Would you jump at the chance to strengthen your relationship and learn how to communicate better with your partner? The answer is likely yes. But, before jumping into a romantic therapy session you might be asking yourself: “Does couples therapy work?”
One census found that 40% of marriages will end before their 30th wedding anniversary. To curb this divorce rate, married couples are encouraged to attend counseling.
There is no black and white answer as to whether these therapy sessions will fix your marriage. The truth is, there are many factors that will determine whether or not you will have success with couples counseling. Here is everything you need to know about couples therapy and whether or not it will work for you.
Does couples therapy work? What statistics say
A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy shows that on average, 70% of couples experience higher marriage satisfaction after attending marriage counseling than those who go into marriage without professional assistance.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 93% of their patients said they were able to deal with marital problems more effectively after receiving counseling. Further statistics show that 70-75% of couples moved from a state of distress into recovery after going through Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT).
How does couples therapy work? Factors to consider
Couples therapy works by bringing you and your spouse closer together. It resolves issues that are both underlying and obvious. If you want couples therapy to strengthen your marriage, here are some things you must consider.
1. Be willing to participate
First and foremost, you must be willing to participate in your therapy sessions in order for them to work. Some of the homework assignments may seem awkward or embarrassing and the questions will be personal and revealing, but you can’t expect to see results if you aren’t willing to put in the work. This means being honest and open about your wants, needs, and desires in the relationship.
2. Choose a quality counselor
During your first session your counselor, or therapist, will ask get-to-know-you questions about you individually, as well as about your relationship. This will help them get a better understanding of your wants, needs, desires, as well as how you function romantically.
Choosing the right counselor will make all the difference in how successful your therapy is. One factor in couples therapy failing has to do with the therapist not being qualified to deal with the issues at hand, or not being a good fit for the couple.
Do not be afraid to change out your counselor if you feel that they are not the right person to be assisting you in strengthening your marriage.
3. Be open and honest about grievances
When it comes to making therapy work, you must be willing to be open and honest with your partner about any problems you might be having. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this.
If you have ever been yelled at by a parent or a spouse after you’ve done something wrong, it likely didn’t make you feel very good. In fact, you probably felt less inclined, to be honest about a failing in the future.
How you handle yourself when airing grievances with your partner will have a direct impact on how they treat you. During therapy sessions, you will learn how to talk to your partner honestly and respectfully about subjects big and small.
4. Embrace conflict resolution for couples
Every relationship has conflict, whether it’s something small like who takes out the trash or something more devastating like infidelity in the marriage. Do not use your therapy session as an arena for arguing, but rather, a teaching tool for communication.
Take advantage of the conflict resolution tools your therapist gives you. You will be taught to talk to one another, listen carefully, identify where you agree and disagree, attack the problem and not your partner, and develop a plan on how to sort out your issues.
5. Be willing to improve communication
Another key ingredient for successful couples therapy is improving communication. You will learn how to communicate your negative feelings constructively and express positive feelings regularly. Listening without getting defensive, asking for clarification instead of assuming, and spending time together talking and sharing are all healthy points of couples communication your therapist will stress.
6. Building trust, bonding, and rebuilding
Does couples therapy work? If your relationship is in trouble, you will learn a lot about one another through couples therapy. Sessions are built on not only improving communication but also reminding you why you and your partner work. Appreciation building, bonding, and strengthening your relationship are all important aspects of couples therapy.
7. Be patient and honest with yourself
Do you really want to save your relationship? This is a hard-hitting question you must give yourself an honest answer to.
You cannot expect your therapy to be beneficial when you’ve already thrown in the towel if you are using couples therapy as a way to tell your partner you’re done with the marriage or are simply participating just to say you tried everything.
If you are sincere in wanting to strengthen your marriage, remember to be patient. Couples therapy doesn’t become a success overnight. It takes time, effort, and a lot of patience in order to see results.
The bottom line
When many people ask “Does couples therapy work?” what they are really asking is if counseling will prevent them from getting divorced. There is no clear-cut answer as to whether couples therapy works since much of the answer depends on you.
When it comes to seeking marriage counseling or couples therapy, the sooner you seek help, the more likely you are to benefit from your sessions. If you are going into marriage counseling with your mind already made up about getting a divorce, you probably aren’t going to come out of your therapy sessions feeling successful.
Marriage counseling or couples therapy isn’t a quick fix for saving a marriage. It takes work, determination, and time.
Does couples therapy work? You must have the right motivations and a great attitude before going to couple’s therapy if you want to see results. If you are both determined to practice the exercises and lessons your counselor gives you, you will see success in your marriage.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.