Marriage Counseling Can Be Hazardous to your Marriage – Part 2

In our last posting we looked at how counselors who are not trained in working with couples or families can get overwhelmed when there is more than one other person in the counseling room with them.  What they typically do then is refer one of the spouses to another therapist for individual counseling, and continue to work with the one spouse in individual counseling.  The work that needed to be done in the marriage relationship is now postponed.

A second type of counselor that can be dangerous to your marriage is one who is “neutral” about marriage and divorce.  The counselor looks at what the benefits are of staying together as opposed to the benefits of getting a divorce.  They never think how that might be undermining the vows the couple made before God, their family, and their friends.  It is not a neutral stance–it is undermining the marriage.

An example that illustrates this would go like this:  I have a bias in favor of marriages being repaired and improved.  I am very up-front about my position. If you ask me how committed I am to our marriage, I will say 100% committed.  Now someone who hears that may point out that my position is not neutral.  And I would say that that is true.

Now imagine that you ask someone else how committed they are to their marriage, and they say they are “50-50”–they are ambivalent and they don’t know where they stand.  Technically we could say they are being neutral about their marriage.  But what would we say the chances are that they will stay married?  50-50?  Can you see how that so-called “neutral” position  is really not neutral–it is really a stance that is the beginning of undermining the marriage stability.

My bias towards repairing and strengthening a marriage does not mean that no matter what, I will press and pressure them to stay married.  I often say, “I don’t go home to their problems, so what they do as a result of the counseling is not mine to call–it’s in their hands.  But I am committed to doing everything I can to support the possibility that a couple can repair and improve their marriage.  I want to give hope, for when we hope for something, that may really be the beginning of change.

There is one way the counselor must be neutral, and that is that I can never take the position of siding with one partner against the other.  A counselor may do that temporarily in a session, but over the course of counseling, he or she must end each session in a neutral position between the spouses.  If you look back at my posting on triangular relationships, you will see why the counselor must avoid being triangled in –thus siding with one against the other.

In Part 3, we’ll look at two more marriage counseling concerns.

How do you see the question of neutrality in marriage counseling?  Does staying neutral between the spouses make sense to you?

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7 Responses to Marriage Counseling Can Be Hazardous to your Marriage – Part 2

  1. Trish says:

    I agree that neutrality is crucial, although it is important to be able to see that the counselor understands each of you and where you are coming from. The counselor my husband and I are seeing has directly addressed this issue with us and it is good to have that question of bias or favoritism dealt with. It also helps that my husband chose him, so he already trusts him, and I was able to get comfortable with him after a couple of sessions and some open communication about those topics.

    Thankfully, he has agreed to continue counseling us regarding communication and co-parenting even though my husband said last night that he thinks it would be too much work to even try to put the marriage back together and that he would be happier finding someone else and remarrying. And at least for now my husband has agreed to continue coming.

    Ironically, today is our 20th anniversary. What a way to celebrate, huh?

    • drstoop says:

      Wow, husbands have a way of doing that kind of thing. Hope you have a great celebration, and a break-through with your counselor!

      • Inocent says:

        Call me old-fashioned, but I still think many things that used to be taken into aocucnt some time ago exist for a good reason.1. Know the person for some time. Spend time alone to see if you can both have fun and talk about serious issues, too.2. Spend time with your family and them; see how they relate. 3. Spend time with her/his family, and see how you feel.4. Watch how they talk to each other and how they treat each other as a family. Little details can tell A LOT of how things are or have been in the past and also tell you how they will handle conflict.5. If you have important things in common, like religion, background, values, education and goals, this is a good thing.6. Respect, trust and honesty are key ingredients in a happy and healthy relationship. Dating is precisely for people to find out if they are happy with the other person or not .So if a person is unhappy, yet decides to get married anyway because they think the other person will change later on, they will be sorely disappointed and very miserable.7. Listen to your friends and family. Usually people who love us can see red flags we decide to ignore because we are in love and see things with our hearts, not our heads. Be wise.Good luck.

    • Flora says:

      You can always tell an expert! Thanks for contributing.

  2. Zulqarnain says:

    Can’t argue on this as you are the expert but I think It’s strange.

  3. Thank you all for your information and comments Regards ??.

  4. Mariah says:

    Great post, I conceive blog owners should learn a lot from this website its real user genial. So much excellent information on here :D.

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