Did Marriage Counseling Fail You, or Vice-Versa?

Did Marriage Counseling Fail You, or Vice-Versa?

Marriage counselors and couples’ therapists deserve all the respect in the world for what they have to deal with day by day. They try their hardest to help couples work things out. Yet when counseling proves unfruitful, they take the blame. It is not uncommon for their clients to say that marriage counseling failed them.

If you have attempted marriage counseling to no avail, here is a question for you: did marriage counseling fail you, or vice-versa? You see, counseling is just a tool. It cannot do anything in and of itself. Like any other tool, the way counseling is used ultimately determines its effectiveness.

Like a Hammer in a Toolbox

Think of marriage counseling as a hammer in a toolbox. Use that hammer for its intended purpose, and in the way it was designed to be used and you will have success every time. Go outside those parameters and your results will not be so favorable.

For example, try hammering a screw into place. You can swing the hammer all day long and you will not get the desired results. Why? Because the hammer is not a screwdriver, and the screw is not a nail. You’re attempting to use the tool in a way, and for a purpose, that was never intended.

Marriage counseling works the same way. It is designed to achieve certain goals. It must be utilized in specific ways in order to be effective. Use it improperly, or for a purpose for which it was never intended, and your results will not be what you had hoped for.

Counselors Are Just People

A big mistake people in marriage counseling make is assuming that their counselors have all the answers. They go into counseling sessions expecting to hear quick and easy solutions to their problems. They expect their counselors to tell them exactly what to do from A to Z. When that doesn’t happen, they assume that counseling failed them.

The marriage counselors at Rye, NY’s Relationships & More remind clients that they are just people. They cannot read minds or control emotions. They do not have a list of five easy steps that guarantee broken relationships will be made whole.

Success Requires Ownership

Relationships & More therapists say that fixing broken relationships requires taking ownership of them. Unfortunately, it is far too common for bickering spouses to blame each other exclusively. The husband will maintain that all of their problems are the wife’s fault. She will return the favor with similar complaints.

Though there are exceptions to the rule, most broken marriages get to that point by way of a combined effort. Both husband and wife have contributed to the mess they now find themselves in. If they are going to fix it, both have to take ownership of their separate contributions.

Limited Participation Yields Limited Results

Couples’ therapists can be very creative in terms of helping their clients identify what’s really going on in their relationships. For example, a therapist might give a couple homework exercises designed to reveal something about the relationship they have yet to recognize. The exercises will only succeed if both fully participate.

Therein lies another big reason marriage counseling fails. If one or both are not willing to give the fullest effort, their chances of fixing the relationship go way down. When that happens, it is not counseling that failed.

Neither marriage counseling nor couples’ therapy guarantees a broken marriage will be fixed. But it’s also not appropriate to automatically blame counseling sessions or therapists for failing. More often than not, failure rests with couples unwilling to do what it takes to solve their problems.

Jacques Bedard