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September 24, 2012

More About the Counseling Survey

Last week I posted the basic results from our Couple Counseling Survey. Today I'll discuss some of the comments made by respondents. The survey included a space for comments on nearly every question; some people contacted me outside the survey (by email or blog comments).

One respondent mentioned that her husband was being seen by a specialist for sex addition, and that she had gone to some sessions with him. Although this survey didn't ask what kind of problems had led to counseling, "sex addiction" usually implies infidelity. Other respondents mentioned "communication problems" and arguing.

All respondents who had tried counseling indicated that it had had a positive effect on their marriages. Most said it had saved the relationship. Interestingly, although some said it "helped some," no one said it "helped a lot." Perhaps being helped a lot and saving the relationship are really the same thing.

Several women said that they would like to go to counseling (or go back) but that their husbands refused. Some said that they didn't know how to approach their husbands without having the idea rejected. This seemed particularly sad to me. When one partner in a troubled relationship rejects the other's attempts solve their problems, it is very unlikely that the situation will get better.

Since the survey didn't ask those who had not tried counseling why they hadn't tried it, the only reasons I have are from those with the resistant husbands. My travels on the Web suggest a number of other reasons why people don't get marriage counseling:
  • They are very satisfied with the marriage.
    This is wonderful! If this is your situation, just keep doing what you are doing.
  • They have a few problems but expect to be able to work them out on their own.
    Again, this is great. Move forward and keep a positive attitude.
  • One or both partners feel embarrassed about telling their problems to a stranger.
    Don't let this hold you back from the help you need. Whatever you have to say, it is unlikely to be something your counselor hasn't heard before. A good marriage counselor will approach your situation with respect and sensitivity.
  • They think it would be too expensive.
    Separation and divorce are even more expensive. And living in misery is not worth any price. If money is tight, there are many organizations that can help you find affordable counseling in most areas.
  • They disagree about whether they have serious problems.
    It is very important for each partner in a marriage to pay respectful attention to the other person's concerns. If your partner is unhappy and sees a serious problem, even if it doesn't seem that way to you, pay attention. Unfortunately, some people don't take their spouse's complaints seriously until one day the spouse walks out the door. By then it may be too late.
If you'd like to add your ideas, comments or experiences with counseling, please share them in the comments below.

1 smart person said something:

  1. The results of the survey were very interesting. I think one of a couple being resistant to attending counseling is nearly always the case, certainly at first. In my own experience, when we were attending counseling there were times when we switched places over the weeks and months - the one that wanted to go no longer did and vice versa.

    It doesnt surprise me that the potential costs can dissuade some people from attending, especially these days. Like you said though, separation and divorce are more expensive!


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