According to the latest statistics provided by the Institute of Psychology nearly 50% of first marriages end in divorce and that percentage rises for second (63%) and third (75%) marriages. The decision to seek marital therapy often comes at a difficult and sensitive time in a couple's relationship. A couple may be struggling with the stress of raising children, infidelity, substance abuse, or basic difficulties with communication.
The first one to two sessions with your therapist will be spent collecting information, identifying goals, and gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of the relationship. The therapist may wish to meet with both members of the relationship concurrently or may ask each partner to attend individual sessions. The therapist will also likely assign "homework" to the couple to be done outside of sessions. Working with a therapist will assist you in learning the skills to improve your relationship including improving communication, identifying problem solving skills, and learning ways to discuss differences in a fair and calm way. Through therapy each partner will think about and analyze both the good and bad parts of your relationship as you pinpoint and better understand the sources of conflict.
It can be difficult to talk about your relationship problems with a therapist. It is not uncommon for one partner to remain silent during sessions out of anger or even for arguments to occur. Sometimes one partner might refuse to attend marital counseling and while it is difficult to repair a relationship when only one person is willing to seek help, therapy with one partner can still be helpful to the overall health of the relationship. It is normal and okay for these things to happen. If there are other problems such as mental illness, substance abuse or other issues, a referral to a separate provider might be made to address this issues outside of marriage counseling.
Couples counseling is often short term. The number of sessions varies in length with some couples requiring only a few sessions and other couples benefitting from more long-term support. Making the decision to go to marriage counseling can be tough. If you have a troubled relationship, however, seeking help is more effective than ignoring your problems or hoping they get better on their own.
It is important that you and your partner feel comfortable and trust the therapist that you see. For this reason, if at any time you do not feel like the therapist is meeting the goals or expectations you have it is important to address this with your therapist. Having these conversations can be difficult and/ or uncomfortable but are vital in ensuring that you and your family are receiving the best treatment possible.