Should we try marriage counseling?

Posted on Jul 1, 2016 by Katie Carter

Lots of couples talk to a marriage counselor as an attempt to repair their marriage. In fact, in my years of experience, I have never met a single person who didn’t tell me how hard they tried to fix their marriage before they wound up in my office. Is it possible to save your marriage, rather than end it? Almost certainly you know the answer to that question better than I do. All I can tell you, for a fact, is that, in my experience, many marriages can be saved. In fact, lots of people come in for a consultation with me, attend one of my monthly divorce seminars, or just ask me questions whenever they think they can catch a private moment who ultimately don’t end up hiring me or going through with a divorce at all.
As a married person myself, it always makes me happy when a marriage can be saved. As a divorce attorney, though, I know that there are some relationships that are beyond repair—and for good reason. I know that divorce is difficult, but I also know that I’ve seen such amazing transformations in my office. Women who came in down and depressed walked out looking almost visibly lighter, brighter, and ready to shine their light on the rest of their lives.
What I do is certainly never boring and, no matter what people may think, absolutely not depressing. Whether I end up saving marriages or ending them, I know I do so for good reason, and the people who leave my chairs do so with improved optimism and a better outlook on the rest of their lives. Knowledge is power, and they have it after they’ve talked with me (or, obviously, any of the other awesome attorneys in my office—Kristen, Caitlin, Sheera, Sarah, or Shannon), so they’re in a really strong position to make choices for their futures.
Of course, I don’t save or end marriages all by myself. In fact, often, my clients are also working with therapists—sometimes, in an individual capacity, and, other times, together with their husbands.
Marriage counseling is pretty popular these days. Not only do people undergo some marriage counseling, in many cases, before the wedding; still others turn to counselors after marriage. There’s no reason, of course, to wait until the going gets tough, still many people do.
Lots of women ask me, in their initial consultations or at my Second Saturday seminars, whether they should consider marriage counseling first. Though I’m not a therapist, I do often think it’s a good idea. Whether you can ultimately save your marriage or not, it’s definitely good for your peace of mind to know that you did everything you could to try to save it before you called it quits.
Still, you don’t have to try marriage counseling. If there’s some reason that you’re feeling like it might not be a good idea (like, for example, that you feel like your husband will only bully you there), then you should listen to your intuition. It’s not a good choice for everyone, and there’s certainly no requirement that you try it.
A lot of times, marriage counseling can be really helpful—even if your marriage isn’t in trouble! Marriage counselors can help you work through communication issues, or help you see things from the other person’s perspective. There are a lot of benefits to working with a therapist (someone who is trained to help people work through these really common issues), and I know that, professionally, I’ve seen the benefits of what happens when people spend time focusing on their marriages.
Remember that the other people that you’re talking to about your marital problems probably aren’t therapists, and don’t necessarily know how to give you the best, most productive advice possible. Whether you’re talking to an attorney or to close friends or family members, it’s difficult for them to advise you in a professional way.
I’ve had clients sitting in my chair before who ask me what to do in particular situations, and it always gives me heartburn. As far as the legal process goes, I know what to do but, when it comes to how to manage personal relationships, improve communication, and, ultimately, repair a damaged relationship—let’s be honest, I don’t have the training. (And, also, I’m not authorized to take your health insurance!)
Are there situations where marriage counseling wouldn’t be a good idea? Absolutely. But there’s also no question that, whether you attend counseling together or one on one, I’ve also seen marriages pulled from the brink of failure through counseling.
Divorce is difficult. Of course, staying married is difficult, too. And there’s no shame in making the choice that gives you the opportunity to live the kind of life you always planned on living.
While you’re considering marriage counseling, you should also consider requesting a free copy of our Virginia divorce book, “What Every Virginia Woman Needs to Know About Divorce.”  It’s full of tons of valuable information, including
• The 20 things you need to know to live separate under the same roof,
• The 13 factors that affect whether you’ll qualify to receive spousal support,
• How property is classified and divided in Virginia divorce,
• The ten critically important factors that affect how a judge will decide your custody case,
• How to determine your exact share of his retirement accounts,
• The financial records you MUST be aware of, and
• The stages of divorce.
You’re not ready for divorce? No worries. But reading the book will give you a better idea of what you can expect if, for whatever reason, you decide to pursue a divorce.

Want even more information? Consider attending one of our monthly divorce seminars. Each seminar is taught by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys, who will take time to explain Virginia law and the divorce process to you—and even take your questions.
Before you move forward with a divorce, consider talking to a marriage counselor, whether one on one or along with your husband. And, while you’re trying to gather information and make an informed decision about your future, also consider requesting a free copy of our divorce book by clicking here, or attending one of our Second Saturday Virginia divorce seminars. You’ll be glad you did!
For more information about our divorce book, seminars, or consultations with our attorneys, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200. Interested in trying a marriage counselor, but need a recommendation? We can point you in the right direction, too. Good luck!