How Online Marriage Counseling Can Benefit You
Marriage counseling is a collaborative, nonjudgmental process scientifically supported to help partners improve their relationship. It is supported by a rich history of research and scientific investigation, and today's techniques are known to increase marital satisfaction. Most spouses report that marriage counseling has significantly improved their lives. One study found that 70% of spouses who attended couples therapy reported increased satisfaction with their relationship after counseling.
Marriage counseling focuses on problem-solving, skill-building, and increasing intimacy. It does not focus on assigning blame or judgment. The counselor acts as a neutral guide and facilitator, helping the couple develop new skills, communicate about complex issues, and address concerns within themselves that impact the relationship. Spouses can pursue marriage counseling at any time, but experts suggest that the best results come to couples who attend counseling early before problems become overwhelming.
Reasons For Marriage Counseling
Couples and marriage therapy are expected to be among the fastest-growing psychotherapeutic fields over the next decade. Both married and unmarried couples are recognizing the benefits and overcoming the stigma associated with couples counseling.
Reasons for attending therapy vary; almost any concern, disruption, or problem that affects the relationship can be addressed through marriage counseling. Some couples also attend marriage counseling proactively, before problems are apparent, to gain skills that will allow them to avoid or navigate problems that occur in the future.
In the past, marriage counseling has been subject to several myths and misconceptions. One prominent myth is that marriage therapy is only useful when marital problems have become so overwhelming and severe that the spouses cannot possibly address their concerns without help. Another common myth is that once a marriage needs the help of a counselor, it is doomed to fail, but neither of these myths is supported by evidence.
Contrary to popular belief, the best time to see a marriage counselor is earlier, not later. Many spouses avoid addressing problems in their relationship until they have become severe, but the earlier a couple sees a therapist, the more likely they are to see significant improvement. Seeing a therapist about marital problems is helpful for over 70% of couples, defying the notion that those who attend marriage counseling are more likely to divorce.
There is general agreement about when to see a marriage counselor (earlier rather than later), but why spouses seek marriage counseling is much broader. Couples can see a marriage counselor for almost any reason related to relationship harmony and cohesion. Couples can also visit with a counselor to address individual concerns as a team, such as when one spouse is challenged by a substance use disorder.
Here are some other common reasons that spouses seek marriage counseling:
A lack of consistent, kind, empathetic communication.
Feelings of emotional distance or "falling out of love."
Difficulties associated with trust or trustworthy behavior.
Unequal division of labor between spouses.
Concerns related to parenting and childrearing.
When To Avoid Marriage Counseling
While marriage counseling is a good option for almost any marital problem, there is a specific circumstance where it should be avoided: abusive relationships. The National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends that marriage counseling should be avoided if either spouse displays any of the following:
Violence against you, other people, or property.
Aggressive behavior, including shouting, throwing objects, or other forms of intimidation.
Controlling behavior, including monitoring who you socialize with, how you dress, how you spend money, or other factors in your life.
If you feel your relationship may be abusive, strongly consider meeting with a counselor independently or contacting an appropriate resource before initiating marriage counseling. Couples therapy is often ineffective in abusive relationships. In some instances, the therapeutic process can worsen abusive behavior.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dangerous or abusive behavior at the hands of their partner, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also seek assistance through the hotline's online chat.
The Benefits Of Marriage Counseling
Modern approaches to marriage counseling are evidence-based and supported by years of empirical research. It is considered effective in helping spouses move past many marital concerns and has been demonstrated to improve communication, intimacy, empathy, and problem-solving skills. Partners learn how to navigate pre-existing problems as well as avoid new ones, and couples often come away from the process with the tools necessary to ensure that they do not need to return to counseling in the future.
Overall, 70% of couples report a significant increase in relationship satisfaction following marriage counseling. Not only do spouses gain skills and learn how to apply them to their marriage, but they also likely gain insight into themselves. Marriage counselors often uncover long-standing individual concerns that impact a relationship, often without the person being aware of how significantly the relationship is affected.
Marriage counseling also has the benefit of providing an open, nonjudgmental atmosphere for free discussion. While in a counseling session, many couples find it significantly easier to speak about relationship issues. Things that are avoided in day-to-day marital conversation are expected to be brought up in counseling, giving spouses "permission" to speak freely.
The Marriage Counseling Process
Marriage counseling is designed to be free from judgment and negativity. The focus of counseling isn't to assign blame or act as a "marriage court" where both spouses present their cases and the therapist decides who is at fault. The therapist acts as a neutral guide and facilitator, helping spouses understand themselves and their partners. Empathy is essential in any romantic relationship, and the therapist will work to help the couple create an open, empathetic atmosphere for discussion and skill development.
In some cases, spouses disagree on whether they should attend counseling. "Mixed agenda" couples are relationships where one person has decided – or is leaning towards – ending the marriage, and the other partner wants to address problems through therapy. If a mixed-agenda couple visits with a marriage counselor, they will likely begin the process by initiating discernment counseling.
Discernment counseling is an empirically supported approach for helping spouses mutually decide the future of their marriage. It follows the same marriage counseling principles but is focused solely on determining whether the relationship will continue. At the end of the process, the couple will choose one of three options: to continue the marriage as-is, to end the marriage, or to work on marital problems in therapy.
If both spouses decide to pursue therapy and work on their marriage, the therapist will continue to assess the relationship and help the couple establish goals for therapy. Every couple has a different experience in marriage counseling; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The therapist uses their expertise and experience to determine the best course of action, then selects an evidence-based approach that will likely have the greatest effect. The therapist may use one technique or multiple, and they might combine them to optimize the effect.
As the couple proceeds through therapy, they will regularly update their goals and report to the therapist how well the interventions are working. Marriage counseling often involves homework and activities for the couple to complete outside of the therapy session. The process is continually updated and adapted. As the therapist gains a sense of how well the couple is doing, they will make changes to the course of therapy and work with the couple to help them keep their goals updated.
As the couple progresses, the therapist will help them decide when to terminate therapy. Marriage counseling is not designed to be a long or never-ending process; most couples are ready to end their counseling journey after only 12 sessions.
Marriage counseling is an effective, evidence-based approach to help partners overcome problems in their marriage. While it cannot save everyone's marriage, it is more likely to be helpful than harmful. Around 70% of couples report a significant increase in their relationship satisfaction following counseling. The counseling process is nonjudgmental and constructive. The therapist works with each spouse to help them decide on an appropriate course for therapy and helps them develop skills that will allow them to meet their goals. Blame and judgment are not the focuses of marriage counseling, but rather calm, empathetic, kind communication and problem-solving.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you do marriage counseling online?
Whether you go through ReGain, another online therapy website, or a therapist who offers both face-to-face and virtual sessions near you, you can absolutely do marriage counseling or couples counseling online. Additionally, online therapy has been researched and proven effective in a number of studies. This is true both for online therapy designed for couples and online therapy designed for individuals. Online therapy has become an increasingly popular option throughout the years. The best online marriage counseling will always be conducted by a licensed professional, so make sure to use a website like ReGain that only offers support from licensed providers. Whether you get marriage counseling online or in person, your relationship is sacred, so you want to make sure that you get the best online marriage counseling available.
Is marriage counseling free?
Whether you get couples therapy using an online therapy option or in person, couples counseling or couples therapy is not typically free. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, some religious institutions offer couples counseling or couples therapy for free. Couples therapy or couples counseling through online options like ReGain is typically more affordable than traditional in-person couples therapy, or couples counseling is in the absence of insurance, making online therapy a perfect fit for couples hoping to find marriage counseling without breaking the bank. Again, the best online marriage counseling will always be conducted by licensed professionals. Remember that coaching and counseling, for example, are not the same thing. While coaches may be versed in helping couples, the best online marriage counseling sites and online therapy sites will ensure licensure. If a website says that it offers the best online marriage counseling, but the individuals helping couples aren’t licensed providers, be wary and put your money toward a licensed professional.
What is the #1 cause of divorce?
Many studies have attempted to find the top cause or causes of divorce. Some sources say that the number one divorce cause is contempt, whereas others say that the number one cause of divorce is financial issues or a lack of commitment. The good news is that if you have concerns about your marriage or feel that your partnership needs some mending, couples therapy can help. Relationship therapy or couples therapy such as emotionally focused therapy (EFT) and the Gottman method is regarded as successful relationship therapy forms. If the first form of couples therapy you receive isn’t a good fit for you or the first couples counselor or therapist you see isn’t a good fit for you, know that you can always switch. One of the benefits of online therapy is that it’s typically easier and faster to switch providers if needed.
Do marriage counselors ever recommend divorce?
Whether you attend online therapy or in-person therapy, a provider such as a marriage counselor or marriage and family therapist will rarely recommend divorce. Couples counseling professionals such as counselors or therapists will only recommend divorce and very rare cases, such as domestic violence. Regardless of if you get marriage counseling online or in person, a provider offering any form of couples therapy or counseling for couples is not there to make choices for you. Instead, they’re there to support you through the couples therapy process and help you meet your goals. However, if you decide to get a divorce, divorce counseling can be a great deal of help throughout the process. Divorce counseling is helpful for couples hoping to separate amicably and peacefully and is not meant to prevent divorce. If you’re looking to work through relationship issues and prevent divorce, relationship counseling is the way to go.
What are the 3 most important things in a marriage?
Three of the most important things in a marriage are mutual respect, commitment, and affection. Of course, other components of a healthy relationship, such as communication and trust, are also essential. If you’re struggling with respect, commitment, trust, communication, affection, or anything else, consider getting marriage counseling online or near you. The providers at ReGain are licensed and adept at counseling couples facing a wide variety of concerns, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you need it.
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