One of the most common questions asked by individuals enquiring about couple’s counselling is whether the process will save their marriage? This is an understandable question and is driven by anxiety in relation to thoughts of a break-up.
The answer to this question is not simple and the variables lie with the two individuals in the couple, rather than with the therapist. Allow me to explain:
If a couple enter into couple therapy with clarity about wanting to work through some difficulties with the goal of continuing with their relationship AND this is reflected in the work then it is likely that the outcome will be a stronger relationship between the two individuals in the couple resulting from improved dialogue and intimacy.
However, this is often simply not the case. At best one partly frequently has ambivalent feelings about staying in the relationship or simply cannot get in touch with whether this is something they want due to the strength of feeling around unresolved issues.
Let us take the example of an affair. This is a fairly common presenting issue with couples who seek out couple counselling. In a typical scenario where one party in the relationship has been unfaithful, the other is likely to be feeling betrayed, hurt, angry and mistrustful.
Until these emotions can be worked through in session (if they can) and the hurt party can both come to terms with the affair, as well as with how both parties in the couple contributed to a loss (or avoidance) of intimacy, the question of whether the marriage can be saved remains a moot point.
Working with a skilled counsellor or psychotherapist can only benefit your relationship in terms of providing you both with a therapeutic relationship and environment in which difficult feelings can be worked through and better dialogue and understanding reached between to two members of the couple.
As painful as it is, sometimes the best outcome for a couple can be that both amicably go their separate ways.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch. Online therapy is available.