Couples Therapy, I Do or I Don’t?

10 Reasons Couples Therapy Won’t Work

The article in the link above is very good and I wanted to share it with my readers and potential clients. 

A well-respected psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, from the University of Washington has been studying marriage for many years now.  He said a long time ago, and I paraphrase here, most couples go to therapy to have a smoother divorce, not to work on their marriage.  I believe he also said something along the lines of about half of all marriages will fail.  Google him online and read about some of his research – you won’t regret it if you are hoping to walk down the aisle.

I think we all have a sense of this from people we know, ourselves included.  How many couples do you know whom have stayed married?  Women, of all the weddings you’ve been to in your life, how many have lasted?

Prior to getting my graduate degree in counseling psychology, I read a very eye-opening book called “The Good Marriage,”  by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee.  They interviewed couples that were sent to them from friends, religious institutions, families, who were known to have a good marriage. One of the criteria was that they had to have been married for nine years or more and have at least one child.  I learned a lot about the sense of partnership and committment from reading this book and I highly recommend it for people who are considering taking this step.

From the outside looking in, it is very easy for me to tell when a relationship is good and when it is ready to fall apart, or has already collapsed.  I don’t like playing games with people and I don’t want to waste their money.  I will ask people, “Are you here to work on your marriage or because you want an easier time getting a divorce?”  It seems like a confrontational statement but I think people appreciate someone laying the rules out on the table.  A wake-up call helps couples to really think about the bigger picture.  It is so easy to just do what he/she wants and be dragged down to therapy and in some cases the spouse feels guilty enough to do this.  However, when the trusted professional is calling the bluff, you have to put your cards down.

Marriage is not easy.  So many couples flock into nuptials for the wrong reasons and then they are “surprised” when it does not work out the way they had “expected.”  I put those two words in quotes to highlight two of the biggest problems in marriages.  No one is surprised because intuitively, we already know something is wrong from the get go.  Marriage does make people try harder but if they don’t go into it for the right reasons, they won’t get anything back.  Expectations for a marriage are no more frustrating than what your parents expected of you, or what you will expect from your children.  That word, expectations, it always messes things up and ends up making the person upset for thinking or fantasizing in the first place. In the end you feel really stupid for having done so.  You knew better! “Oh, but I had hoped…”

My preference is to work with couples prior to cohabiting or marrying.  I use the term cohabiting because not all couples can get married legally.  If a couple are both invested in the marriage prior the event, the chances of success are much higher.  This does not mean I would not welcome the couple in distress.  As long as both partners are there for the same reason – to work on the marital conflict, than we are in business.  If not, it is best to have a serious talk with each other and consider what is in the best interest of the family.  And since having that serious talk is not always so easy to do, that’s what I am here for as well.


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