re doing. It is equally easy to blame husbands and wives who waited too long to seek counseling. But no matter how you slice it, there are very definitive reasons marriage counseling can end up being an ineffective tool. Some of those reasons are discussed in the remainder of this post.
Symptoms Rather Than Causes
There are lots of different ways to approach marriage counseling. According to the counselors at Rye, NY‘s Relationships & More, trained therapists have access to a number of different theories and approaches. None of those theories or approaches will do any good if therapists only deal with symptoms.
All relationship troubles have root causes. Those root causes manifest themselves in symptoms. It is not enough for counselors to offer solutions to counteract the symptoms. Telling participants to participate in regular date nights and leave one another affirming messages written in Hallmark greeting cards won’t cut it.
To truly solve marriage problems, couples have to know the root causes. It is no different than treating a serious illness. If you don’t treat the root cause of the illness, the patient will never get better. Marriage counseling is no different.
Uncovering root causes and finding solutions is not a static exercise. Therefore, it is foolish to rely on one particular theory or approach for every case. Doing so equates to counseling with a closed mind. Any counselor who approaches a new case with such a mindset is increasing the chances of failure.
Likewise, closed minds among counseling participants hampers productivity. Husbands and wives who truly want counseling to succeed need to approach it with an open mind. They must be willing to admit that they are the main problem and only they can implement the solution. They need to be ready to do whatever their counselors suggest.
Giving up Too Soon
Finally, marriage counseling will not be an effective tool if either the counselor or the participants give up too soon. The truth of the matter is that marriages are not broken overnight. It generally takes years before married couples are at the point of breaking up. To expect counseling to fix things in just one or two sessions is both unrealistic and illogical.
If counseling is to be successful, husbands and wives need to be in it for the long haul. If their problems are relatively minor, 6 to 12 sessions may be enough. But if they are looking at years of deep-rooted problems, those problems could take as many years to fix.
When marriage counseling doesn’t work, it’s generally not due to the principle of counseling itself. It is due to the fact that counseling is not getting to the root causes, the participants have closed minds, and one or more parties gives up too soon.