Does Marriage Counseling Work? These Facts May Surprise You 

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Does Marriage Counseling Work

Does marriage counseling work for everyone? The answer to this question will vary depending on many factors such as your willingness to change, how well you respond to the techniques given by the therapist, and the depth of your martial issues. While counseling has worked wonders for many couples, it can make another couple’s relationship much worse. Whether your marriage is already on the rocks or has just started to head down that rocky path, the following facts about marriage counseling can help you to determine if it’s the right course for your marriage.

Are You Both Willing to Make Your Marriage Work?

Couples and families who have attended couple’s or family therapy sessions show a high rate of patient satisfaction as shown by research done by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Over ninety-eight percent of people surveyed reported that they received excellent or good therapy results. After working with a therapist for three months over ninety percent of couples felt that they had been given the right tools for dealing with their marital issues. Others reported improved ability to function at home and work and an increase in physical health.

Whether or not couple’s therapy will work for you and your partner will depend on whether or not your significant other is willing to go with you. If they simply refuse to go, you might be able to change your relationship’s dynamic by going to individual therapy. But statistics have shown that family or couple’s therapy is much more effective than going to therapy alone. When a family or couple goes together, they’ll have a chance to work on the group dynamic, which leads to faster success.  Usually, it will take significantly fewer sessions to accomplish a goal in couple’s or family therapy than it does if you’re going to therapy alone. In the end, this means you’ll spend less money on therapy and your marriage will get back on track sooner.

How Marriage Counseling Can Change Your Marriage

When many couples begin therapy, they’re stressed about money in addition to their marital problems. The added stress of a therapy bill can almost be overwhelming for many couples, and in some cases, it can even derail the therapy. If you want to ditch this extra stress, opt for a licensed couple’s therapist instead of seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. These professionals are very experienced and often charge twenty to forty percent less than other mental health specialists.

For some couples, marriage counseling can actually convince them that they’re in an unhealthy relationship and it can actually give a couple the encouragement they need to end the relationship. According to some studies, twenty-five percent of couples who go to therapy together report that their marriage is worse after going to therapy. Forty percent of couples who go to marriage counseling will get divorced within three years of ending therapy.

does marriage counseling work

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix that can repair a broken marriage, but many specialists have found success using emotionally focused therapy. Statistics have shown that this type of therapy has a higher success rate than traditional marriage therapy techniques. By focusing on a couple’s emotional cycles, a couple can earn a better understanding of each other, and this, in turn, helps to create new ways to interact with each other. When a couple turns to emotionally focused therapy, over ninety percent of them reported a significant improvement in their relationship. Around seventy-five percent of couples who were in distress were able to move into the recovery phase after using this type of therapy for one month.

This type of therapy is designed to teach couples how to foster their attachment in productive and healthy ways.

Many marriage counselors have found that therapy is more effective if couples seek help sooner. If a couple waits until their issues are too far advanced, a partner may have already given up, so saving the relationship at that point can be difficult if not impossible. In other instances, a couple’s communication patterns have become so negative and abusive that a therapist may find it difficult to teach them new ways to communicate. Couples should seek therapy as soon as problems arise, for the best chance at success.

Research has also shown that the amount of education a therapist has might not be that important. In a survey of five thousand people, participants had no changes in how they felt about the success or lack thereof of their therapy whether they saw a social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist. In cases where couples only had a few choices because of insurance restrictions, they felt the therapy they received was less effective. A person may want to choose their therapist based on their instincts and whether they feel a connection. If it feels like a particular specialist can help, schedule a session and give it a shot. If it feels like it’s not a good match, talk with a different professional.

Is Your Marriage Doomed From the Start?

For several years, most people believed that half of marriages end in divorce. Unfortunately, this statistic often makes people feel like their marriage has a slim chance of success, even before problems arise. Couples these days who end up marrying tend to be much older than couples who married just twenty years ago. And this older age seems to have helped to lower the divorce rate. Before you give up on your marriage, you must carefully consider whether your preconceived notions about marriage or the high divorce rate are what’s making you throw in the towel.

How long should I try marriage counseling before I give up? This is a common question, and again it depends on you, your partner’s willingness to go, and whether or not you’ve seen positive changes. If you simply haven’t had any success with therapy, even after changing therapists, most mental health professionals recommend giving it at least eight months of treatment before you decide to try another avenue.

Does marriage counseling work? Statistics and Facts

Many have heard of the infamous statistic claiming that 50% of first marriages are likely to end up in divorce. However,  not only is this statistic outdated and not based on any conclusive study, but it is simply not true. Divorces are, in fact on the decline - or at least they have been since the last 30 years or so.  Nonetheless, marriage rates are on the decline too...

The truth is, divorce rates depend on partners' religious beliefs, level of education and many other factors that are constantly changing with society's evolution.When divorce happens, it leads to difficulties for both adults and children. To adults, divorce is one of the most stressful event in their life. The decision to divorce is met with uncertainty and ambivalence about the future. If there are children involved, they may experience negative effects such as anger, denial, blame, feelings of abandonment, acting out and guilt. Though in some cases divorce may be the healthy choice, others may wish to try and salvage the union through marriage counseling.

Marriage counseling is based on the principle that couples and their problems are best handled within the context of couple’s relationship. Typically, both partners attend counseling sessions to discuss the issues they are facing. The aim of marriage counseling is to help the affected couple deal with the immediate problems as well as learn better ways to relate.However, while marriage counseling works wonders for some couples, it can make other marriages worse or even lead to divorce.

Let's take a closer look at the marriage counseling results statistics below.

Does Marriage Counseling Work? Here's What The Statistics Say

  • Over 98% of couples who have attended marriage counseling sessions reported that they received good or excellent therapy, and over 97% of those surveyed said they got the help they needed. After working with a marriage or family therapist, 93% of the couples surveyed said they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems.
  • Couples or family therapy is usually faster and more effective than individual therapy alone. When a couple or a family goes to therapy together, they have the chance to work on their group dynamic, and this leads them to success faster. Typically, it takes about a third of the sessions to accomplish a goal in family or couples therapy than it does in individual therapy.
  • When couples turn to emotionally-focused therapy (EFT), 90% report significant improvements in their relationship, and between 70 and 75% of couples who are undergoing a marriage crisis are able to move into recovery using EFT.
  • Approximately a quarter of couples who receive marriage counseling report that their relationship is worse two years after ending therapy, and a whopping 38% get divorced within four years of completing therapy.


"Does marriage counseling really work?" This is the first question most partners ask themselves before seeking marriage counseling. There is no definite answer to this question but answers to the following questions can help.

  • Can you identify what the problem is?
  • Do you share the same view with your partner?
  • Are you and your partner willing to change in order to solve the problem?
  • Are you able to change? And is your partner?

The truth is, there are many factors that impact the effectiveness or failure of marriage counseling. Whether your marriage problems have just began or it is already on the rocks, understanding these factors will help you determine whether or not marriage counseling will work for you.

The 4 Factors that affect the effectiveness of marriage counseling

does marriage counseling work

1. When couples seek assistance

Basically, the longer a couple waits to seek help from a counselor, the more deeply ingrained the communication problems will be, which makes them more resistant to treatment.

According to surveys, 44 per cent of couples have endured over two years of relationship difficulties before seeking help while a significant number waits until it is too late. By then, many years of resentment and bitterness have built up and the fear of being hurt again blocks out any willingness to change.

The sooner a couple seeks helps, the higher the chances of salvaging the union. Therefore, the moment you begin to experience any of the following problems in your marriage, you should consider marriage counseling immediately:

  • Communication has deteriorated and become negative. This includes anything that leaves either of the partner feeling insecure, disregarded, depressed or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. It also includes the tone of the conversation.
  • When a partner has had an affair or is considering having an affair.
  • When couples become more like roommates rather than a married couple.
  • When partners cannot resolve their differences
  • When the only solution appears to be separation
  • When either partner begins to act out on negative feelings such as disappointment or resentment.
  • When the couple is only staying together because of the kids

2. Willingness to change

It is hard to build a successful team if only half of the players are willing to participate. If only one partner makes the decision to give marriage counseling a try, the other partner may also decide to go but if he or she refuses to join the counseling sessions, then chances of success are limited. This is because it takes a lot of commitment and patience for any relationship to move past an obstacle.

However, some people may prefer to have counseling alone to work out their feelings and see a separate counselor as a couple.

It is hard to build a successful team if only half of the players are willing to participate

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3. Couples expectations

Whether or not marriage counseling will work also depends on the goals. The difficulty with most couples is that they have different ideas on what the outcome should be.

Couples with realistic goals in therapy are more likely to succeed. An attainable goal list for instance may include: to achieve healthier means of communication, to be able to co-parent together or to improve intimate life with the partner.

However, it is not realistic to expect a relationship that is 100 per cent harmonious at all times as it is impossible to avoid conflicts in a relationship. Another unreasonable expectation is the assumption that the relationship will be fixed within a few counseling session as it can take months or even years for progress to be detected. Also, when one of the two partners thinks that it is the other who needs to change or when one person wants help in ending the relationship while the other want to remain together, the counseling is not going to work.

For some couples, the objective of marriage counseling is not a peaceful reconciliation but a civil divorce. Whatever the goals is, it will take both partners to make any relationship work. At the same time, it takes the willingness of two people to cooperate to make the separation amicable and easy for the children.

4. Effectiveness of the counselor

While there are countless of marriage counselors, most of them are actually ineffective which makes finding a good counselor quite a daunting task.

Since dealing with an ineffective counselor is one of the major reason why marriage counseling may not work, ensure that you are hiring a trained and licensed counselor. Most importantly, ensure that he or she has experience in dealing with the issues you are facing. You can even ask to talk to previous clients before taking the plunge.

As aforementioned, marriage counseling is not only for couple looking to improve their relationship but also for those who want help ending it. It is especially beneficial for couples with children who want to ensure the end of the union does not lead to the breakdown of the family.

Does marriage counseling work? Ultimately, it is difficult to measure if it does, mostly because the outcome has different meanings in different relationship. To some people, it is intended to transform their lives and relationship while others are looking for help in solving problems and being able to move forward with less anxiety and more confidence.

Want more?

I have researched extensively the best online resources that can help you saving your marriage (even if you're the only one trying), and I recommend the one below, as it's the most effective and comprehensive, and has the highest success rate.

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