Do you have the feeling that your marriage has gotten to the point that professional help is the only solution? Have you ever questioned the effectiveness of marriage counselors in solving the issues you can’t work out with your spouse?
Many married couples choose couples counseling as an option after they have tried other means to solve the issues that pose great threats to their union as a couple. After all, the Bible says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed” in Proverbs 15:22.
Marriage counseling has its specific advantages and disadvantages, but you won’t know if marriage counseling works or not until you give it a try. Marriage counseling may cost you a bit of money but consider it an investment that more than likely will benefit you in the future.
One partner may not have faith in marriage counseling, while their spouse might insist they should try it. In such circumstances, getting a marriage counselor can be an additional issue for the husband and the wife.
The Difference Between Couples Counseling and Advice from Family and Friends
As soon as a marriage is in chaos, partners have a habit of asking friends or family for guidance to the solution of the marital issues. This is normal. Even the Bible suggested that we should “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Family and friends may not be experts, however, and even though they have good intentions, many of their suggestions may be more detrimental to your marriage and complicate things further as the feedback is usually loaded with emotions rather than objective feedback.
Therefore, it is necessary to get a counselor to help resolve any issues. A counselor does not know you or your partner personally and will be capable to assist both of you effectively and understand various ways to find solutions to your marital problems. Plus, a counselor will provide an unbiased perspective.
Additionally, a marriage counselor has been trained in various methodologies and they have been exposed to many realistic marital problems, and have helped many couples already. Couples counseling can provide numerous solutions, in case the initial suggestions do not work.
Pros and Cons of Couples Counseling
The following are the apparent pros and cons of marriage counseling:
Pro: ‘Stranger’s understanding’
Male and female partners frequently become locked in a series of disagreements and misunderstandings making it necessary to ask for assistance from someone outside their family and friends who won’t take sides. In such scenarios, marriage counseling can be the most suitable option.
Alongside the fact that a counselor is an expert who is fully aware of the methods to be used in solving the marital issues, having a marriage counselor relieves both partners from the stress of scrutinizing their matrimonial afflictions without experiencing more misunderstandings or fighting while they are trying to help themselves.
Marriage partners can also become unaware through their sentiments which can lead to the failure to identify the problems in the situation and potential solutions. In such situations, a counselor’s opinion is vital in that it offers concrete solutions to different forms of problems leading to the realization of the effectiveness of couples counseling.
Con: Possibility of a different outcome than what was expected
In case you are wondering, marriage counseling is certainly not a guarantee to make the marriage work. Sometimes couples come to marriage counseling with years and years of conflict and, with only an hour or two of counseling a week at best, managing expectations is important.
Sometimes a partner will terminate counseling early and sometimes unmanaged trauma and conflict are beyond repair by the time a couple comes into counseling. By any case, a counselor will meet you in your struggles and continue to guide you until issues are resolved or regrettably, lead to an unavoidable parting.
If a husband and wife could work out their marital problems without another person’s assistance, then marriage counseling would not be necessary. But the fact is that sometimes couples cannot handle some issues on their own and in those cases, it is necessary to request the assistance of a counselor to actively intervene and give positive feedback and promote change.
The Bible supports this, it says: “Where there is no guidance people fall, but in abundance of counselors, there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14). Marriage counseling works. Involving a counselor will help the couple appreciate the guidance and try to make things work.
Occasionally, it is too soon for some couples to go through marriage counseling meaning one person is not ready for change. While other times, it is very late. In such circumstances, marriage counseling may not be effective for the husband and wife. There is a “sweet spot” for marriage counseling and much of its effectiveness relies on the ability to change and embrace it.
Married partners must be open to acknowledging that they are unable to find solutions to their marital challenges since without being open minded, change is not likely to happen. Nonetheless, couples must also be invested in working on marital issues at home and not be solely reliant on the counseling sessions. Ultimately, your marriage counselor is just a director. The majority of the work will need to be done by you.
Overall, choosing marriage counseling is a mostly positive experience for most couples. Dedicating the time and resources, regardless of the outcome, is an investment that your marriage deserves.
“Bench,” courtesy of mrhayata, Flickr Creative Commons, 2.0 License; “In love,” courtesy of Valerie Everett, Flickr.com, CC by 2.0 License; “Sitting on a dock,” courtesy of Susanne Nilsson, FCC (CC BY-SA 2,0)