How Marriage Counseling Helped Strengthen (and Sometimes Save) These Marriages

Couples therapy isn’t about not loving each other; it’s about learning to live with each other

Updated 03/15/17

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"’Either we go to marriage counseling or I'm out of here,’ I said to my husband when he was having problems dealing with his chronic health issue. In counseling, we talked frankly about how his illness made him feel and why he snapped at me when I exhibited concern. He felt my responses often seemed sarcastic rather than loving. I finally got him to understand how his being sick scared me, how alone and helpless I felt every time I waited alone in the hospital waiting room. Having a third person moderate our discussions really helped turn things around for us.” —Carol

“I’m a newlywed about to celebrate my first anniversary. Through EFT (emotion-focused therapy), I learned that it's not about solving all your problems but learning how to ‘fight right.’ We now know how to nip squabbles in the bud instead of letting them escalate into fully blown fights. It's important to hear your partner's concerns, ask how he or she is feeling, validate concerns, and do your best to have patience.... We’ve finished formal therapy sessions, but we're continually finding opportunities to put our skills to the test as we renovate/modernize a 1938 farmhouse!” —Julia

“David and I went to therapy before I even had a ring on my finger. We discussed everything from sex to money to conflicts and it was 100 percent beneficial for our marriage. We had a major conflict arise in regards to moving across the country right after our wedding this past December. We used all the conflict communication tips/notes/worksheets we had from pre-engagement counseling and resolved the issue. Who wants to announce to the world you’re getting married, invite hundreds of guests, and end up breaking up before the wedding due to deep core issues you find out during engagement planning?

I didn't go into marriage with a fantasy, and I love my husband even more because we did this deep dive into really getting to know one another as soon as we started considering marriage.” —Morgan

“My husband and I went to counseling because of his infidelity and it saved our relationship. In any marriage there are two sides to a story, and I had to acknowledge that my actions contributed to him cheating. Couples counseling helped me realize that no marriage is perfect, and if the good outweighs the bad you stay and work it out.” —Tamara

“We love each other, but over five years of marriage our sex life had withered. So I suggested couples counseling. It was great. We learned how to communicate honestly about what made us feel sexy: time away from the kids, watching porn together... For the first time I was able to verbalize my sexual fantasies. We also learned that sex is not separate from the other parts of our marriage. When we felt distant or resentful, our sex life suffered. Now that we communicate better, our sex life is—well, sexy!” —Ellen

“We went to therapy six months after the wedding. Jim and I had never really talked about what came after ‘happily ever after.’ He still wanted to go out with the boys on Friday nights; I continued to confide every detail about Jim to my mother and closest girlfriend. And he wrongly assumed I’d want to start trying for a child instantly. Counseling helped us figure out that marriage meant changing our priorities and making compromises for the other person. He has boys’ night once a month; I only share certain intimate details about Jim if he’s okay with it.

And we’ve mutually decided to enjoy two full years of couple time before baby makes three. Our therapist was a life saver!” —Anita

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