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What is Marriage Counseling?

Updated on September 19, 2012

Every relationship has challenges. Every relationship requires work. Every relationship can be made better - even yours. Relationships, especially marriage relationships, may be very complex. The problems and challenges which inevitably arise out of such an intimate relationship can be daunting. Let's just say it - sometimes being married is just not that easy. It doesn't have to be. Trained marriage counselors and therapists can help you navigate through these tough times.


Top 10 Reasons Why Marriage Counseling Might Never Work for You

• You go just to say you're going to therapy or counseling

• Either one or both of you don't like your therapist/counselor

• Not being truthful with your therapist/counselor

• Not completing the assignments designed to help you

• Not making the session a priority in your schedule

• You are inflexible, close-minded or not open to change

• You have a boyfriend/girlfriend while you're in therapy

• You let your spouse do all the talking and don't participate

• You don't believe therapy/counseling can help you

• You cannot laugh at yourself


Marriage Relationships and Baggage

Relationships, or at least the idea of a relationship is perfect until you add people. People come to a relationship with baggage - values, habits, opinions, problems and issues that have been with them since their earliest days as a child. Some of this baggage may be relatively harmless and require some minor adjustments. For example, when my spouse and I were first married, I found out yelling was going to be a problem. I made some minor behavioral adjustments and everything was great after that.

Some of the baggage that people bring into a marriage relationship can be very damaging and may require intensive effort, counseling or therapy to overcome or affect change. Examples of this type of baggage would include things like alcoholism, substance abuse or emotional, physical and sexual abuse.


What is Marriage Counseling?

There may be many reasons a couple might need to get help form an outside third party like a marriage counselor or therapist. So what is marriage counseling exactly and how can it help you? Well, marriage counseling or couples therapy is intended to help couples work out their problems, resolve issues and provide tools that a couple may use to help them deal with any future issues or problems.

Marriage counseling, marriage therapy or couples therapy - they are all essentially the same thing - is conducted by a highly trained, licensed counselor or therapist. These professionals are also known as marriage and family therapist (MFT's). The services and advice provided by these professionals is similar to those offered by other therapist and counselors, except they focus on marriage and family issues. Most counselors and therapists specialize in ways to help a couple in crisis and offer assistance for making that intimate relationship better. Others specialize in even more specific areas like sexual intimacy and extended family issues.


Helpful Resources About Marriage at

Who Does Marriage Counseling Benefit?

Essentially, marriage counseling is for anyone or any couple who has decided they need help with their marriage relationship. When a couple, or one partner in a marriage feels they no longer have control over their situation, or may not able to resolve or work out their own problems for whatever reason, a professional marriage counselor or therapist may be able to help.

How Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Marriage and family therapists or counselors help couples to work through problems and provide tools to resolve issues within a marriage relationship. Typically, a couple will meet on a regular basis (usually once a week) with a licensed therapist or counselor. This therapist or counselor will provide tools to help a couple have better effective communication, resolve conflict without resorting to fighting, etc.

Therapist and counselors are trained to specifically analyze each partners role in the marriage relationship in order to search for and identify any sources of conflict. Sometimes it may be difficult for couples to talk about these areas of conflict. That's where a professional therapist or counselor does their best work, They know the thought processes and can help a couple find new ways to open up and communicate more effectively.


We all know that most all relationships are not perfect. Even a seemingly perfect relationship is likely to be tested at some point in time. Marriage counseling or therapy helps a couple take all of those things that can cause conflict between partners and learn to make them complement each other.

Couples benefit from counseling or therapy by learning to understand and respect a partner's different views, opinions, behavior or culture. When a couple acquires the tools to work through these conflicts, their relationship benefits. When that marriage relationship benefits, the entire family benefits.



Marriage therapist or marriage family counselors know ways to help a couple with their relationship. A therapist or counselor may facilitate better communication or resolution of conflict through any number of methods including reframing, tracking, the empty chair, role-playing, games or other methods proven to help couples and families.

Some therapists believe in treating the entire family, some work with just the couple. Most methods used in counseling or therapy involve building better communication between partners or family members.

Here is one example of a method used by many marriage therapists and counselors. Reframing is a technique in which a therapist may use to join with a couple or family in order to present a different perspective on solving problems.

For example, a therapist or counselor may use an instance like a husband repeatedly questioning his wife's behavior after arriving home late from a meeting at work. The husband may be genuinely concerned while the wife may see his questioning as insinuating or cause for suspicion of her behavior. A professional marriage therapist or counselor may reframe the negative insinuations to be seen as genuine, positive concern.



Is there a benefit in a couple going to see a marriage counselor or therapist?

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