Couples who are experiencing a tough time or even considering divorce are usually encouraged to first try marriage counseling. After all, it works well for the majority of couples committed to giving it a fair chance. Here’s what struggling married couples should know about marriage counseling before they decide whether to talk to a divorce lawyer.
In general, statistics tend to show that marriage counseling works around 70 percent of the time. This high degree of success is primarily due to the fact that many couples considering divorce simply need a mediator (in the form of a counselor) to help them resume effective communication.
The counselor usually interviews the couple individually and then creates a treatment plan based on the couple’s main areas of difficulty. Most couples can expect to get about 12 treatment sessions, although it’s often apparent whether counseling will work after about six meetings. Either way, couples should go through the entire treatment plan before making a decision on whether to call a divorce lawyer or try staying together.
Unfortunately, plenty of couples who go through marriage counseling end up divorcing anyway. The average couple seeking counseling already has a few problems within the marriage, and some of these problems cannot be resolved or ignored. In fact, some couples merely get counseling as a precursor to divorce, simply because they were advised to do so even though both are ready to end the marriage.
In situations where one or both partners know they want a divorce, counseling will likely not work. There are other issues that can lead to the same conclusion. For instance, counseling probably won’t help if one spouse has an addiction that he or she refuses to treat or even acknowledge. The same goes for relationships where one person is verbally or physically abusing the other. Plus, some counselors just aren’t a good fit, either because they are not qualified or because they haven’t found an effective way to help the couple.
Couples going into counseling with the hope of achieving a happier marriage should pay attention to several factors. The first one is not delaying marriage counseling: the average couple in counseling has sought it about six years too late, because that’s how long the marital problems have gone on. Couples should get counseling as soon as they realize they can’t solve their issues on their own, hopefully before they’re seriously considering divorce.
In addition, both people must want the same result, which is to stay together in a happy marriage, and they have to realize that counseling may be necessary for this outcome. Once they agree to go to counseling, they both need to be committed to it. This means they should be willing to listen, apologize and even admit they may be wrong on some issues within the marriage.
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