When Is It Too Late For Marriage Counseling?
As relationship therapists, we don’t play god and we don’t tell people it’s too late to save their marriage. However, here are some factors at play to consider when you are thinking about marriage counseling.
Falling “out of love” is not necessarily the reason to end a marriage. Love is not just a feeling, it is sometimes a choice. Oftentimes when a couple reconnects, love comes back. However, there has to be a desire and willingness to work on connection. If one or both partners are not willing to consider and try to connect, to try to be vulnerable and open to their partner, marriage counseling will not be of help.
Sometimes, a couple comes in and the resentment and anger in the room is so palpable, you can cut it with a knife. They proceed to scream and accuse each other, often times talking at the same time. Many times, this happens because the anger and resentment have gone on for so long that it is hard to move past it.
It is very deep and each feels justified in feeling the way they do. It would have been much better had they come in sooner.
Related to that, some partners in a marriage feel contempt for one another. It is a very toxic feeling and there is usually a sense of justification for feeling this way. It is hard to move from contempt. Usually with contempt comes defensiveness and criticism of the other. With some couples there is such a flood of these feelings that there is nowhere for a therapist to even intervene, what goes on at home, takes place in our office. This is a very tough situation to shift.
I sometimes see couples where one partner recoils if the other even attempts any kind of affection. This sense of almost disgust at the idea of being touched by your spouse is a very discouraging sign for a couples therapist.
It is important to pick up on signs of trouble in a marriage before they become so entrenched that the shift becomes practically impossible.