Monday, 25 October 2010

Seek a Marriage Counselor IF

Marriage counselors do not save (many) marriages that have had years of neglect or suffered a severe blow. By the time a marriage is on life support in most cases it is too late. Statistics claim that over 70% of marriage counseling is ineffective. If that isn’t bad enough, supposedly 75% of couples who sought counseling felt they were worse off.

Given these statistics why would anyone in their right mind seek marriage counseling? The answer - you might be one of the 30% who is helped. However, I subscribe that your odds improve greatly if you see a counselor long before the divorce papers are sitting on the dining room table. There are a growing number of couples who are seeking help long before they get to this point. They focus on resolving a particular problem or learn more effective communication skills, or develop a more God honoring way of handling conflict. These couples have a reasonably good marriage but they know that it could be better.

Why doesn’t counseling have a better track record? Answer – by the time most couples agree to go to counseling the proverbial horse is out of the barn. Often the couples are polarized, i.e. convinced that the majority of the problem lies with their spouse. When a partner’s real agenda is to have the counselor “fix” his/her spouse it is a waste of everyone’s time. Too often at least one of the partners has decided to get a divorce but as a “good will” gesture agrees to counseling just to say they tried it and it didn’t work.

Much of the marriage counseling I’m familiar with seems to focus on the issues at hand, which often fans the flames of discontent, or uses behavioral change, i.e. go on date nights, etc as a means to re-establish a loving feeling. These approaches have helped some people. But I’m convinced that lasting change occurs as a result of a heart change. It begins with going to God and asking him to forgive you for the hurt you have inflicted on your spouse. It then requires going to your spouse and asking them to forgive you for what you have done. Finally enter counseling with the attitude that with God’s help “I” need to change. It doesn’t matter if you are 10% of the problem or 80% of the problem. When both a husband and wife approach counseling in this manner a huge change can take place.