marriage-counselor

Every couple has a story behind their decision to divorce. I’ve listened to lots of them after more than 30 years of working with couples. Some of their reasons for divorce are things you’d expect to hear. Things like cheating, lack of commitment, money issues, or too much conflict are common. Sometimes it’s the stress of caring for special-needs children, losing a child, and addiction or physical abuse.* 

But some reasons might catch you off-guard. 

Sometimes one partner’s health issues become too overwhelming. Or a couple is still in love, but the medical bills are draining their life savings. Divorce allows them to manage the financial burden. 

Many couples say they just can’t do it anymore. They say they have done all they know to do. 

Many couples cite disconnectedness even though they love but are not “in love” with their spouse anymore.

And don’t forget the in-laws without boundaries. That’s a whole other reason. 

If you’re considering divorce, it’s essential that you think about a few things. 

Maybe you’ve tried everything you know to change your relationship, but nothing has worked. That doesn’t mean you have tried everything

Marriage intensives, one-day experiences for couples experiencing distress, and phone coaching have excellent success rates.

One couple tried everything they knew to try, then told their pastor they were calling it quits. He asked them if they would be willing to try one more thing: a class for couples in distress. They reluctantly agreed. But as a result, they tore up their divorce papers and never looked back. 

They know now that they needed information, tools, and a different perspective on how to get out of the ditch they were in. They’re now empty-nesters, and their marriage is thriving. They have no regrets.

Let’s talk about counseling. 

Just because someone is a “marriage and family therapist” or “counselor,” it doesn’t mean they are for your marriage. In fact, most marital therapists are trained to remain nondirective or neutral.

If you’re going to look for a counselor, you’ll want to find one whose goal is to help you save your marriage, if possible. 

These tips can help you do that.

  • Before setting up a session, ask questions. Make sure the counselor wants to help you make the marriage mutually fulfilling.
  • Ask to schedule a 10-15 minute phone interview. If the counselor is unwilling to have a phone conversation, take them off your list.
  • During the interview, ask:
    1. What’s your goal for our marriage? (Answer: To help you both achieve marital fulfillment and save your marriage).
    2. What are your credentials? How many years of marriage counseling experience do you have? (A graduate degree in mental health is what you’re after. (Master’s or Doctorate in Psychology or Social Work, with clinical supervision in marriage counseling)
    3. Briefly explain your issue. Then ask about the counselor’s experience helping couples overcome that problem. Ask for their success rate in dealing with your particular issue. (Look for a more than 75% success rate.)
    4. After you both speak to potential counselors, choose the one you feel most comfortable with as a couple. Then set up your first appointment.

Every marriage goes through challenging seasons.

If you’re unhappy in your marriage, who you spend time with matters because the people you allow to speak into your marriage can help or hurt. People can be sincere in what they say but totally wrong in the advice they give. If you hang out with recently divorced people, those who are dissatisfied in their marriage, or unhappy people, it can increase your risk for dissatisfaction. This can lead you to believe divorce is your only/best option, even if it isn’t.

Not every love story has a happy ending, but it’s way more likely if you can find someone to help you work through your issues and guide you along the way.

*If abuse is an issue in your marriage, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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  1. Shaylee Packer
    Shaylee Packer says:

    I never thought to schedule a phone interview with a counselor before you meet with them for the first time. In doing this, you can make sure they are on the same page as you, and will help you reach the goals you are intending with therapy. My sister and her husband are struggling in their marriage and aren’t sure what the next step is. I will have to mention marriage counseling and see what they think.

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