Can Marriage Counseling Save a Marriage? The Answer Lies within You

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerOften when there is a hint that a marriage may be heading toward divorce, one or both spouses may suggest several sessions with a marriage counselor. For better or worse, working with a marriage counselor may be advantageous but some experts hold a different position as to the benefits of this type of counseling and how it affects the marriage overall.

Studies on the benefits of marriage counseling, dating as far back as 1987 with numerous studies conducted in decades thereafter, suggested that although couples retained most of what they learned through counseling only experienced improvements in the marriage for up to one year and with multiple relapses, ultimately leading to divorce.

To delve further into the question of if marriage counseling can save or hinder a marriage, licensed marriage and family therapist Marianne Clyde of the Marianne Clyde Center for holistic psychotherapy expressed her views. Clyde’s answer to the question of the benefits of marriage counseling is simple, it all depends.

Through years of counseling married couples, Clyde believes that if each spouse is open to working on the marriage, is coachable and willing to own their share of responsibility, then marriage counseling may prove a positive experience.

Following are excerpts of Clyde’s professional formula for increasing the success rate of marriage counseling.

Define Specific Goals

  • What exactly do you want from your spouse?
  • How do the children and their behavior affect the marriage?
  • Is your partner completely on board?
  • What changes do you want your spouse to make?

Define Specific Needs

  • Clarify and voice your needs in a way your spouse will understand;
  • Minimize “global” arguing by zeroing in on a specific discrepancy; and
  • Be open to compromise.

Define Communication Standards

  • Voice your concerns in a clear and concise manner;
  • Control the emotions tied to the situation and
  • Clear communication defuncts emotionally charged discussions.

Define Troubling Behaviors

  • Acknowledge and claim your triggers;
  • Accept constructive criticism; and
  • Be open to change.

Define the Relationship

  • Recall the reason you chose your spouse in the first place;
  • Appreciate and acknowledge what your spouse does well; and
  • Accept your shortcomings.

Define a New Perspective

  • Accept unbiased third party observations;
  • Really listen to your communication patterns; and
  • Delete the petty wants and needs and concentrate on what is most important.

So does marriage counseling save marriages? Clyde concludes that if each partner clearly communicates their wants and needs as well as being able to accept third party observations and suggestions, couples may be able to move past their differences to rekindle their compassion for one another.

If you and your spouse recently tried marriage counseling but were unable to reach a new perspective on the marriage, the experienced Hinsdale divorce attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio can help. Contact us at 630-920-8855 to schedule your free consultation today.


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