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How To Save Your Marriage: 7 Tips To Succeed At Therapy

Posted by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM
  • 5 Replies

How To Save Your Marriage: 7 Tips To Succeed At Therapy


How To Save Your Marriage: 7 Tips To Succeed At Couples Therapy
Don't wait til it's too late! Most couples wait six years before getting outside help.

Ask yourself: What are you willing to do to salvage your relationship?

Another relationship bites the dust. It's an occupational hazard for a couples therapist, but still, it's always sad. Despite my best efforts to help people negotiate the choppy waters of relationship distress, many of them simply don't make it.

It goes something like this: A distressed husband or wife pleads on the phone, "I am calling for couples counseling. We have a problem with communication." So, we set an appointment and begin the process. The specific problems are wide-ranging and many of them have gone unresolved for months, even years. So why can't they make it work? Therapy can save your marriage, but you have to be prepared. Here are my tips for couples to come out of counseling sessions successfully.

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1. Do some indepth soul-searching before you begin. Do you want to fight for this relationship even when it is painful, challenges you and is profoundly uncomfortable? Know that it will be difficult.

2. Don't wait too long. Most couples come to therapy six years later than is ideal, so the clean-up effort is difficult. Even still, it is worth a serious try. So go for it! Jump right in and give it all you have. Here are some things you can do to be a wise consumer of couples therapy.

3. Find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Interview three or four before you make a decision. (Specifically, read FAQ in the blog section at my website.) You are going to be taking a journey together. Choose someone you trust and then listen to them.

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4. Find out if your therapist has bias towards or against marriage. You will ultimately make the decision to stay in or leave your relationship, but you are going to be influenced by the biases of this person. So make sure you are choosing biases that fit with yours. Your therapist may have a big impact on this major life choice.

5. Set boundaries with your friends. Ask them to support you in a way that is truly supportive and sometimes, that means respecting your privacy. Tell them that it is not helpful for them to give you a list of reasons why you are better off without him. They will not be there to warm the bed at night when this is all over.

6. Tell your therapist whether you want to stay together or break up. If you want to end the relationship as you start therapy, tell your therapist. This will redefine "successful therapy" and improve your chances of being successful. Then, you will work to end a relationship well, rather than to repair and continue the relationship. You can still tell your friends and family you tried couples counseling, but you will avoid a great deal of frustration for you, your partner and the therapist.

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7. Know that it is valid to go to therapy if you are 99 percent sure you want to end your relationship. This means that a tiny part of you is open to the possibility of changes that might come as a result of good intervention. There will be plenty of time for divorce and all it entails if you shift to 100 percent certainty. For now, you need to stay open to the process and new possibilities.

If you are calling a couples therapist, chances are pretty good that you have lived for some time without the deeply satisfying comfort of a secure, respectful, attached relationship. In good therapy, you will have glimpses of that experience very early on. You'll be taken aback by the unexpected emotions, but remember this: Intimacy is what you say you want. Intimacy is good for your soul. It is a noble desire to want to love and be loved deeply.

Romantic relationships are a bit like sky-diving. You have to do the work and prepare yourself for the moment of freefall. Then you have to jump out of the plane, pull the ripcord and trust. You can't have the joy and the rush if you aren't willing to have that moment when you are not absolutely certain your parachute will open.

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In sum, ask yourself: Do I really want to fly? If the answer is "yes," do the work earnestly and wholeheartedly. Then, take breath and jump out of the plane!

Are you currently in therapy for your troubled marriage? Do you need to be?

by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM
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by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM
We're in therapy and we have a great marriage. We're not waiting until it's broken to fix it. We both have a lot of baggage and issues from previous relationships and choices. We want someone to to be objective with both of us. We started counseling 5 months in to our dating relationship.
by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM

 I have to say I think therapy should make you uncomfortable. I've always had therapists I could trust but not all of them made me comfortable and that's great!

by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:03 PM
We are on therapy, not for the first time. We have been happy and in love for 25 years but we have struggles. Right now i need him to find more balance. He works too much. He needs me to not be so moody (in my defense I'm pregnant lol) . We do not want a divorce and we tell each other we are forever everyday. Therapy isnt just to save a failing marriage. I see it as getting a regular tune up rather than waiting for it to break down.
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:07 PM
We are not currently in therapy, but we have been in couples therapy. We've seen two different therapists. One helped us more than the other one.

I agree, it is important to find someone that can have a good rapport with each of you. Some therapists are better than others at not being biased towards one specific member of the couple. If you need to see someone, it is important to have someone neutral that will help you to understand each other. Someone that will help you both work as a team is best, IMO.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so a good therapist will help your each work on the qualities that need work, but also help you to see what is already working in your relationship.

I think therapy can be very helpful. I'm glad my husband and I made the decision to attend counseling. I wish we had tried it earlier in our marriage. We are doing well now, though we still have difficulties sometimes. We had some really rough times for a while, though, and it was useful to have someone help us sort all of our differences out.
by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:15 PM
We have never been in therapy. We aren't on the verge of divorce or anything but we could use therapy i think. We both have lots of issues. But he's not really open to the idea :-/
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