When Is Marriage Counseling Necessary?
Couples usually try to resolve their issues themselves and sometimes seek the help of their
friends, family, and church. Often they wait too long or make decisions on the basis of bad
advice. Counseling requires courage and does not reflect inadequacy. Simply put, any
married couple can benefit from marriage counseling. Ideally, it is better to develop the skills
and understanding before significant problems arise. When trouble surfaces, the sooner it can
be addressed the better.
Why Do Marriages Fail?
There are many reasons people give including money conflicts, personality incompatibility,
sexual problems, pressure from parents, infidelity, substance abuse, etc. Most frequently, we
see the accrual of negative experiences and hurts. This results over time in a decline in
marriage satisfaction, trust, respect, appreciation, and love feelings. Hurts and anger lead to
escalations or withdrawal that are not resolved. Vicious cycles develop leading to a corrosion
of the marriage foundation. People start to feel numb toward one another. The wounding
tends to accelerate over time leading to hopelessness. Stopping such a vicious cycle requires
The Goals of Marriage Counseling
- To recognize God’s use of the marriage relationship to create growth in us as
- To recognize and change vicious cycles and patterns
- To identify patterns that may be related to family of origin issues
- To give couples tools to use at home so that therapy is not needed in the future
- To increase intimacy and heart connection in the marriage
What if I Feel Like My Marriage is Hopeless?
When hurts have accrued over time, it is not unusual for you to feel this way. With
increasing hurt, love feelings decline. The mistake many make is to assume their love is
dead. We believe that the deeper love of commitment can see a couple through the hard
work of change. When the vicious cycle is arrested, forgiveness can occur, new patterns of
kindness and responsibility are established, and couples report renewed love feelings. We
have found that there is hope in situations that appear hopeless.
What if My Partner Will Not Come to Counseling?
This is another common problem. It is harder to make progress without cooperation;
however, an individual can learn to identify vicious cycles and make unilateral changes that
can change effectively a marriage relationship and family system.
What Can I Expect?
Typically, the first sessions are considered the assessment phase. This is when the therapist
will attempt to get the “big picture” of how the couple is functioning in various aspects of
their relationship and what patterns are in place. The therapist will then discuss his or her
findings with the couple and negotiate which areas to address first. Therapists may also meet
with the husband or wife alone at times. Work may focus on communication, conflict
resolution, past & current family relationships, confessing sins, time management, sexual
intimacy, renewing fun in the relationship, etc. Though wrongs are addressed, the goal is not
to create a list of wrongs judging who is right. We will assume that both partners have
contributed to marriage problems and that spouses have both good and bad qualities they
have brought into the marriage.