Reasons Marriage Counseling will not help you

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are there reasons to avoid Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling can save your marriage. It can also hasten the end to that relationship. I see many couples who have used marriage counseling to strengthen and improve their relationship. There are also those couples, up to half of all couples who attend couples counseling, who end up divorcing soon after the marriage counseling experience.

How can you tell if you are one of those couples that can be helped by marriage counseling or if you are one of those couples were attending a counseling session might end your relationship?

Here are reasons some people need to avoid marriage counseling.

1. You want the Marriage Counselor to decide who is right and who is wrong.

Specifically, you want the therapist to tell your partner that they are the one causing the problem.

If you want a right and wrong decision, see a judge for the divorce. Couplehood is a partnership. To be effective the counselor needs to stay neutral and rather than solving problems for you, they need to help you learn ways to resolve these disagreements in a more positive way.

2. You want the counselor to change your partner.

Change is an inside job. Changing a relationship requires the people involved to each work on changing themselves.

3. You have already decided to divorce and you want to prove that you did all you can to save the marriage.

A significant number of clients come to the first therapy session already having decided that they want a divorce. They want to be able to say to their friends and family that they did all they could. The truth is they didn’t want to fix or save this relationship.

If you already have your stuff packed and plan to move on no matter what happens in therapy, going for marriage counseling is just one more trial that you will need to get over to start your new life.

Counseling can be helpful when both parties know that this is coming and they are trying to work out some end of relationship issues, like co-parenting.

Counselors can and do work in the area of divorce counseling. But before you turn your marriage counseling session into negotiating a divorce talk to the lawyer types first.

4. You are making your partner go so you can punish them for their misdeeds.

The couple shows up for counseling often at the insistence of one partner who has demanded that they attend counseling as a condition of staying together. This can work if both parties are committed to changing themselves and things in their relationship.

What will not work is to inflict X sessions of therapy in which one partner beats the other up over the “guilty” person’s transgressions.

If there was an affair you can work on the reasons it happened in the first place or how to rebuild the relationship and trust. What is not helpful is just to use counseling as a way to flog the affair partner for their misdeeds.

An ordeal in the therapy room results in more resentments in the relationship and addition problems in the future.

5. You expect everything to happen in the sessions and are opposed to doing any “homework” outside of sessions.

Relationships need maintenance. Sometimes in sessions, you can get some of the “garbage” out. You can also learn some new ideal relationship skills.

What you are likely to hear in the couples counseling session is that relationships take work. You need to make repair efforts when things go wrong and there is work to do to maintain a relationship.

Expect that your convalescent period for an ailing relationship will include homework and skills practice you need to do outside the counseling session.

A good marriage counselor will make suggestions and may well suggest some homework assignments outside of session. Do not expect your therapist to do all the work. You need to practice good relationship skills between sessions.

6. There are topics that are off-limits and you are unwilling to talk about.

Couples come to therapy saying they have poor “communication” and they want to learn to communicate better. The next part of this conversation is that there are topics they do not want to talk about.

Some topics probably should be off the table. You like coffee and your partner is a tea drinker. You can share and each try the others beverage or you can fight forever over who is right. Some disagreements have no resolution and it is a waste of time to continue to fight over things for which there is no solution.

The off the table topics that cause relationship counseling to be unproductive are the big issues that stand in the way of having a good relationship.

Additions, drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, pornography, those things undermine any relationship. So you come to couples counseling and say you want to communicate better, only he won’t talk about his drinking and she won’t discuss her affair.

Is this situation likely to get better? Not unless the unresolved issues get handled. That resolution could be he stops drinking or tries to anyway. It could also be that she just has to accept she married an alcoholic and accept that if she wants to stay married. Either way, the topic can’t be off the table if they want this relationship to get better.

7. You expect your partner to do all the work and make all the changes.

A relationship involves people, more than one, so any real change in your relationship will involve both of you making changes. If you think that your partner changing will solve all the problems consider that each year we see a great many people who divorce and remarry.

Before long those new relationships are fighting and there may be second, and third divorces.

Pick a partner and you get a set of problems. Learn problem-solving in your relationship, not problem switching.

8. Your relationship is not worth the cost of marriage counseling.

Marriage counseling is often not covered by insurance. If you are mentally ill your medical insurance should cover treatment. But if you are unhappy do not expect the insurance company to pay for dating services or marriage counseling.

A lot of people who spend a great amount of time complaining about their relationship are unwilling to spend money to work through their conflicts.

Before you say you can’t afford couples counseling, consider that the average couples come in about six times. The cost of six or even twelve sessions with most therapists would not equal the cost of the retainer for the divorce lawyer.

How much is it worth to you to end your relationship? How much might it be worth to transform the relationship you have into the one you would like?

9. You already have a replacement partner lined up.

If you already have a new partner waiting in the wings. Not much rational thinking takes place in the early stages of love. After six to eighteen months the love neurochemicals wear off. At that point, you will discover that this new partner is a lot less perfect than you thought. But while you are in the throes of a new love it is hard to see the good things you are leaving behind.

If you can’t give yourself a year or two to try to work out the problems in the current relationship – well then you will get to do the work later.

Marriage or relationship counseling can be very helpful in transforming a relationship into the one you want. But if you go into relationship counseling with any of the 9 problems listed above your are not likely to get much help from being in couples therapy and the therapy may well leave you with one extra “relationship trauma” to deal with after your relationship ends.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Does an affair mean you should divorce?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Divorce.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

7 things you need to know if you stay together after an affair.

One partner has had an affair, should you divorce? Should you stay and try to work it out?

Here are some of the things that you need to think about, talk about and work through in counseling before you decide whether to stay together or separate.

1. Do you and your partner share any common values, goals, and interests?

What do you have in common other than having been sexual partners?

Having common values and goals for your life is a great predictor of long-term compatibility. In the first intoxicating insanity of love, we often do not ask questions about the values that underlie our potential partner’s desires and dreams.

No matter how hard you try to support your partner’s dreams and goals if you have different values the results are uncertain.

Any couple should expect to have tough times. Affairs are one of the toughest. So are deaths in the family, particularly the death of a child. Addictions are another severe crisis.

When a couple is thinking about the decision to stay together or part ways, now is the time to have those discussions about your values. That discussion can bring you closer together or help you make the decision that this relationship is not salvageable.

2. How will you feel about yourself if you stay?

What does it mean to you if you go?

The first few weeks after the discovery of an affair you may be asking yourself all sorts of questions about you. How did you make this mistake, is it your fault that the partner cheated.

This is a time to get in touch with yourself. Some people can never forgive or forget. This is an especially difficult problem for those who have been the victim of abuse or neglect in the past. If you already had “trust issues” this crisis may be beyond your ability to accept.

Think this through carefully. If you can feel good about yourself for the decision to stay, then give this a chance. If you feel you can never forgive yourself for letting them get away with this then your own mental health may demand that you leave.

3. How will you feel about being alone?

Are you likely to get into another relationship to fill that void? If you do start a new relationship they will have a sexual and relational past.

Being alone can be a scary situation. If you are fearful about that think carefully about your ability to stay single for any length of time after you end up separating.

Each partner you pick will come with a past. People fresh out of a relationship, those who are afraid to be alone, are at extra risk to start a relationship with a person who has their own set of problems and their own emotional baggage.

If you have a lot of time invested in a relationship, be careful that you do not leave one partner because they had an affair only to enter a new relationship with someone who is single because of their affair.

There are reasons why people are single. Think about what attracted you to this certain partner. Will those same things be attractive in a new partner? What are the chances that you will pick a new partner that may cheat or have an undesirable sexual past?

4. Did you contribute to this in any way?

Will you change or will you pick a new partner and go through this again next time? If you had a role in these problems, say you did not have those discussions about problems with your partner before they started the affair you will probably contribute to the same sort of problems with the next partner.

It takes two healthy people to have a healthy relationship. If you are healthy and both you and your partner are willing to work on mending this breach, you have a good chance of ending up with a great relationship. If only you will stay and do the work.

5. Is he or she reliable in other ways or is this part of their pattern of being unreliable.

If this is the only significant problem in your relationship then it may well be mendable. If this partner has a history of not coming through when you need them, they are not likely to change just because you know about the affair.

6. Besides being lovers, were you two really life partners.

If you have things in common, you like the same things, have the same hobbies and want the same things out of life, consider staying together and mending the problems in the partnership.

If the only thing you had in common was the sexual part or if the emotional closeness you had is gone and neither of you is willing to do the work to get it back, then the chances are good that you will never be life partners.

Two people living separate lives under the same roof is not much to settle for.

7 What other serious problems does your partner have?

If your partner has other serious problems, addiction, alcoholism or gambling, an affair could be the smallest part of the problems you will have to face. Criminal lifestyles can sweep you up. So can most any other addiction.

All of these are things to consider before making your decision to stay or go. It can help to talk this through with a Marriage Counselor or trusted advisor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Internet affairs? Internet addiction?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Computer

Internet addiction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Internet affairs? Internet addiction?

The internet is affecting a lot of real-life relationships. Today’s post over at our sister blog counselorfresno.com tells the story of three ways your internet usage may doom your other relationships.

This post is part of a series of posts written for clients of my Counseling and Therapy practice here in Fresno California But I thought it was worth sharing with the rest of you.