What to Do When Marriage Counseling Doesn’t Work

Despite the money, the time and emotional effort you’ve invested in marriage counseling, it doesn’t seem to work. It feels like the last hope of saving your marriage is gone and you are stuck in a dead end street.

marriage counseling
What to do when marriage counseling doesn’t work? And is couples-counseling the kiss of death for a troubled marriage?

If marriage counseling doesn’t work for you, or even made things worse in your relationship, you are far from being alone.

A recent survey, conducted by the Marriage Sherpa website, interviewed no less than 120,000 couples with troubled marriages. Out of the couples who went to counseling together, 54% claimed their relationships improved only for a short time but quickly backslid.

But here’s the real discouraging stat. Over 36% reported that counseling made things worse… and only 9.4% reported that counseling helped.

When Marriage Counseling Doesn’t Work

Here are a few possible reasons that marriage counseling fails for so many couples:

1. One spouse if forcing the other one to go against his/her will. This is especially true with men. When a woman tells her man that “we should go to counseling”, he feels like he’s just been called a loser (That’s just how they think, don’t blame me for it). He feels criticized and that’s a very bad start for an attempted healing process.

2. The therapy goals are not clear.

3. The marriage counselor is a bad match for the couple, or is simply not trained or not good enough. Some of the marriage counselors have never been married. Some are divorced. Are these the people you’d want to pay for marriage advice?

4. When one spouse feels uncomfortable sharing his or her feelings with a stranger in a small room.

5. When the couple seeks help too late. Counseling usually is the last resort for marriage partners, and by that time, a lot of resentments and grudges have festered for years. Once love is gone, there’s little incentive to try to patch things up.

6. When one of both of spouses agree to go to counseling as a way to prove their partner is “wrong” and they are “right”. When the “judge” refuses to place the blame on the partner, the marriage counseling fails. “

7. Spouses aren’t honest or open during counseling sessions.

When Marriage Counseling Doesn’t Work – Now What?

I spent a few good months in intensive marriage counseling, convinced that there was “something really wrong” with my husband, only to find that the main problem (at least for us) was… counseling itself.

Therapy isn’t for everyone. But there are other options. Local organizations like the Council for Relationships, churches, hospitals and community centers often offer marriage seminars and classes for couples.

You can ask for advice from a friend who’s in a happy and working relationship.

Bookstores are often full of books and DVDs that can give you the tools to navigate the tricky waters of your relationship. This book is a good one.

When our marriage counseling failed, I just couldn’t give up. I looked for alternatives and luckily, I found one that was my marriage-saver (I’ve written all about it – HERE).

I want you to know that even when marriage counseling doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that all hope is gone. Marriage problems are just like health problems. There’s no one solution that fits all. If this treatment didn’t work, you try a different one, until you find the best one for you.

What do you think? What should you do if marriage counseling doesn’t work? Why didn’t it work for you?

Rooting for ya,


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