Research shows that the United States currently has a divorce rate of almost 50%. Although we still hear of couples who are married 25, 30 or more years, it certainly is not the majority.
Infidelity and money are top reasons mentioned as reasons for divorce, but research shows that often couples enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations and poor communication skills. Have you thought about needing marriage help?
Do you find yourself in conflict more than occasionally? What do you think would cause you to seek it out help?
Sometimes people wait until things have gotten so bad that they have come to hate their partner. If the relationship is not as good as you like, consider getting help before major problems set into your marriage.
Some people think that you shouldn’t stir the pot of emotions unless absolutely necessary. Is that your thought? Does it scare you to face deep feelings?
Maybe your marriage just needs a bit of jump start. If so, you may want to consider looking into marriage help before big problems begin. As they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The services were chosen on prevalence and effectiveness for marital discord.
1. Couples Counseling
Although styles vary, this type of marriage help focuses on partners working on identifying areas of conflict and with the help of the therapist work with interventions to minimize or resolve the problems.
- Both partners are involved in the process.
- Various styles available to work most compatibly with the couple.
- Depending on the setting, blame and unhealthy behavior can be allowed to continue.
- May not be a safe place for one or both partners.
2. Family Therapy
Marriage help that involves all members of the household to include: biological/adopted/blended/foster children, extended family, and both partners. The goals are about addressing problem areas and working with the entire family, individually and collectively, to build a strong and healthy unit.
It can also be a way for the rest of the family to support one specific member with a specialized concern.
- All family members can be heard, and there is opportunity for more open interaction.
- The couple has the support of other family members.
- Family therapy can be much more complicated and longer lasting than couples therapy alone.
- Availability may be a concern since not all couples therapists do family therapy.
3. Religion-Based Counseling
Marriage help using the principles of the couples’ faith can be very effective if this is part of the couples’ belief system.
- Powerful form of intervention utilizing mutually agreed upon values.
- Effective method for using an outside influence to positively affect the areas of conflict.
- May build upon unresolved issues of faith.
- May be perceived as condescending and dismissive by the couple.
4. Imago Therapy
This type of marriage help combines spiritual with western psychological techniques to help the couple resolve conflicts. Its focus is on the dynamic of the couple and not the behaviors of each person.
- Does not focus on blame or accountability of either partner.
- Works to shift perspective on the couple as a unit.
- May be too intrusive for some couples.
- Discussion of past trauma which may be overwhelming to some individuals.
5. Marriage-Friendly Therapy
This type of counseling can be – but does not have to be – religious. Unlike many practitioners, the therapist is not belief-neutral.
All individuals who provide this service strongly believe in the institution of marriage.
- This focus of marriage help is on maintaining a marriage if reasonably possible.
- It includes therapists with a spectrum of personal beliefs, but the emphasis is on supporting what the couple decides is best.
- It does not support individual counseling work for marital conflicts.
- Although some practitioners are religious, many are not, yet still maintain a strong belief in marriage if possible.
6. Narrative Method
This is a technique which helps couples separate the person from the conflicts. In understanding this perspective, the belief is that couples are better able to view various perspectives of issues and are then able to work through problems more easily.
- Improves objectivity and reduces emotional intensity towards conflicts.
- Helps couples use a storytelling method which may be less confrontational than other styles.
- May not be a good choice for couples who prefer a more direct style.
- May not work well with those who want to stress accountability or are more rigid in their beliefs.
7. Online Counseling Service
Allows couples to seek marriage help through phone, chat, video, email, and message boards. This style can help couples to feel more relaxed and private because it can take place outside of a practitioner’s office.
- Flexibility in scheduling and greater access to help.
- Higher level of privacy and comfort for many people.
- Unable to have an in-person meeting which some people prefer.
- May not have the same access to specific techniques that an in-person setting may offer.
8. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
This form of marriage help is based upon addressing attachment issues left over from childhood and adolescence in each partner. It is considered a short-term therapy with the therapist working with the couple through the nine steps involved in treatment.
- Couple may find their bond strengthening because of understanding past attachment issues in themselves and their partner
- This strategy is strongly supported by empirical work and is very supported for individuals diagnosed with depression
- Partners may not feel safe to do this type of couples counseling
- Couple may not see the connection between attachment issues and marital conflicts
9. Gottman Method
This work focuses on managing relationship conflicts rather than eliminating them.
- It is a realistic strategy that may appeal to those who want a straightforward method.
- This process helps to build trust and commitment to a long-term relationship.
- It may not be a good fit for those who want to stress personal accountability more than compromise.
- This may not be a viable option for those individuals who are rigid and wanting to leave the relationship.
10. Tailored Programs
These are meetings with your partner and other couples, typically guided by leaders over a very short period of time such as a weekend.
- Often great for identifying issues that have been the source of conflict.
- May help to move through a challenging time by connecting and learning from others
- Frequently inadequate for addressing deeply rooted issues.
- May be limited to those of a certain association or group.
Several factors come into play when deciding on the best marriage help. Are the problems in your marriage related to a recent event like an accident, death, bankruptcy, job loss, natural event or birth of a child? If so, you may find a lot of support from a tailored program like a retreat weekend or marriage seminar.
Are you a couple where faith is very important, yet you don’t want to go to your clergy? Working with a therapist who shares your faith may be a great fit when working out issues.
If you want to work on your marriage and you find yourselves very uncomfortable about sitting in front of a practitioner, you may want to consider online counseling. This would allow you both to work on the marriage with a bit more privacy.
In addition, it might also work out well for those who have very busy schedules.
Are the problems in your relationship more about the difficulty of talking and relating to each other more than undesirable behavior? In this case, you may want to consider Imago or Gottman therapy or a therapist who chooses to use the narrative technique.
By working with these methods, you would be able to manage conflict and understand each other in new ways which could lead to a deeper and more meaningful relationship.
Maybe you both feel frustrated but deeply value the sanctity of marriage if so, you may want to consider a therapist who is clearly marriage friendly. This option would also let you choose a therapist who shares your faith, or one that counsels from a perspective you know supports the institution of marriage as much as you do.
If you feel you and your partner are having conflict based upon issues related to your families, you might consider emotionally focused therapy. Going to a therapist with this perspective might be ideal if either of you live with depression or have a hard time bonding.
Although individual counseling can be very beneficial, it most likely will not give you what you need in terms of marriage help. Most therapists recommend that both partners commit to couples counseling even if they don’t feel very committed to the relationship.
Meeting together with a third party can often allow for an honest evaluation of the relationship and what needs to be the next step.
Family therapy is often to support a specific member of the family that needs the support of the rest of the members. For example, a family member who has a mental health concern or an addiction may need specialized treatment. As these members integrate back into the family, everyone needs to be part of the program so that family knows they are not to blame and understand the issue being treated.
Whether the issue is about various types of families, a specialized concern, or disruption among the members, family therapy is about working on having a positive interrelationship of family members.
Even professionals who deeply believe in marriage understand that no partner or family member should endure abuse. If anyone in the home feels unsafe, the situation has now escalated to an emergency. Many people lose their temper but that never excuses domestic violence of any type.
Resentments can build and over time a fairly mild situation can turn dangerous. If you are afraid, reach out for help. Domestic violence can bring up shame for both partners. Stop the cycle and get yourself safe.
Some couples never have physical violence in their home but, their home is definitely not emotionally safe. If you and your partner engage in belittling, manipulative behavior, the time for outside help is now. These are signs that your relationship is unhealthy.
Rather than looking for a counselor who will blame your partner, it is important to realize that both of you need help.
The best marriage help is the one that fits you and your partner best. Even if you are unsure about the marriage lasting, be sure to take measures that support both of you. At one point in your life, you chose this person. It would seem important that you honor that connection by working on your conflicts.
Sometimes marriage counseling can help to adapt to married life, other times it helps to give each of you a broader perspective. Something made you decide to get married. Are you willing to take a chance on getting the help you need?
Therapists can only do so much. The real work happens outside of the time with a therapist.