Can marriage counselling help you prevent a divorce from happening? Can you stop a divorce by healing your marriage after an affair or other breakdown?
The answer is that healing a marriage in trouble is sometimes easier than most people imagine. That noted, it’s not always comfortable and can, at times, be confronting. You have to both be willing to give it the time it takes, and to follow customised healing exercises to help bring you back together as a closer couple.
Sometimes healing a marriage takes a lot of difficult emotional work. But the price of a divorce is typically far more costly in the shorter and longer run, both emotionally and financially, and it’s one of the many reasons marriage therapy is worth a go for the majority of couples who find themselves in strife.
With experience helping over 4,000 couples repair the cracks and crevices in their marital satisfaction levels; in my view, most marriages can be saved.
If not, and given a 50% divorce rate without timely therapy and/or with no therapy at all, then at least you’ll be likely to experience a less acrimonious divorce after adequate couples crisis therapy. A less acrimonious divorce is possible, and often the marriage can be healed, when each person in the couple genuinely seeks to better understand the other person; and to regain some sense of mutual respect and caring.
So either way, marriage counselling in a good investment for the majority of couples facing a relationship or marriage crisis point.
That noted, it requires an adequate amount of counselling time, with a high degree of focus and attention (and follow-through on the couples crisis healing exercises).
Not every person in a couple is willing to do what it takes, though — or even follow the exercises proven to help many a marriage survive a difficult event or couples crisis point (such as healing a marriage after an affair).
For many couples, yes, relationship counselling can help prevent or stop a divorce. Or at least, reduce the acrimonious nature of most marital break ups and dangerously disruptive divorces.
Marriage Counselling to Stop a Divorce: What works, what doesn’t!
That noted, it won’t help if one or both parties are simply going through the motions (dragged along to the counselling session); unwilling to take any responsibility for the dynamics in the relationship that underpinned the crisis or affair; and/or are looking to be elevated to a ‘victim’ status where the one spouse is made out to be the ‘bad person’ and the other is made to be ‘the saint’ — let’s face it, human beings — and human relationships — are far from perfect. And hence.
- Marriage counselling explained…
- What’s involved when you try to repair a relationship breakup?
Dangerously Disruptive Divorces
Divorces are far more disruptive than most people realise.
While divorce can sometimes be the best answer for some couples who are genuinely incompatible in their values and lifestyles or child rearing beliefs; for the majority of people, they incur disastrous losses in terms of family life changes, child access restrictions or limitations, friendships and social structure disruptions, financial stability losses and major hits to retirement capacities, yet alone the emotional and psychological effects from a disruptive divorce proceeding.
The truth is that many marriages can be healed; especially if a couple had a generally satisfying marriage for several years or decades; that later turned into a less-than-satisfying marriage, or a downright grating or abusive marriage. But often therapy is the key way forward because the couple hasn’t been able to resolve their hurts alone, or via talking with friends with entirely different views or opinions on what’s best for a couple in crisis.
This is why marriage therapy / relationship counseling is so important to attain, and in a timely manner, before the rift turns into a richter-scale fracture in the couple’s marriage structure.
Can You Stop A Divorce from Happening?
As alluded to above, Yes and No – sometimes you can (more often than people think), and sometimes you can’t
- Whether you can prevent a divorce depends on many variables
- But to avoid Divorce Remorse (more about this in my next blog)…
- Find out which factors are mandatory for saving a marriage in trouble…by reading on and
- Reading my other top 10 marriage therapy blogs to learn more about what marriage counselling can — and cannot — do!
Stopping a Divorce with Couples Counseling
Here are the two (2) most important things required for effective marriage counselling; if you’re wanting to prevent a separation and/or avoid a nasty divorce.
- The most important variable in saving a troubled marriage is whether both people in the couple are genuinely willing to give the marriage everything they have, and their willingness to be honest and vulnerable with each other, to discover IF (or more accurately, HOW) they can get back to love — back to caring, intimacy and love.
- The second most important variable is whether both people in a relationship are willing to take responsibility for their part in the marital breakdown (not blame, responsibility).
If one or both parties adopts a victim-thinking mode — pointing their finger at everyone else, but never considering their input into a relationship breakdown experience — the relationship is unlikely to be saved.
So is relationship happiness a steady aspect of a marriage, or is happiness something that comes and goes, and comes and goes?
For all but a few rare marriages, relationship happiness is something that definitely comes and goes throughout a marriage.
But happiness in marriage can come, go, and then stay gone for quite some time.
But when happiness in a relationship has been missing for over a year or longer, or when sexual intimacy becomes absent for an extended period of time; these are signs your relationship is in trouble.
If the marriage is in trouble, marriage counselling is warranted because the emotional, social and financial costs of a divorce are never to be underestimated.
Divorce happens when one, or both, partners in a marriage are:
- Having an affair and unwilling to give up the third party
- Addictions (sex, drugs, gambling, gaming)
- Abusive or condescending/humiliating
- Financially controlling – lauding money over the other person
Relationships are Living Things; and the break up of a marriage and family is equivalent to a death… the death of your family structures and routines. The death of your social structures and security.
Divorce is the relative death of the relationship status quo.
That noted, if the marriage is really harming your psyche or physical safety, or one or both parties has fully checked out of the marriage with no interest in going back; then divorce may, sadly, be the answer for that couple. But I see many couples on the brink of a divorce, who engage in couples crisis counselling, and find their way back to a more enduring, satisfying and sexually intimate relationship again — in other words, back to love.
Although relationships between ex-spouses sometimes improve after a divorce; divorce disruptions can usually be prevented with (a) open communication, (b) timely marriage counselling, and (c) a willingness to give the marriage a solid go with an experienced relationship coach.
Not all relationships can be saved, and not all couples are equally committed to trying to save their marriages with relationship therapy; but for those that are, I’ve seen some amazing turnarounds over a period of time.
- Do not, however, think that marriage counselling is a 1 to 10 session quick fix — its typically far longer (6 to 12 months).
- But that noted, it’s often far less (time-wise) than the time it’d take to go through a separation, settlement, child custody battles and a nasty, acrimonious divorce.
Why does marriage counselling take longer than most couples think?
The issues in marital breakdowns are often complex. The hurts are deep or multi-faceted, or have built upon each other. Or the hurts and disappointments are convoluted by our young-life experiences, previous losses and/or other concerns.
So healing a marriage can take some time.
But it can often be done, easier and quicker than many couples believe, if they are truly committed to giving the relationship rescue programs a genuine effort.
Relationships, like all things in life, need attention, caring and nurturing.
- Like all good things in life, marriages require an investment of time, energy, emotion, love — and sometimes — difficult emotions and early wounds that need healing. Professional help can be arranged in the form of couples master coaching support and/or marriage counselling/relationship therapy.
But in a marital relationship, often the emotional hurts, disappointments and betrayals go unadjusted.
This creates ‘a crevice that becomes a canyon’ (Quote from Emma).
- Hurts, disappointments and betrayals cause a wound that never heals.
- This causes a conflict that never resolves.
Difficulties in a relationship create turmoil that can lead to divorce, or — with the right marriage counsellor or Couples Coach and a committed couple willing to give it their all — repair is possible.
Can’t a couple work on their marriage alone, as a couple?
- Yes, they can, but most couples in crisis fare better when they get professional help by an unbiased, non-blaming therapist.
- Friends, while well-meaning, too often take sides, or let their own biases colour their views and opinions.
What can happen when a couple tries crisis repair without a professional?
- Couples often try to fix their marriage on their own, without a trained couples coach or marriage counsellor to help facilitate healing.
- This sometimes works, but often leads to a stalemate (one person says don’t worry about it, or doesn’t want to communicate about the issues or the affair, or the financial differences or addictions, and the other isn’t happy with letting the issue remain ‘swept under a rug’ sure to wear thin over time.
The blame game then begins, rather than the responsibility discussion where each person takes responsibility (not blame) for their part in the relationship breakdown.
Going it alone, one (or both) people in the marriage often can’t fully adapt or adjust to the trauma or underlying issues of concern.
Or they can’t seem to begin the forgiveness process and the couple moves into a stalemate; where communication about the underlying issues halts altogether — and the crevices turn into canyons.
- They get into a distance-building viewpoint about the infidelity, trauma or stressful event (or loss). The distance between the couple grows.
- Example relationship problem that can lead to a divorce: not talking about one partner’s affair in detail, but in a productive manner, after the affair has been exposed).
Then they end up in marriage counselling, just a bit too late…because the rift is the size of the grand canyon or the bass strait.
Marriage counselling is best when it’s timely….and all relationships need work. To think a couple can go through difficult times, child loss, cancer treatments, infidelity and other problems without professional help is to underestimate the impact of these traumas on a marriage.
How successful is marriage counselling?
Marriage counselling can often help. But sometimes – sadly – divorce is the answer, especially if the damage is so severe — and the lack of relationship healing is so prolonged (e.g. trying to accommodate the issues without facilitation to help the relationship recover in a healthy way) — that one or both of the marriage partners has completely checked out, well and truly. In this case, the relationship is often doomed; but even so, marriage counselling is worth a last-ditch try as the benefits of a win are far greater than the costs — and the potential losses — of a disruptive divorce.
In my experience, less than 5% of marriages in trouble — possibly up to 10%… can’t be helped to get back to love, especially when timely professional counselling help is sought. Especially if/when a couple is willing to give their marriage the time and energy it needs for relationship crisis repair. If the willingness is there, then despite where the relationship is, many CAN be saved, and divorce prevented.
Not all, of course. But a large majority of couples could avoid divorce remorse.
There are times a marriage has run its course (although often it’s a breakdown that could be remedied by the right type of couples coaching and/or marriage counselling). connect with me FAST
- Sometimes discussing what’s not working in a relationship feels too hard, or too painful, but it’s exactly what will bring back the happiness in your marriage or relationship.
- That’s because when a partner ‘checks out’ emotionally in their marriage, they may still stay in the relationship, but be seeking partnership or emotional intimacy elsewhere, which could lead to affairs and relationship crisis situations.
- The best course of action in this scenario, and in the other scenario’s above, is to invest in professional counselling rather than a divorce lawyer (‘dead money’).
- That’s because most marriages came together from a state of love, attraction, great sex and emotional intimacy. If a couple had it once, no matter how far they’ve strayed from having that, it can be healed if both partners are willing to give it a try and make the effort(s) required.
My couples crisis therapy programs help couple’s avoid those expensive, nasty divorces and difficult family separations that can wreak havoc on businesses, careers, family structures, social networks and everyone’s emotional well-being. So don’t call that divorce lawyer… try counselling. Up to 94% of the time it is effective, if you’re both willing to put the effort in and share your insights.
Try marriage counselling for at least six months. You’ll soon know if it’s helping you recovery the love and relationship happiness you once enjoyed.
And if it doesn’t work, then at least you’ll have a more amicable parting.
But as a couple’s coach, I’ve seen so many people throw away a marriage, or have an affair, instead of repairing and healing what’s gone wrong between them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Book a free call today to see how I can help
In an urgent marital crisis? On the brink of a separation or divorce?
Need a marriage counsellor now?
- Call or text using the links below for a discreet, confidential appointment.
- Can’t get to the Bayside suburbs of Melbourne for marriage counselling?
International assistance through online sessions using Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp or Zoom or in-person marriage counselling sessions in Australia (Melbourne based).