Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP
Why Go to Marriage Therapy or Couples Counseling? was written by future Psychologist, Brandon Araujo, for the D’Arienzo Psychological Group in October 2014. D’Arienzo Psychological Group is a Jacksonville, Florida based Clinical and Forensic Psychology Practice that specializes in couples counseling and marriage therapy. The therapy team consists of a psychologist, two clinical social workers, a mental health counselor, and an attorney. Please contact us today if you need assistance with your relationship or marriage. We will help you navigate through an affair, learn how to communicate, or enhance your connection.
Why Go to Marriage Therapy or Couples Counseling?
Say you have a small crack in your car windshield; over time as the car experiences rough roads and bumps the crack will grow until it eventually covers the entire windshield. As the crack grows, the more difficult it becomes to fix and eventually the entire windshield needs to be replaced. Marriages, in this sense, are very similar; any small cracks in a marriage (fights, financial struggles, family difficulties) will worsen with the impact of a larger event (birth of child, loss of a job, death of a family member), eventually causing the marriage to end. The longer the small problems in the marriage are ignored the harder they will be to fix in the future. With this being said why do we fix the small crack in our car windshield to prevent having to replace the whole thing but many couples will wait till they are on the brink of a divorce to fix their relationship (Ducanto, 2013).
For many people couples therapy has a stigma attached to it that is associated with failure and embarrassment. This stigma discourages many people from going even when they are on the verge of divorce. “Only about one fourth of divorcing couples report seeking professional help of any kind to improve their relationship and those who do wait an average of 6 years after serious problems develop to seek marital therapy” (Doss, Simpson, & Christensen, 2004). Also, only about 10% of married couples have sought relational help from professionals. So what reasons do these 10% of couples have that encourage them to seek counseling and what benefits do they gain from doing so?
Although the majority of couples who go to counseling are couples who are considering divorce, the most common reasons for seeking professional help are emotional affection and communication; divorce/separation concerns came in third (Doss, Simpson, & Christensen, 2004). This finding creates a theory explaining that if couples were to seek professional help regarding these relational attributes as soon as a problem arises that the rate of divorce would decrease dramatically. Some other reasons couples sought counseling are listed in order of most common to least common: arguments, concerns about children, sex life, personal problems, and trust issues.
The couples that are able to muster up enough courage to go to counseling experience priceless benefits. Research suggests that 75% of couples who received marriage counseling were better off than similar couples who did not. This is mainly due to partners learning how to effectively communicate with each other and understanding how to increase certain aspects of their relationship that are associated with high quality marriages; some of these include respect, genuineness, trust, support, and respect.
Huston discovered that many courtships do not last long enough to see marriage, because of this it may be wise to meet with a marriage counselor early on in the stage of courtship in order to discover each partner’s ideas and views of marriage. The most important thing to remember is that ignoring problems during courtship or marriage will only cause them to grow over time, leading to larger difficulties in the future.
Doss, B. D., Simpson, L. E., & Christensen, A. (2004). Why do couples seek
marital therapy? Professional Psychology, 35, 608–614.
Ducanto, J. N. (2013). Why Do Marriages Fail?. American Journal Of Family Law,
HUSTON, T. L. (2009). What’s love got to do with it? Why some marriages succeed and
others fail. Personal Relationships, 16(3), 301-327. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2009.01225.x
Contact D’Arienzo Psychological Group at 904-379-8094 or find us on the web at drdarienzo.com or www.livebetterjax.com for your couples therapy and couples counseling needs.