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Top 10 Marriage Counseling Myths


Marriage counseling is not as mysterious as some might think. There are many marriage counseling myths and uncertaing about what marriage counseling is actually about. It’s easy to form negative opinions about marriage counseling if you believe the misinformation about marriage counseling. You may have heard about a bad marriage counseling experience in passing, or maybe you’ve never been to therapy and don’t know what it’s really about. Whatever the case, it’s common to form your opinions based on what you’ve heard from other sources, but it’s a good idea to check the facts. 

If you have negative opinions about marriage counseling, it’s important to learn where the marriage counseling myths come from. The good thing about marriage counseling myths is that they’re completely false. None of these myths are based in fact. Marriage counseling can be life-changing and transformative for your marriage and provides the path to greater happiness and marital satisfaction. Attending marriage counseling is a brave and noble step towards improving your marriage and strengthening the bond between you and your spouse. These ten marriage counseling myths are only getting in the way of your happiness, so it’s time to learn the truth. 

Myth #1: Marriage counseling is only for couples on the brink of divorce

Myth number one is possibly the most dangerous myth out there regarding marriage counseling. The idea that marriage counseling is only for couples on the brink of divorce prevents many couples from seeking marriage counseling. Believing in this myth can make it harder to admit that your marriage needs help. You may be in denial that your marriage is struggling and may think that you and your spouse can just work through things independently. You may tell yourself that things are not that bad, so you don’t need marriage counseling. Besides, only couples about to get divorced seek marriage counseling, right? 

Wrong!

The fact is that marriage counseling is useful even if your marriage is doing pretty well. Couples experiencing minor, run-of-the-mill issues in their marriage can (and should) seek out marriage counseling. Marriage counseling is not just for couples trying to delicately glue the shattered pieces of their marriage back together. It’s also for couples who want to iron out the wrinkles in their marriage.

Couples can seek marriage counseling for the smaller issues to prevent them from growing bigger. Couples who want to grow together and understand each other better seek out marriage counseling. It’s simply not true that marriage counseling is only for couples facing divorce. 

Myth #2: Family and friends will assume your marriage is on the rocks

This is one of the most common marriage counseling myths out there. The fear of your family and friends finding out that you and your spouse attend marriage counseling can be real. You may fear judgment and care a lot about what other people think about you or your relationship. If your family and friends find out about your marriage counseling, they will assume your marriage is on the rocks. This myth plagues many couples, and the fear and shame prevent them from seeking help. 

Fortunately, this is only a myth. If you’re afraid of people in your life finding out, don’t tell them! Your therapist is bound by strict confidentiality laws and will not reach out to your friends or family. There’s no way that anyone will find out unless you tell them. Truthfully though, seeking marriage counseling is nothing to be ashamed of and is not a taboo. Admitting that you have issues to work on in your marriage shows immense emotional strength and the ability to take the initiative. 

You might be surprised at how perceptive your friends and family are to the idea of marriage counseling. You and your spouse might even set a good example that will encourage the people in your life to seek therapy as well. Even if your family or friends assume that your marriage is on the rocks, you’ll be knowledgeable enough on the subject to set the record straight. 

Marriage counseling can be life-changing. You may feel compelled to spread the good word about marriage counseling after you’ve experienced it for yourself. You may find yourself telling everyone in your life about how great marriage counseling has been for your relationship.

Myth #3: Marriage counseling will only make things worse

You may have heard from a friend of a friend about a bad marriage counseling experience, so you’re convinced that marriage counseling will only make things worse. You may truly believe that marriage counseling is just an opportunity to be judged, punished, or argued with by your spouse or therapist. It may be difficult to imagine marriage counseling doing anything positive. Marriage counseling only ever makes things worse – or so you thought. This myth stems from an ill-informed idea of marriage counseling. 

The myth that marriage counseling will only worsen is not based on any science or research. Marriage counseling should make your life and marriage better and more manageable. Therapy is what you and your spouse make of it. If you and your spouse are putting the work into repairing your relationship, you’re likely to see positive change in your marriage.

Marriage counseling won’t make your marriage worse off. It provides the opportunity to learn something new about yourself and your spouse. The therapist is also not there to judge or punish either of you. They’re not going to invite you into their office just to watch you argue under any circumstance. Couples therapy sessions are structured to be safe spaces to discuss your issues and learn new tools for working through your problems. They also give you and your spouse the space to be vulnerable and reflective with each other and ultimately allow you and your spouse to grow stronger bonds. 

Myth #4: Your marriage is beyond repair, and counseling won’t help

You may think that your marriage is too far gone, and at this point, nothing will help–not marriage counseling, not a magic wand, not a genie granting you three wishes. You may think that marriage counseling is only for somewhat salvageable marriages and not a marriage that is in shambles. Instead of thinking that marriage counseling is for couples on the brink of divorce, you think marriage counseling is for couples who just need some help and guidance.

The truth is that marriage counseling can help your marriage no matter what state of decay (or growth) it’s in. Even if you and your spouse have been talking about divorce, there’s still hope for your marriage unless you’ve signed divorce papers. Marriage counseling can get to the deep roots of your marital issues. It can provide you with new skills and activities that will improve the health of your marriage. 

If your marriage is in really bad shape, it’s understandable why you might think that it’s completely beyond repair. You and your partner might even feel embarrassed by the state of your marriage. However, couples therapists have truly seen it all. They’ve probably helped many couples like you, and they’ll know just how to help your situation. They also want what’s best for your marriage and will encourage you and your spouse not to give up on each other so easily.

Myth #5: The therapist always picks sides

Another myth that prevents couples from seeking marriage counseling is that the therapist always picks sides. The fear is that you’ll get into marriage counseling, and the therapist will see which person is causing all of the problems. You think that the therapist will be biased towards one person and blind to seeing both sides of the equation. Marriage counseling will just end up being an hour-long session of the therapist and your spouse ganging upon you.

This is not at all what marriage counseling is supposed to be like! Therapists who have extensive experience in marriage counseling know that it’s extremely common for both people to contribute to the issues within their marriage. They know that it’s rarely just one person causing all of the marriage problems. Therefore they know not to take sides but rather consider both peoples’ perspectives. 

Therapists use a dialectical approach to marriage counseling, which means they consider all aspects of the issues at hand. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, a therapist will work with each couple on what therapy techniques work best for that specific couple. Marriage counseling is tailored to your specific marriage situation, and you can rest assured that the therapist will not take sides.  

Myth #6: Couples therapy is too much of a time commitment

You may think to yourself, once a week for an hour for that many months? That’s a huge commitment to therapy! Considering your work schedule and taking care of the kids may seem like too much time spent in therapy. Many couples fall into the trap of making excuses not to go to therapy. They just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules, so they put marriage counseling on the back burner. They assume that couples therapy is too much of a time commitment for something they can probably just handle on their own. Unfortunately, the myth that couples therapy is too much of a time commitment damages many marriages.

It doesn’t seem like that much commitment when you break down the amount of time spent in therapy. How many hours per week do you spend watching TV or scrolling on your phone? Can you commit just one of those hours per week to self-improvement and improving your marriage? 

Let’s say, for example, that you and your spouse looked into marriage counseling and found out that it would be a once per week commitment for three months. It seemed like a long time. After all, a lot can happen in three months. However, if you consider that those three months will pass by regardless of whether or not you attend marriage counseling, you may think differently about the time commitment. Three months from now, you will have gone through marriage counseling and improved your relationship, or you will not have gone through marriage counseling and will still be bickering with your spouse about the same issues as usual. As it turns out, couples therapy is, in fact, an incredible investment of your time. 

Myth #7: Couples therapy costs too much money

At the top of marriage, counseling myths is that it costs too much money. Therapy can be pricey, especially without insurance. Even if you’re having serious marital problems, you might not be able to justify spending the money on marriage counseling. Maybe you and your spouse decide that spending that money elsewhere is a better investment, like if you were to go on vacation to try and spend some quality time together instead. Whatever the case may be, you and your spouse may have been fooled by the myth that couples therapy costs too much money.

To be frank, there’s one thing that will cost you a lot more money than couples therapy: divorce. Getting divorced is a huge expense considering the legal fees, loss of assets, and overall money spent. Many people end up bankrupt. It’s cheaper to pay for marriage counseling and avoid divorce completely. Besides that, paying for marriage counseling is an investment in yourself and your marriage. They say that money doesn’t buy happiness, but paying for therapy can allow you to live a happier and more content life. Even if you have to give up the funds for your dream vacation to pay for therapy, going to marriage counseling will be a much more rewarding experience in the long run. 

Myth #8: Couples therapy will dig up too much of the past

This myth is another one of those completely based on fear. You’re afraid that going to couples therapy will force you to admit to all of your past wrongdoings in front of the therapist. You have nightmares about your spouse pulling out a long paper scroll that lists the hurtful things you’ve ever said and done in the relationship. In this nightmare, you sit like a statue in your shame and self-loathing, unable to recover from the horrifying realities of your past. You don’t even know where to begin addressing the issues, and an apology won’t cut it. This nightmare prevents you from even thinking about attending marriage counseling. 

The good news is that the nightmare is just a dark and twisted fantasy. In reality, marriage counseling is nothing like that. Many people believe that the way to move through hurtful events of the past is to revisit them and try to resolve them. This is true in some cases, but it’s not what marriage counseling focuses on. Marriage counseling is there to teach you how to work together as a couple and overcome your issues.

Focusing on the past won’t help that much when it comes to addressing what’s going on in the present. Your therapist will be able to help you navigate your issues as a team. While some backstory will be important for the therapist to know about, the therapist will not spend your sessions forcing you to relive your every mistake. Instead of digging up the past, marriage counseling focuses on healing your marriage in the present.

Myth #9: A total stranger can’t help your marriage

It’s a common myth that a stranger can’t help your marriage. How would a complete stranger be able to help a marriage that they’ve never been a part of? Surely a therapist can give advice but wouldn’t know how to help, right? 

Wrong again! 

Usually, the people that believe in this myth are uncomfortable with the idea of marriage counseling deep down. The idea of being vulnerable in a professional setting just doesn’t sit right with them, so they reject the idea of marriage counseling. They may not understand what counseling is really about and are afraid to try it out.

Whatever the case for not wanting to go to marriage counseling. Maybe, a total stranger actually can help your marriage. Marriage and Family Therapists are highly trained professionals. Some have decades of experience helping married couples work through their issues. It’s very helpful to have a completely unbiased third party evaluate the issues in your marriage. When your friends or family members are the only people giving you marital advice, they will probably have a skewed opinion and tend to take sides. Bringing a therapist (albeit a stranger) into the picture allows your marriage to be viewed from a neutral and nonjudgmental perspective. 

Myth #10: Going to couples therapy means that we can’t fix the marriage on our own

The tenth and final myth may be one of the most challenging for some people. This myth preys upon your tendency to be a ‘fixer’ or a ‘doer.’ It makes you feel shameful when you cannot fix what’s broken. You truly believe that going to marriage therapy is admitting defeat as if you lost the battle and are raising the white flag. You may think that going to marriage therapy means that you and your spouse have failed at repairing your own marriage. 

The fix-it-yourself kind of people will be able to relate to the feeling of failure when they’re not able to fix it themselves. This feeling should not apply to marriages. There’s no such thing as ‘failure’ in marriages, only learning and growing through experience. Going to couples therapy is not admitting defeat at all. Though it may sometimes feel that way, it’s important to remember that couples therapy is not a last-ditch effort at saving your marriage. 

Marriage counseling is a powerful resource for making your marriage stronger and healthier. Instead of seeing marriage counseling as a sign of failure, consider how marriage counseling is part of the ‘fixing’ process. When you’re in marriage counseling, you still are doing the work on your own and putting in all of the time and effort to fix your marriage. When you’re in marriage counseling, you still are fixing the marriage on your own, just with the added support!

The Bottom Line

Marriage counseling is what you make of it. It’s important to dispel these common marriage counseling myths because they will negatively impact your experience. Your brain is an extremely powerful organ with an incredible ability to influence the outcomes of an experience.

For example, if you enter into marriage counseling truly believing that the therapist will pick aside, you will enter into the experience with a negative attitude. Even though the therapist won’t pick sides, you may still act hostile and defensive toward the therapist and towards your spouse. You won’t get the most out of marriage counseling because your experience is clouded by marriage counseling myths.

Your brain is convinced that you will have a negative experience, and so you do. This works oppositely as well. If you enter marriage counseling with an open mind, an open heart, and the willingness to learn, you might have an amazing transformative experience. You’re going into marriage counseling to mend and strengthen your relationship. As long as you focus on your goals as a couple (and you don’t pay attention to marriage counseling myths), you will reap the benefits that this process has to offer. 


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Sofia Bolanos

Sofia Bolanos has over seven years of experience in the mental health field and is an avid peer support counselor and volunteer. She also works closely with homeless populations in the San Francisco Bay Area and provides resources and support to vulnerable individuals within the community. Her goal is to utilize her gift of insight to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. As part of her commitment to that goal, she facilitates a monthly support group in which couples are strongly encouraged to attend. She received a B.A. in Sociology from San Francisco State University and is on track to continue her graduate studies in 2023. In addition to her passions for writing and helping others in their healing journeys, she enjoys oil painting, contemporary dance, plant care, and spending quality time with her dog.

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