Couples therapy has many benefits to it. It can allow a couple to work with an unbiased third party to help them work through some important issues. It can provide the opportunity to learn some simple tools and techniques to repair and strengthen their marriage. It can provide them a safe place to talk about things that they might not otherwise, without the safety of the room, and the support of a therapist. A couple’s therapist can even help you to negotiate an amicable and calm split from one another if this is what the couple Is needing. All these qualities are a wonderful tool for couples to utilize, but there are also many misconceptions that people have about what couples therapy is, or what it will be, and I would like to address some of those myths and misconceptions here.
Myth #1: Couples Therapy Will Almost Guarantee that you Will Work Things Out as a Couple
The fact of the matter is that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. It could be easily argued that couples who are entering couples work, are already teetering on the negative side of that line. They are going to couple’s therapy as either a last-ditch effort, or to try and fix some deeply difficult issues in their relationship. While two willing partners CAN work through almost anything, if they are both willing and share that common goal, simply entering couples therapy by no means increases the odds of staying together. There is hard work to be done, and the desire for a common goal.
Myth #2: The Couples Therapist is Finally Going to be Someone to Tell Your Partner Everything is Their Fault
A good marriage counselor maintains a healthy and ethical balance between each member of the couple. They help each person try and see the other persons point of view, and helps them to learn to communicate with each other in a way that is more functional. While they should not shy away from issues that are harming the other partner, and they should not encourage destructive behavior, the couple should ultimately feel like the therapist is in each of their corners.
Myth #3 Couples Therapy Will be Just as Effective if Only One Partner Wants to Go
While it is true, that the more reluctant member of the couple can come around, and start to engage in therapy in a meaningful way, forcing someone who adamantly does not want to go to therapy may not be beneficial. If a person is strongly against going, you need to find out why. It could be that they have already made up their mind that the marriage is over. It might be that they have certain perceptions of therapy. It could be that they are still currently engaged in an affair. All three of these reasons are not a recipe for success, and you need to be willing to discuss the resistance, and If it is something that can be overcome.
Myth #4 There is No Point to Going to a Therapist, If We are Certain we are Divorcing
This could not be further from the truth. In many to most cases, people are too hurt and angry to navigate the dissolution of their marriage in the least contentious way possible. If there are assets, children, and mutual relationships they share, it can be even more important. A therapist can help the couple move past their anger, focus on what matters, and get to the heart of what each person really wants and needs. They can point out when things are getting off topic, getting vindictive, and working against the best interest of all members of the family. By identifying what is truly important to each person, what is in the best interest of the children, and what and why they want to leave the relationship with certain assets, they can better understand each other, and hopefully end the relationship on healthier footing.
Hopefully this has clarified the many things that marital therapy is, as well as the misconceptions of things it is not. Going in with correct expectations helps each person to get the most out of the experience, and allows the therapist to be the most supportive and productive they can be for you. Having this unbiased third party in any of these situations is a positive tool, and is one that you should explore utilizing.