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Can Counseling Save Your Marriage?— I sort of feel like this is a loaded question. Asking if one single solitary act can save a marriage seems destined to fail from the get-go. The reality is there is no magic cure for an ailing marriage. And not only that, but also there is no one answer that suits all marriages. However with that said, counseling can do a great deal of things for an "on the rocks" marriage and the people involved in it.

It can most definitely:

  • Help both parties deal with their issues on an individual basis. It's not unusual for a couple to go to therapy together in couples' therapy, and then see the same counselor or another separate counselor, on their own as individuals
  • Create a dialogue about what issues exist in the marriage and if the two parties feel they are resolvable or not
  • Assist a person in deciding, once the problems are "on the table" if he or she wants to work hard to save the marriage

Yes. That's right. Work hard to save the marriage.

The reality is it is not counseling that saves a marriage, but the two people who are in it that do the "saving." Counseling is simply just a vital tool to help two people who have mutually decided to save the marriage, do just that! So if you want counseling to be successful there is really only one absolutely mandatory requirement.

You and your spouse must want to save your fumbling partnership!

That is the biggest battle in itself. So many couples enter counseling with one party eager to work on the marriage and the other, not emotionally invested in the slightest. Both parties have to want counseling to work. Most counselors will give you homework assignments and direction as to what needs to be changed between the two of you in order to find happiness again. A marriage can't save only on desire alone. Both of you must be willing to row the boat, together.

Ask yourself this question: "Is my partner willing to change? Am I willing to change?"

And further more, "Are the two of us ready to invest time and be patient, trusting in the counseling process?"

Counseling success in marriage and honestly, any type of counseling requires:

  • Time —Rome wasn't built in a day and your marriage didn't fail overnight. It happened over a series of days, weeks, months and most likely, years. Habits take time to break and build.
  • Belief —Do you both believe in the counseling process and in your counselor?
  • Good Therapist Fit —Did you two choose a therapist you both feel confident in and can trust?

The bottom line is in order to save a marriage, it's going to take investment of time, patience, willingness to change and a good counselor. This is frustrating as many individuals enter therapy dying to avoid divorce but only end up divorced because the other half wasn't as eager to make it better. There are many people who simply "attend" therapy briefly to appease a spouse, but don't have genuine interest in really making the marriage happen.

The long answer is yes, counseling can save your marriage but it can't make it work on its own. Only you know your own intentions and hopefully, feel fairly confident in your spouse's. If your spouse is pussyfooting around in therapy, it may not be worth wasting your time and money to save a marriage with a lazy partner. In your heart of hearts, I am sure you know how willing or not your partner is to get the two of you on the right path again.

Best of luck!


Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women's issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women's Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com .


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