Often, I've heard well-meaning friends say that acknowledging a problem's existence is the first step in fixing the situation. Yet, in my experience, that's easier said than done. Anytime your partnership hits a patch and you consider seeking outside help, it's natural to wonder if you're opening up a can of worms. I know I delayed therapy because I was afraid that once my partner and I started down that path, I might not like where it could end up. However, there are plenty of reasons why going to marriage counseling doesn't mean your relationship is doomed — even if your heart or brain would have you believe otherwise.
Perhaps television shows like Divorce and Married or films like Blue Valentine and The Overnight seem to weave a hopeless narrative that tells society couples who are at odds with each other aren't likely to have an easy road ahead of them. But if you can no longer ignore the signs that you and your partner need couple's counseling, don't let your mind immediately jump to the worst case scenarios. Though no one is promising that one trip to the therapist will solve all your marital woes overnight, the outlook isn't nearly as grim as you might think.
As it turns out, motivation is perhaps the biggest factor when it comes to whether or not you and your partner's union is doomed. Dr. Jennifer Kunst, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, told Psychology Today that for couples therapy to work, "both members of the couple must be primarily motivated by love and a desire to do better." Counseling isn't a death sentence for your marriage so long as each party is going into things with the intention and determination to create a healthy relationship. Just like going to the gym, if you have a buddy to go with, you and your friend are more likely to stay committed to your workout routines. The same goes for marriage, it would seem.
Echoing the sentiment that counseling doesn't mean your marriage is doomed, Dr. John Gottman, a relationship and marriage expert, told The Huffington Post that "motivated couples who know each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams are couples who make it.” Though there's no magic equation to guarantee or even predict how couples counseling will go, it's reassuring to know that your marriage isn't necessarily doomed just because you decided to go to therapy. If you're motivated, invested, and genuinely want to put in the time and effort into cultivating a healthy marriage, therapy could be just the boost you and your partner need.