How Successful is Marriage Counseling and Who Fails?

There is a lot of crazy information online about marriage and marriage therapy. If you look at real couples, and real data, it's very clear:

Marriage counseling works most of the time if both people are committed to the marriage.

And in our view it works better when you go to someone who is optimistic about marriage recovering from hard times (vs being neutral or pessimistic), skilled (training and advanced knowledge of the couples therapy profession), and has the experience, developed over time, of seeing every type of couple over and over and having positive outcomes with these couples.

Truth be told a lot of "bad marriage therapy" is done by people who may be great for other problems but simply lack of knowledge of complex marital problems and how personal issues intertwine with marriage issues. They don't have the skill set that comes from years of focused work with couples on how to create traction for change on tough problems. They give up too easily.  A great couples therapist has tons of knowledge, skill--and hope that spring can come after a long, rough winter.

However, if commitment ambivalence is strong, marriage counseling is not necessarily the best next step because it assumes you both have the energy and motivation to work hard on strengthening the relationship. No matter what anyone claims on the internet... the research is very clear.

Seventy percent of all couples who seek marriage counseling report improvements.

We aren't magicians - you both have to come with energy and motivation, but without a doubt if you both have those qualities, you are in good hands in a marriage therapists office.If you or your spouse aren't sure you want to be married, marriage counseling can be a frustrating experience for all involved.

Discernment Counseling is designed for any couple in this situation... where one person isn't sure they want to be in the marriage. (Most often the other person very much wants to save the marriage. If you are both uncertain that's fine too for Discernment Counseling.)

Learn more here about Discernment Counseling.

Cheating is intense, but it's a "common cold" for marriage counselors. We've helped so many couples come out the other side that it's really not something we secretly think, "uh oh. I am not sure if this couple can make it."

In fact having an affair has no greater or worse chance of marriage therapy working then any other reason couples come in.


Considering Divorce vs. Attempting Couples Therapy?