If you are here to know if couples therapy works, it’s because you are considering it, but you are skeptical about it. The answer is YES! Couples therapy does work.
People are usually skeptical about it because up to 1980s, couples counseling had the only success of 50%. The methods used had limited success. Since then, studies were made, and new techniques were implemented. The rate of success is now 75%.
As you may notice, it’s not a perfect number. The reasons for it are:
There are couples in abusive relationships (either emotional or physical)
Couples are already in the process of separating
Besides that, couples counseling is indicated for couples. If you are still wondering “Does couples therapy work?”, here is what you need to know to save your marriage from failure.
- You need to be willing to:
- Learn some basic communication skills
- Become self-aware
- Become emotionally vulnerable to each other
- You need to stop seeing your spouse as an opponent but rather as a teammate, as seeing your partner in the same team as you will make you increase cooperation and be more emotionally vulnerable;
- You have to feel empathy toward each other
- Last but not least, you need to be willing to own your part of the problems in the relationship as well as about bringing positive change
This is necessary because the technique used in couples therapy is Emotionally-Focused therapy (EFT).
EFT is a form of therapy that focuses on adult relationships and attachment/bonding between two people. With the help of a therapist, the couples will look out at patterns in the relationship. The end goal is to take steps to create a healthier relationship by developing a more secure bond and trust.
EFT focus on the present and what changes can be made now. It has there steps:
- De-escalate the negative interactions to help people see and understand what is going on in the relationship
- Restructuring interactions by discussing problems with the help of the therapist, so the correct language is used. Here the couple learns how to turn towards each other and address their needs. They become more open and responsive to each other.
- Consolidation. Here the therapist helps the couple to see how they got in the negative patterns and the way they got out of them and can continue to have these types of conversations in the future.
Besides the therapy done in the office, you can also improve your marriage at home by doing some exercises.
At Home Couples Therapy
Make a magic hour once a week
The purpose is to leave your arguments to be discussed at one time designated of the week. It helps you to see what fights really matter to you. At any time if you are arguing about something that you can’t agree on, put it aside. If it is really important, you will remember if by the end of the week. At that point, you can reopen the argument in order to move forward.
In many cases, you both will forget about the arguments you had. If it is forgotten it clearly isn’t important.
The one thing to have in consideration is that using this technique you can have unsolved issues for days at a time. That is one thing you don’t want. Certain issues must be discussed immediately. Those are the ones which have more impact on your relationship. If you begin to argue about something minor with your partner, it can be pushed to the “magic hour.” With time you will learn to prioritize.
Besides taking the time to discuss your arguments, you should use a little bit of this hour to talk about your relationship. During all of this time, no matter what you talk about, you should have no distractions: no cell-phones, no kids, no tv.
You should start your conversation with questions like this:
- How do you feel about us today?
- Is there anything you feel incomplete about from this past week that you would like to talk about?
- How can I make you feel more loved in the coming days?
The goal is to have a healthy discussion about yourselves and the relationship through the answers given.
Note: We also recommend to see: 10 Most Common Problems in Marriage
Do Trust Falls
If your marriage is lacking trust, this exercise is for you. You have probably heard a lot about trust falls especially in team building exercises. Since you are a team (you are both working to make your marriage the best it can be), this exercise is perfect.
All you need is a blindfold. One of you stands in front of the other with the blindfold covering their eyes. Then the one who can’t see falls backward trusting the other will catch him/her.
You might say this exercise is easy and silly and that “of course I trust my partner! I would let him/her catch me at any time!”
The reality can be a lot different. If you don’t trust that person, you will be tempted to look back, turn around, and if you have the blindfold, you will be tempted to take it off.
When you successfully complete this exercise, you will be able to trust your spouse with anything, especially your deepest thoughts and feelings.
Never Go To Bed Angry
This may seem advice given by an old man and “what does the old man know?” Actually, he knows the best way to keep the marriage working. He is probably married for 50 years now.
Of course, sometimes you might feel like you want to sleep on it. By doing so, two things will happen: you won’t be able to have a proper sleep, and that will lead you to have even more issues in the morning since you couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Sleeping without solving the problem will make it more clear in your mind, leading you to escalate it even more.
Write An Appreciation List
This exercise will restructure the way you think and feel about your partner.
You write down five things that your partner does, and you appreciate, followed by five things your spouse could do to make you feel more loved and secured in the relationship. This way, couples will be able to focus first on the good qualities and then on the issues that they can improve.
Unplug From Technology And Have A Talk Session
Technology like smartphones, tablets and social media are a great way to connect with the world. But, for you to be able to connect with people that are right next to you, you will need to unplug from the rest of the world.
It’s hard to get your partner’s attention when he/she is always checking its phone.
Every day, for 10 minutes, unplug yourself and talk with your spouse. Talk about things you love and appreciate about them. Don’t interrupt each other. This exercise builds self-esteem and creates positive thinking.
Do Team Building Exercises
Teams always work towards the same goal. If you see yourself as part of a team, it will be easier to work on your marriage. If you and your partner have difficulties working together, you should do team building exercises. Anything that makes you work together is valid: playing an instrument, learning a new language, going to the gym, hiking… Anything you can think of doing together is a way to improve your work as a team.
Have Date Night
No matter how long you have been in a romantic relationship, you will benefit from a consistent date night. It brings positivity to the relationship and allows couples to plan activities together. Also, date nights are a way to connect both emotionally and physically.
Whatever you do on date night, make sure you are always focusing on each other and having a great time.
Eliminate Stress Triggers
Stress is a common cause of marital problems. What you need to do is to stop arguing and find whatever is making you stressed. When the source is found, don’t argue about it, nor put down your spouse. Instead, find a way to solve those issues and work on them as a team.
Note: If you are not willing to spend your time and resources on couples therapy and counseling and want to Fix Your Marriage then you should give a try to one our article on Fixing Marriage without couples therapy. Leave a comment and do share with your friends and family.