This one is for people who think that it’s better to wait until things get really bad before getting into marriage counseling. This is not a good idea. The time to go is sooner rather than later. The earlier one gets beneficial help, the cheaper, in terms of pain and dollars, the cost.
John Gottman, the author of How Marriages Succeed and Fail, said in a workshop that the average couple that seeks marriage counseling experiences difficulties for six years prior to making the call. Unfortunately for all too many of them, at this point it’s too late and the goodwill and caring that were present in the early stages of their relationship have eroded beyond repair. All that remains is to declare the marriage dead and give it a proper burial. When asked why they waited so long, a large percentage of these couples claimed that they felt they couldn’t afford therapy and hoped that things would eventually improve on their own.
This is the same kind of naive thinking that leads small children to believe that if they close their eyes, no one can see them. Not only do problems fail to disappear when we ignore them, generally, they get worse. The sooner we get the help we need, the more quickly we can resolve things. In considering the difference in cost between a messy and drawn-out divorce and a typical period of marriage therapy, there’s no comparison.
Get help early
The sooner you get good help, the more quickly things can begin to turn around. The longer you stay entrenched in unproductive patterns, the more stuck you get and the longer it takes to become free of them. More importantly, the risk of reaching the point of giving up on the marriage grows with every day of unresolved pain. Doing all that you can do on your own to strengthen your marriage is always the first step, and it’s often the last one. It’s just as important, however, to be able to recognize when your best efforts are insufficient to heal a breakdown. It’s likely that you’ve reached that point if repeated attempts to improve things continually result in frustration, pain, and/or resentment. If it becomes evident that your best efforts aren’t working, run – don’t walk – to a good marriage counselor!
There is, of course, no guarantee that getting counseling will cure what ails your marriage, but it definitely improves the odds, particularly if you can catch things in the early stages. Whatever it costs to get free from the impasses that all relationships occasionally experience, it is much cheaper in terms of money, health, and spirit to pay upfront rather than after the final breakdown. Getting help when you need it might be the biggest bargain of your life.
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