Faith Therapy: Saving Your Marriage

Faith Therapy: Saving Your Marriage

We’re Thinking about Divorce. Is It Worth Considering Marriage Counseling?

Q: My partner and I are on the brink of splitting up. Is it worth it to go to therapy before we move forward with a divorce? And how do you know if it’s even worth trying to save?

A: In my work with couples on the brink of separation/divorce, without immediately obvious deal-breakers such as physical abuse or addiction, it takes about four sessions to conclude that a couple cannot be helped and that separation may be necessary. When I work with a couple is only an opportunity to tell on each other and spew venom, I know we’re in trouble because my role has become distorted, and therefore, hurtful rather than helpful.

Signs of this include disdainful, if not hateful, facial expressions toward the spouse; inability of one or both spouses to be soothed by anything their partner does or says; impenetrable defensiveness where one spouse refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing and casts blame incessantly; frequent interruptions by either spouse that frustrates attempts at reconciliation; resentment and an inability to forgive the sins of the past where genuine attempts at repentance have been made; or the big emotional check-out” by one spouse (particularly the woman because it’s rarer), which constitutes a passive, deadly retreat.

John Gottman, author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,”says there are four main indicators of divorce: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The success of therapy depends on the desire of each spouse to reconcile. The best-trained therapist, the most caring minister, the most supportive friends and family cannot override the will of one who desires to remain hostile, bitter or disengaged from a spouse. When there’s not enough grace or graciousness toward a spouse then marriage counseling is likely to be ineffective. Couples get out of therapy only what they’re willing to put into it.

Are you currently thinking about divorce? Learn more about how we can help.