Q: My wife wants us to go to marriage counseling. I'm not so sure it's a good thing. Many of my friends have gone, and all they did was fight more and get divorced. I don't want a divorce, and neither does she. What should I do?
A. If your wife wants you to go to marriage counseling with her, by all means, go. It's much less expensive than divorce, and when done right it can save your marriage and even make it better.
There is some thinking that traditional marriage counseling can be dangerous to your marital health.
In a 1999 presentation to the SmartMarriages Conference, entitled "How Therapy Can Be Hazardous to Your Marital Health" William Doherty pointed out that "according to a national survey, 80 percent of all private practice therapists in the U.S. say they do marital therapy. And only 12 percent of them are in a profession that requires even one course or any supervised experience."
His point was that most therapist are trained to help individual focus on themselves and their own growth. This is good to a point of course. But if overdone, you can focus on yourself at the expense of the marriage.
So here are some questions to ask a potential therapist:
- What is your attitude toward salvaging a marriage versus helping couples break up? If the therapist claims neutrality or to help people not marriages, run.
- What is your background and training in couples therapy? If the therapist is self caught or workshop trained and can't point to a significan education in this work, consider going to someone else.
- I would also ask if the therapist has ever been through therapy. I believe that if you are going to do it, you need to have been through it.
You can read the entire transcript of Doherty's speech at SmartMarriages.org
The bottom line is:
Yes, go to marriage counseling with yor wife, but go with your head up, knowing what you are getting into.
Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.
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