Prospective clients often ask whether marriage therapy works. My answer is always the same: Yes, if you come in soon enough and are both committed to the therapy process. One person changing their attitudes and behaviors can have a big impact, but treatment is most successful when both people come to the marriage therapist with an open mind and heart.
Problems in intimate relationship are complicated. What may seem like a desire or performance problem in the bedroom may actually have layers of guilt, shame or anger underneath. And these issues rarely disappear on their own. In fact, resentments build over time and can affect every part of the marriage.
In marriage counseling, you learn how to communicate more productively, solve conflicts quicker and rebuild emotional intimacy.
Once the therapist gets a clear grasp of your issues, they will create a treatment plan with home exercises for practicing interacting with more kindness, understanding and affection.
Why Sooner is Better
Waiting to get help prolongs the misery. Things may get so bad, one or both partners may become ready to throw in the towel. Even if they agree to therapy as a last-ditch effort at this point, their heart will not be in it. They have already checked out.
With any physical injury, prompt assessment is always the first step toward healing. The same holds true for relationships: if there is an emotional wound, quickly figuring out what caused it prevents the problem from growing and causing irreparable harm.
The best time to seek help is when you first notice a problem. If talking it over doesn’t change anything, a marriage counselor can be of tremendous help.
Almost all marriages run into hiccups from time to time. Some clients even come in for regular “tune-ups” to head off potential difficulties.
We are all creatures of habit. It takes weeks to build new habits, but only a day or so to slide back into entrenched, destructive ones with short-term payoffs.
How Long Does Therapy Last?
If both people in the couple are clear about what they want therapy to accomplish, and willing to do the required work, it can take as little as 3-4 sessions.
On the other hand, if the issues are vague, there are a number of issues to work through, or one partner is reluctant to make changes, it is not abnormal for marital therapy to last several months.