12 signs couples counseling is no longer working
Written by Craig Cherney

12 signs couples counseling is no longer working

At their 50th anniversary party, Rodney and Linda were repeatedly asked, “what’s the key to a good, long marriage?” The couple surprised the guests with their honesty when they shared their secret: couples counseling. Over the years, the pair spent many hours learning how to communicate effectively, and this approach guided them through many stressful situations during their marriage.

Why Couples Counseling?

At times, Rodney and Linda questioned whether their marriage could survive their latest struggle. Couples counseling gave them a neutral place to go and speak openly with each other, as well as tools to help them have difficult conversations on their own. Rather than aggressive arguments or silent avoidance, they learned skills to address conflict as it came up. Throughout the years, their counselor gave unbiased feedback and suggestions to guide them to resolutions.

Benefits of Couples Counseling

Does couples counseling work? According to Psychology Today, counseling is 75% effective for couples. That number includes high-stress couples:

  • Infertile couples
  • Military marriages
  • Parents of chronically ill children
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

The reason couples counseling can be so useful is the focus on communication skills. Communication coaching is a process by which couples learn how to resolve conflicts effectively. It offers ways to improve your communication skills at home, work and in relationships.

Couples counseling benefits can include:

  • Dealing with issues as they arise
  • Developing a better understanding of your partner
  • Gaining confidence to discuss, rather than avoid, issues
  • Improving communication skills
  • Learning how to stand up for yourself without being aggressive
  • Saying what you feel

Couples counseling can lead you on a journey to discovering what you truly want and need. You may find that marriage isn’t it. Even if that’s the case, the communication skills you practice in counseling can benefit you during a divorce.

If you are considering couples counseling, one of the communication specialists at Best Legal Choices may be able to help. These professionals have backgrounds in social work or are licensed therapists or psychologists who have training and experience with couples therapy. Although a professional who works with a family as a communication specialist in a collaborative divorce cannot also serve that family as a therapist (and vice versa), they can assist you in understanding the differences so you can decide for yourself what’s best for your family.

Signs Couples Counseling Isn’t Working

Like Rodney and Linda, most couples go into counseling with the hope of improving or even saving their marriage. However, sometimes couples begin to realize counseling isn’t working in the way they expected. If, after counseling, you realize you’re better off living separate lives than staying married, that’s not a failure. Successful counseling will lead you both in the right direction to live your best life.

Here are twelve red flags indicating couples counseling probably won’t save your marriage:

  1. One spouse is forcing the other to attend counseling sessions.
  2. You don’t trust each other.
  3. You don’t feel heard.
  4. Judgment or shame continues to be a weapon.
  5. Both of you feel the other doesn’t “get it.”
  6. Individual and family goals are unclear.
  7. One or both of you are uncomfortable discussing intimacy during counseling.
  8. The sessions focus on one spouse, rather than the couple.
  9. You agree on a plan during counseling, but nobody follows through at home.
  10. Your partner is silent. Every session.
  11. The counselor isn’t a good match.
  12. The counselor tells you it’s not working.

Collaborative Divorce and Couples Counseling

If you’ve already tried couples counseling and are have noticed some of the warning signs that therapy is not likely to save your marriage, it may be time to consider collaborative divorce. During this process communication specialists, financial neutrals and legal professionals can help prepare you for a new future. The communication skills you gained during counseling will benefit you and your spouse as you work together to come to mutually agreeable outcomes outside of a courtroom.

Although your marriage counseling may have ended, continuing individual therapy may benefit both you and your spouse as you make the transition through your divorce and beyond. If you’re at a stand-still with your couples counseling and are ready to learn more about collaborative divorce, contact a professional at Best Legal Choices today.

Are you in counseling to break the divorce news to your spouse? This may be a good use of resources, because sometimes, people will stall.  Click here to read about how to cope with stalling during a divorce.