The Cost of Marital Counseling vs. Divorce (Part 3)


I always asked the couples whom I ended our relationship on good terms what are the walk-away points for them to continue their relationship without me around. Here is some wisdom I learned from the couples who walked out my office happy.

1“Don’t wait too long. We wish we had decided to come earlier.”

“I might feel satisfied with the relationship. However, if my partner is not, that means “we” are not satisfied.”

“It might not be important to me. However, if it is important to him/her, it is important to me enough for me to listen to it.”

“We have gone too far to be a couple together. However, it is important that we are still partners together to be our children’s parents.”

(The list goes on and one….)

A sidenotes for the last “wisdom”. By all means, not every relationship works out. However, you still need to work out your communication as partners to your children’s parents together. So, the marital counseling may not save you the money to pay the divorce attorney. However, if you can work out your communication and conflict resolution, it certainly saves your children’s money to pay for the therapy after they grow up. Research shows that: it is not the divorce that have the impact on the children. It is how the parents handle divorce and after the divorce that have the impact on children.

Another side note, just in case you are wondering why I see people for two hours initially. This actually came from my Gottman level I and Level II training. During the training, I learned that according to their research findings it is more effective to most effective to have 80 minutes session and to put more emphasis on the beginning of the therapy. They also suggested having the “thorough evaluation” at the beginning of the therapy. The research findings made sense to me in a lot of ways.2

Let’s think about this. Psychology starts with Freud saw a patient for an hour. After the managed care system implemented in the US, the insurance company continues this tradition. No matter you are coming for the individual or couple therapy, you are locked in for an hour (50 minutes) per session and once a week. However, the traditional 50 minutes a session is set up for the individuals. When you have a couple, two people in the room, you have 3 entity to work with, both partners, and the relationship. Therefore, the traditional 50 minutes a session only allows you to talk about your issues but not enough time to complete the intervention. It usually takes about 4 -6 hours to completely know a couple (both individuals and their relationship history). Therefore, the traditional weekly 50 minutes session only left the couples walking out of the therapy with unfinished issues week after week. Next thing you know, it has been a month and nothing is resolved yet. A lot of couples therapist struggled in balancing giving the couples some guidance to take home while getting to know the couple. However, if you don’t know a couple (two individuals plus their relationship) well enough, how do you give them proper guidance? As the result, both the couples and the therapists are struggling.

Have you ever wonder: is it the couple’s therapy doesn’t work for your relationship or we (the couple and the therapist) are set up for failure because we are trying so hard to fit into the system that are not fit for the couple’s therapy?

Majority of the time, after I explained the reasons behind the longer hours of therapy in the beginning and worked out the structure with them, and 3 months later, we were able to accomplish something that generally takes longer period of the time to accomplish.

So, now that you have walked with me on my thoughts in the last couple of days with Couple A and Couple B, I hope you are not going to wait like they did. TAKE ACTION before it is too late.


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