The Dangers Of Marriage Counseling – Why It Often Fails
Have you considered or are in marriage counseling? If your marriage is in trouble then your answer is probably yes. But will marriage counseling help you? Will marriage counselling be a healing experience or will it make your marriage worse?
Many people ask me how I ended up as a marriage expert saving and strengthening 1000’s of peoples marriages all over the world. … “Nicola what made you choose this path, when I you are not yet married?” they would ask and still do. The truth is… I was working helping individuals and families through divorce to bring new positive changes into their life and time after time I would hear them say that they were getting divorced and didn’t want it to be over. That they had tried marriage counselling or talking through their problems and that had made things worse.
I later discovered that a common statistic is that 75% of marriage counselling leaves couples worse off or divorced after. For literally 1000’s of couples it make things worse, which is why the empowered love formula and marriage makeover programs I created are ALTERNATIVES to marriage counseling.
Why do we need an alternative to marriage counseling? What’s wrong with marriage counseling?
When I asked countless couples what happened in their marriage counseling sessions they described what happens in individual counseling. Individual counseling is typically where the counsellor listen’s and empathizes patiently, as the client tells their story. The counselor asks questions to expose to the client how they feel at a deeper level and leave it for the client to assess their options.
This gentle, laid back approach will not work if you are trying to save your marriage. Working on a marriage requires focus, actions and structure. Here lies the problem, most marriage counsellors are individual therapists and follow the same way to help a couple. This doesn’t get results. The role of a good marriage professional should be to lead the couple, be assertive and provide guidelines on how to change the way they relate. Otherwise what tends to happen is the couple will move the battle ground from their home to the counsellor’s office. The counselor will feel that progress has been made. because a lot has been clarified and aired. That is because, for the marriage counsellor it is the first time they have heard these things being said! For the couple they will have already discussed the same things before and will feel like nothing has been accomplished. In fact most couples leave feeling hopeless. Like they are somehow failing to make things work using this method, that perhaps their marriage cannot be fixed. When it is the method, not the couple that is to blame.
Having done some transformational work with individuals and couples now, one thing I know for sure is that you cannot apply the same method of individual counseling to marriage counselling. When a “marriage counselor” lets a couple clients get caught up in trying to persuade the counselor or each other their “side of the story” they are doing the couple a disservice. It’s a complete waste of time. Same with focusing on re-hashing out the past history of problems again and again.
You cannot talk someone into your way of thinking… and a marriage expert in my opinion is not their to take sides, but there to help. Helping a couple heal a relationship is a completely different process than helping an individual love, heal and find them self.
If you want help with your marriage you don’t just want a professional to listen. You want someone with the confidence in the ability to provide a clear path to healing the marriage and moving forward. This only happens through actions. You want a marriage professional who is not shy about holding you and your spouse accountable to what you agree in your current and future action plan.
In short, you want leadership, you want direction, you want someone to guide you what to do based on what has worked for 1000’s of successful couples before you. Unfortunately couples marriage counselling usually fails in this regard. This is why I do what I do. I felt my clients pain when they said they still love their husband or wife but feel stuck or hopeless to change things. The empowered love and marriage makeover programs I created on the other hand, provide a clear strategy with a proven step-by-step system for strengthening your marriage.
Another problem with traditional marriage counselling model I see is that there is an over-emphasis on feelings. While this is essential for individual counselling in marriage counseling it can cause undue strain to the relationship. If the marriage counsellor keeps focusing on having the couple share their feelings and repeat the negative side of the relationship, it often causes more distance, shame and shutdown.
Picture this; Stephen comes home from work one day and his wife Jennifer tells him she has had enough, she is unhappy and it’s over. Stephen then wakes up and agrees to join marriage counseling with her. Stephen is asked how he feels about being in the first marriage counseling session.
He replies: “I want to save my marriage and make my wife happy”.
“No that is not a feeling”, says the counselor. “…that is a thought.”
Stephen replies “I just want to fix the marriage and I am ready to do whatever it takes to make my wife happy again.”
“But how do you feel Stephen?” the marriage counselor asks.
“I don’t know” says Stephen, ” I would like to discuss the solutions please”
” You need to get in touch with your feelings first before we work on the marriage.”
Stephen feels agitated and hopeless. He is new to this and is trying his best. He is not interested into insight into himself right now, right now his priority is his marriage. He does not care about his psyche, he cares about his wife and children.
There is nothing wrong with this. It’s healthy in fact to know what you want and be willing to act.
The marriage counselor then turns to Jennifer.
” Jennifer how do you feel ”
“I feel lonely, disappointed, angry, let down, hopeless and fed up.”
Ok, that’s great you have shared that, thank you” says the counsellor and “why do you feel that way? “Please elaborate on your feelings…”
Jennifer goes on to explain something she has already shared more than once before and Stephen and Jennifer both leaving feeling more exhausted and disheartened. Jennifer because she has spent an hour reliving the past pain and gotten nowhere. Stephen because he feels more shame, hearing his failings without one suggestion of how to fix it.
Let me be clear, I love individual counseling and self-discovery. I have been on my own path of self-discovery and healing for the past 9 years and I will always continue to work on myself. This is because I love to do this. But this is not for everyone and self-exploration is always done best individually. The joint relationship counseling sessions I run focus on the future not the past. As repeating past history does not bring forgiveness or closeness .
Another alarming thing I find with traditional marriage counselling. Is that many marriage counselors would describe themselves as neutral marriage therapists. By that I meant they say they are not in favor of marriage or divorce instead their job in the marriage counseling process is to guide you through a cost-benefit analysis of the relationship. To put it another way, they plan to assess your marriage by going through a list of pros and cons for staying married. This is a disaster. You cannot weigh up or measure love, connection, friendship, trust, resentment or the emotional cost of divorce.
The modern world has become very consumer orientated and unfortunately this consumer mentality has come into mainstream marriage counseling. Deciding about your marriage is not akin to a purchasing decision . Relationships and family values do not lend themselves to be compared in charts. This approach does not work. It creates more confusion and stuckness. The only way to know if a marriage is save-able is to get out of limbo and into action.
My approach to strengthening marriages is radically different. I am not neutral unless there is physical abuse or danger. I will never tell a couple that their relationship will not work or they are better up apart as some marriage counselors do. I am not on the side of either one of the spouse. I am on the side of the marriage. This is what couples need. This is why countless couples invest their time and energy in my relationship programs, they want to be guided on how to go about creating a new way forward. I walk couples through proven steps that enable them to know exactly HOW to transform their closeness and clear things holding them back like past hurt, poor communication and resentment. In a way that is authentic to them.
Recently Mary joined the empowered love formula on her own after marriage counseling had failed to have any positive impact on her marriage. After only a week she began to notice some positive changes in how she felt. A few weeks later she noticed a huge shift in her husband’s attitude, he was more helpful around the house and less controlling. I asked her what she attributed her success to, she said with marriage counselling all she kept being asked was the same questions, “what do you feel?” and “what do you think you should do” she soon got tired of that. She felt she was not learning anything new.
She wanted answers, solutions and suggestions. She said to me “Nicola I am so thankful to find that you give answers and steps for me and us as a couple, it’s completely different to the marriage counseling we tried and that didn’t change anything. If you want to start getting some answers, download my free e-book 7 secrets to fixing your marriage here:
You get way more than this e-book when you subscribe to download it. I will also be sending you a list of powerful relationship boosting emails too. To get you well on the way to having the marriage you really want. Click here now https://training.nicolabeer.com/7-secrets-marriage
If you want to go it alone then follow this exercise. On one side of paper write a list of everything that you are unhappy about (to be kept confidential only for you) on the other side ask yourself – what do I need to let this go? Is it something you need to do, some action your spouse can take? or both. Then when ready, have a positive discussion with your spouse, where you agree for the next 6 weeks to make one behavior request of each other, each week. It can be something simple like “help more with clearing the table, put your phone away for an hour in the evening, plan a night out, or help you to get time to yourself… etc etc. Explore your feelings first alone and then think of ways to make things happier. Sharing complaints without action is futile. If you are stuck not knowing what you want, or what will help, consider getting some support. This is far more productive than leaving it for your spouse to guess and disappoint you.
Hope this article in some way helps,
From my heart to yours, Nicola
P.S If you are curious to learn more about how you can transform your relationship today in less than 60 minutes, watch the marriage secret masterclass by clicking on this link https://loveformula.nicolabeer.com/masterclass-registration
It has a reputation for transforming relationships with a 98% success rate. Watch it and see 🙂