Is your marriage on its last legs? If you're not yet willing to divorce, couples therapy could grant you another shot at marital bliss. This process is far from easy, however. You and your spouse will need to put in considerable effort. Even then, the results may not be immediately evident. Months of hard work and seemingly no results can be frustrating; how do you know when to throw in the towel?
Watch for these often-missed signs of progress:
You understand the problems in your marriage: Many couples enter therapy completely clueless as to the nature of their issues. If you can succinctly define the top three concerns in your marriage, you've already benefited from counseling. Understanding the problem is the first step to finding a solution.
You no longer view your spouse as the enemy: Frequency of fights may say less than you think about the quality of your relationship. You'll continue to fight several months into therapy, but your perception of these spats may change. Ideally, your negative view of your spouse will soften, and you'll begin to acknowledge that both you and your partner are responsible for your current struggles.
Your arguments have become more productive: Arguing in and of itself may not be a sign of trouble; how you argue says more about the state of your marriage. In marriage counseling, you should learn how to work through disagreements in a productive manner. Think back to your latest spat: did it accomplish anything? Or did it end in a standstill? If your natural conflicts lead to positive change, thank your marriage counselor.
Neither of you have dropped out: The fact that both of you continue to attend counseling is a promising sign in and of itself. Many spouses quit attending after just one or two sessions. Take heart; if you and your partner remain committed to counseling, the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than you think.
The good news: Decades of research from the American Psychological Association suggest that Emotionally-Focused Therapy (the most common form of couples counseling) is 75%effective. You may have made more progress than you think. If couples therapy falls through, consider chatting with a respected family lawyer.