Can Marriage Counseling Be Successful If Only One Spouse Is Willing?

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14165974147_db8572cd77_zMarriage counseling is often thought of as an activity that requires both people’s participation to be successful. That’s partly because of how we frame success when it comes to outcomes. A “success” is often considered whether the marriage stays together. If only one spouse is willing to take part in the counseling, that makes it very difficult to save the marriage, so it would be hard to call counseling a success. But here are some reasons why we should start rethinking the metrics.

1. Success focused on you is entirely possible.

The unfortunate reality is that by the time one spouse says the words, “I want a divorce,” the outcome with regard to the marriage has been decided. A marriage cannot be successful if two people want completely different things, and one party no longer wants theirs while attached to the other party. That recipe boils to a 100 percent fail rate. However, that doesn’t mean your counseling sessions are unsuccessful as long as you’re getting something out of it. If it encourages you to take a more analytical approach to your happiness and your relationships, that’s a good thing.

2. Counseling is really just an ingredient for success.

Instead of affixing success to the outcome of your marriage, you should instead realize that one thing isn’t going to be the fix-all. Counseling can help couples work through issues and become better people, but it can’t do it on its own. There are other factors at play, thus making counseling a mere ingredient for success rather than the only option.

3. Counseling can make your next relationship or marriage happier.

While this may not mean much to you now, it will down the road. If you hang in there with counseling and give yourself over to the process, that’s still no guarantee your marriage will survive. But the gains you get from it can make your next relationship or marriage a vast improvement over your last.

How do you think of success when it comes to marriage counseling? Share your experiences with us in the comments section.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]
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