Both falling in love and getting married are stressful in their own ways. But you might say that they represent the easy part. It’s maintaining a marriage that can be difficult. Raising children, struggling with finances, working long hours, facing personal struggles — simply learning how to navigate the ups and down of life together can take a toll on any relationship.
It’s no wonder that more then 40%of marriages end in divorce. While it’s true that many marriages just weren’t meant to be — some couples grow apart or realize that they are incompatible, for example — many marriages end because couples don’t have the tools to manage their problems.
What Is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling, or couples therapy, is a kind of counseling that focuses specifically on marriages and relationships. Marriage counselors — usually Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) — are specifically trained to help couples diagnose their problems and work on solutions. Marriage counseling is a safe place for couples to hash things out — to talk about what is really on their minds.
Communication is key when it comes to solving marriage problems and marriage counseling is one of the best ways to improve communication skills, come to mutual understandings, and figure out how to move forward as a couple — or amicably end a marriage, if that is the right choice for the couple.
Who Should Seek Marriage Counseling?
There is often a stigma attached to marriage counseling. Many people think that only couples who are about to divorce or split up seek marriage counseling. But the truth is, all marriages have their struggles. Most couples could benefit from marriage counseling at one time or another.
Although it’s called “marriage counseling,” you don’t have to be married to seek marriage counseling. Any couple can seek counseling, regardless of the status of their relationship. Marriage counseling is for straight couples, gay couples, couples of all races, and couples who have less traditional relationship set-ups (long distance; open marriages; married, but not living together). You can go to marriage counseling whether you are just starting out or have been married for 40 years. Many couples even seek marriage counseling before tying the knot.
Again, there are really no restrictions on why you might consider marriage counseling. Any struggle that you don’t feel like you can solve on your own — or could benefit from a trained, objective, unbiased perspective — can be helped by a few sessions of marriage counseling.
Still, there are some specific issues that typically prompt couples to seek counseling, including:
- Couples who feel like they have the same fight over and over and it’s hard to see eye to eye or come up with a solution.
- Couples who disagree about parenting, financial, or lifestyle choices.
- Couples who feel that household responsibilities are unequal and can’t figure out how to effectively communicate about this or come up with solutions.
- Couples who feel that they have lost sexual or romantic chemistry.
- Couples who feel like their marriage is on auto-pilot.
- Couples who feel unheard or who feel like their partner is emotionally unavailable.
- Couples who have experienced a recent tragedy or loss and are having trouble processing it together.
- Couples who are dealing with substance abuse, infidelity, or mental health issues.