Marital Therapy:  How it works, And the best Outcomes.

Marital Therapy:  How it works, And the best Outcomes.

Keeping your marriage healthy and happy over time takes work and is sometimes it be a difficult. It is wonderful when a couple in a troubled relationship can recognize and jointly work out their differences. This process is seldom easy, however. Once problems have started to become chronic, each partner feels betrayed by the other and compromise feels unsafe. In such cases, the safe and protected haven offered by a marital or couples’ therapist can make the difference between a marriage that fails and one that recovers itself.

Marital Therapy

Getting Marital therapy is probably the best single thing that people in troubled marriages can do to help heal their marriages. A skilled marriage therapist offers support and intervention that can help distrusting disengaged partners to safely address their difficulties and begin the process of problem solving and healing:

Creating an Atmosphere of Safety and being heard  

In the beginning stages of marital therapy, the therapists begin to provide a trustworthy and safe environment which can contain and manage couples’ anger, frustration and contempt. As in all forms of professional therapy the therapists will remain neutral and do not take sides. They maintain and help the couple understand confidentiality and privacy with marital therapy. Giving each spouse the space and time to discuss their feelings about their marriage in a safe atmosphere.

Therapists often begin this process by collecting “data” on the interaction between the partners by watching how they interact. Therapists then formulate “hypotheses” about what factors may lead to the way the partners interact.

Conflicted couples often become easily defensive and have difficulty listening to each other. Often the Therapists will function as traffic cops to make sure that partners take turns talking and listening to each other, no one is shut down and unable to speak and all have a better chance to feel listened to than would otherwise be possible.

The therapist will begin helping the couple learn some healthy communication skills. This is not just to teach the couple healthy communication skills as they move forward in their marriage, but to   limit angry and hysterical emotional displays during the actual therapy.

A good therapist will promote calm problem solving. In general, they provide a space in which it becomes possible for couples to step out of defensiveness and work on problems in a productive and rational manner. Experienced therapists have “seen it all before” and can help couples to understand when their desires and expectations (of each other and/or of themselves), indiscretions and reactions are normal and when they are unusual, inappropriate or even abusive. Such feedback from an objective third party can provide a needed reference point which partners can refer to during their therapy.

Therapists teach problem solving skills which can help couples gain tools to help them better address and manage their conflicts. Communication skills help couples to know how to better speak and listen to each other. Soothing skills help partners to better recognize when they are becoming triggered by their emotions and feelings or being defensive, and how to calm themselves so that rational dialog remains possible. To the extent that the problem appears to be caused by partners’ failure to understand one another, therapists will work hard to promote communication.

They teach listening skills, promote sharing of feelings and desires that may be difficult to express and encourage partners to repeat what their partners have said to demonstrate their understanding what their partner as stated. When necessary, they will interpret partner’s meanings to better promote each partner’s understanding of the other. Therapists may also point out relationship patterns that partners may not have been aware of (for instance, if one partner attempts to treat the other as a child or as a parent) which could interfere with their ability to relate as adult partners.

Healthy Marital therapy helps couples become more emotionally connected, where both spouses’ needs are being met.  Healthy Marital therapy helps the couple find their own strengths in the relationship and build resiliency particularly as therapy nears a close. Because so much of marital therapy involves focusing on problem areas, it’s easy to lose sight of the other areas in which couples’ function effectively. The point of promoting strength is to help the couple derive more enjoyment out of their relationship.

People in troubled relationships need not give up in despair if their situation seems bleak. By the same token, people afraid of entering long-term relationships can be encouraged by learning that trouble relationships with the right therapy can heal.

Behind every complaint is a deep personal longing. Dr. John Gottman

Marital therapy generally takes place outpatient-style in a therapist’s office and is offered once per week with each session lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. The number of therapy sessions will vary according to the severity of the problems each couple is facing.

Six Tips to Make Marriage and Couples Counseling Work

  1. Have More Goals for yourself than you have for your spouse.
  2. Put Yourself Out There and to learn and be challenged
  3. Put in the Time, make marital therapy a priority
  4. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
  5. Remember you and your spouse are on the same team.
  6. Take Divorce Off the Table. We understand there are times where divorce may be necessary. Divorce does not heal a marriage or heal hurt relationships it ends a marriage and often the end the relationships.


At Sure Hope Counseling & Training Center we are dedicated to helping marriages and couples heal. Seeking a marriage therapist, you can contact; Mike Vaughn , Kelly Saylor, Scott Smith, Susan Steier, Callie Gross and Jim Katsoudas.


Jim Katsoudas

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