The good news is that there are effective treatments for marital distress. Given a willingness to work on a marriage, most people can make their marriages satisfying again.
No one begins as a perfect partner. Marriage depends on a number of skills, such as being able to understand yourself, understand your partner, fight well, problem solve, and negotiate differences. Sometimes patterns we learned in our families growing up aren’t effective, but are carried over to a marriage. And sometimes the stresses of life make it difficult to stay happily married.
Treatment for marital distress is in part building or rebuilding the skills that work in marriage, such as learning to communicate and problem solve, and how to fight without engaging in too much hurt. Partly, marital therapy is about partners working to see each other as people, to understand where they are coming from, and to negotiate those differences that can be negotiated and accept those differences that cannot. Couples all have issues that stay with them; the key is to build a process that can help find a way to talk about those issues, to find solutions, and not have the problems that emerge in life become overwhelming.
Couple therapists have special training in couple therapy. They know how to help couples have a sense of progress even as they struggle with difficult issues. There are many kinds of effective couple therapy. Some promote skills and practice, others look more at the past and how things got this way; most combine the two. If you have a marital problem, call a couple therapist and make an appointment. Finding a couple therapist is easy, but use caution. Be sure the person has specific experience in couple therapy, as marriage and family therapists do.
Beginning couple therapy is not easy. For most people, it’s hard to begin to share with a person you don’t know about marital difficulties, and it’s hard not to be discouraged as you argue about these issues at first in front of a therapist. Couples with marital distress are often discouraged and have trouble believing that couple therapy can help. But couples who begin marital therapy begin to create a process for overcoming their difficulties. Sometimes the resolution of problems happens very quickly, though more typically a longer period is needed. For most, it’s hard to work on these problems at first, but ultimately that becomes easier and problems are resolved.
What Should You Do if Your Partner Won’t Go to Therapy?
Some people with marital problems won’t seek help even when it is essential. If your partner won’t go to therapy, try to encourage them. It’s hard to fix a distressed marriage on your own. Still, if they won’t go, you can begin to do some things yourself. A marriage and family therapist is likely to have some useful ideas about how to improve the relationship without both of you getting into therapy and about how to find better ways to approach your partner about the idea of entering treatment together.
The text of this brochure was written by Jay Lebow, PhD.
Use the AAMFT Consumer Update "Marital Distress" pamphlets to market your practice.
To receive more information about couple's counseling or if you have questions regarding the intake process, please contact us at our Fort Collins office:
Beyond the Mirror Counseling
1031 Robertson Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Phone: (970) 402-8543
Fax: (970) 493-9113
Couple's Counseling Fort Collins, Couple's Counseling Loveland, Couple's Counseling Windsor,