Every married couple goes through rough patches every so often, but when the rough patch feels more like an endless, weed-grown field of suffering, unhappiness and anger…well that’s something different. There are several things you can do when you get to this point in life, and what you’ll read below will probably surprise you.
Your Marriage Has Hit Bottom: What Can You Do?
As more than half of married couples can tell you, marriage is like a rocky boat sailing on rough seas with no chart plotter, no navigation system, and not even a compass. There’s nobody to tell you how to work your way through problems, nobody to guide you across the tricky terrain of stress, struggle and serious problems.
It’s no wonder that so many couples decide to throw in the towel and just get divorced. It often seems easier than trying to sort things out. How can you save your marriage, rather than simply giving up?
You Don’t Have to Give Up On Your Marriage
The first step to saving a marriage is to believe that it’s possible. You wouldn’t know it from skyrocketing divorce rates, but there’s a way to save most marriages and avoid breaking up forever. Even experts agree- and a growing number of struggling couples can attest to the fact that yes, you can save a marriage if you’re willing to delve a little deeper into what’s causing all your marital issues in the first place.
“Most marriages can be healed and can grow”.- Dr. Michael Zentman, Director of the Adelphi University Post Graduate program for Marriage and Couples Therapy
The next step is to forget much of what you’ve been told about how marriage counselors can save a marriage because it’s misguided and it simply doesn’t work. That comes as a huge surprise to most couples, who consider marriage counseling to the the only hope for a marriage that’s in trouble.
Why Marriage Counseling Usually Doesn’t Work
There are two main reasons why marriage counseling usually doesn’t work to save a marriage:
- By the time couples decide to enter counseling, it’s too late anyway.
- Most so-called marriage counselors aren’t even qualified to practice in this area to begin with.
You see, marriage counseling is an extremely difficult field of practice. It’s also the most feared, the most challenging and often the most dreaded area of psychotherapy. Not only that, but most therapists aren’t even trained to deal with couples.
Marital therapy isn’t required for a degree. Rather, most therapists trained as individual therapists, which is a whole different ballgame. Most are trained in achieving happiness for the individual, which may or may not coincide with happiness for “the couple”.
What works for individuals can backfire for couples.
However, it’s lucrative and in-demand so most therapists offer marriage counseling services whether they’re trained or not. In fact, about 80% of private practice therapists offer couples therapy. What this means for you is that if and when you seek couples therapy, there’s a pretty high probability that you’re going to end up with someone who has very little idea of how to help you save your marriage.
About the Other 20% of Marriage Counselors…
By the way, even those therapists who are trained in couples therapy may not do you any good, either. There’s more and more evidence that many couples emerge from marriage counseling worse off than when they entered! Sadly, a mere two years after marriage counseling, 38% of couples will get divorced anyway.
That’s a pretty terrible success rate. What are the 20% who have some sort of training doing wrong? For starters, they’re treating couples like individuals. Simply applying techniques and methods devised to work on individuals will not work on couples. What they’re doing is working from all the wrong assumptions.
One misguided notion is that marriages fail because of a breakdown in communication. Bad communication is only a symptom, however. What needs to happen is the cause of a broken marriage must be discovered so that the couple can fix that problem.
When inexperienced marriage counselors attempt to mend broken marriages, everyone loses. The result is that the therapist gives up and there goes the marriage. It’s an irony that’s not lost on most couples seeking help.
They come to a so-called “professional” literally asking “How can we save our marriage?” and end up being told not to bother and seek individual happiness instead.
So the Question Remains: “How Can You Save Your Marriage?”
Simply by holding firm to the idea that most marriages can be saved, and that most marriage counselors can’t help you, you’re already a few steps closer to saving your marriage.
Believing in your marriage helps, but you still need a little help with the details. If you don’t happen to live near one of the rare few therapists who actually know what they’re doing with couples therapy, that’s really not a problem. Many marriages survive a breakdown without seeing a professional at all.
In fact, given what you know now, you may even be better off taking matters into your own hands! Even experts will tell you that self-help systems are actually a safer bet, since they’re going to be written by people who know something about saving marriages.
Take Save The Marriage, for example, a book written by Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D. that’s part of a system for bringing couples back together.
In his book and audio components, Dr. Baucom talks about all the things mentioned above, plus a lot more on how couples should never give up, plus topics like why so-called “hard work” on a relationship isn’t usually what’s required, and why arguing is a total waste of time.
Modules build on each other for a system that’s powerful, effective and completely in line with everything you’ve read here so far.
Sidebar: I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Baucom and he shared some very helpful and insightful information about how couples can go about restoring their marriages. Go here to read the full interview.
So how about you: have you had experience with a marriage counselor, and if so, what did you think?