What Happens In Marriage Therapy? What To Expect

What to expect in marriage therapy

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This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Marriage is one of the most serious commitments you can make in your life. Marriages are meant to last a lifetime.

You may disagree on parenting styles, your spending, work schedules, how many kids you want to have (if any), your relationship with your in-laws, and so much more.

It’s possible for you to face more obstacles in your marriage than you did in your dating relationships as there are more things for which you share the burden of responsibility.

During such a long, close period of commitment and devotion, there are bound to be some bumps along the way.

Marriage counseling offers space for mediation and solutions for couples facing difficulties in their marriages.

What is marriage therapy?


Marriage counseling is defined by the American Psychological Association as “couples counseling with partners who are married. Also called marital counseling.”

Couples counseling, a key part of the definition, is defined as “therapy in which both partners in a committed relationship are treated at the same time by the same therapist or therapists.”

Importantly, marriage counseling is brief, is solutions focused, has attainable goals, and functions with a goal to end.

Marriage counseling isn’t exclusive to marital arguments and grievances.

Instead, it can address a vast range of things such as depression, parenting, marital issues, and individual problems as well.

Generally, marriage counseling is intended to operate on a short-term basis and work towards solutions for problems.

Visit BetterHelp to learn more about Marriage Therapy:

What to expect in marriage therapy


Typically, marriage counseling is provided by a marriage and family therapist, or MFT.

These therapists are people with a great deal of experience who have spent around thirteen years in the field of marriage and family therapy.

They may have training and licensing in both psychotherapy and family systems and are able to provide diagnoses to their clients.

Marriage and family therapists can often offer a broader, more holistic perspective on therapy so as to provide a couple with well rounded, mind, body, emotion, and spirit geared solutions to their marital difficulties.

Marriage and family therapists receive an extensive amount of education, studying through the graduate or doctoral level and perform a minimum of two years of experience.

Benefits of marriage counseling


Marriages are lifelong commitments. As time goes on it’s not unnatural for disagreements or issues to arise in a marriage.

Marriage counseling allows a couple to address whatever issues may arise, be they about parenting, fidelity, philosophy, or otherwise, in a safe, mediated environment.

Because you have difficulties in your marriage, that does not mean that your marriage is doomed to fail or that you are not in a “good” relationship.

It simply means that you and your spouse are both human, with normal, human responses, such as jealousy, frustration, stubbornness, and exhaustion.

Do not begin to question your choice of spouse after each pithy disagreement– you can work through this.

Moreover, marriage counseling helps couples work towards solutions and conflict resolution instead of arguing or ignoring the problem.

Many people may fear that resorting to marriage counseling means that their relationship is in serious jeopardy or that it makes them a “bad couple.”

On the contrary, choosing to pursue marriage counseling means that you are committed to preserving the viability and commitment of your relationship.

Even more, it means that you are willing to work past issues – to give them visibility and voice as opposed to ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist.

By facing marital issues head on, couples can avoid the resentment that can come along with burying their issues.

As well, marriage counseling opens the door for you and your partner to address other concerns that may come up during counseling, and unpack them in a safe, healthy environment.

Choosing to seek marriage counseling when you detect a problem can help you prevent it from boiling over, thus strengthening your marriage as well as the structure and longevity of your relationship and family.

Notably, seeking marriage counseling doesn’t have to mean that something is wrong with your relationship or that it’s heading toward divorce.

Instead, marriage counseling can be a great way to nip potential problems in the bud early on. For example, maybe you and your spouse both have crazy busy work schedules.

You feel like you barely see them anymore despite living in the same house, the chores are piling up, and it’s taking its toll on your relationship as well as your mental health.

This could be a great time to introduce marriage counseling into your relationship.

In this scenario, neither of you is necessarily upset with the other since the blame doesn’t really lie with one side or the other.

Instead, you are seeking a marriage counselor to help you bridge a gap in communication and time management.

The threat of divorce doesn’t have to loom on the horizon for you to seek marriage counseling for your more basic, everyday concerns.

Choosing to address disjointedness in your marriage earlier can help you prevent bigger, snowballing problems down the line.

Marriage counseling can also give your children a healthier perception of your marriage.

If you choose to discuss your relationship issues in the environment of marriage therapy instead of in your home, you may ensure that your kids don’t see you and your spouse fighting throughout their childhood.


Not everyone will need marriage counseling but if you do, don’t fear seeking it out. It doesn’t have to be a big deal or the “beginning of the end.”

While some might feel scared that pursuing marriage counseling is a sign of a downhill trend in their relationship, the experience of marriage counseling can be quite the opposite.

In fact, in some cases, marriage counseling may be what brings your relationship even closer.

Marriage counseling doesn’t have to be scary or nerve-wracking. It can be a wonderful experience that allows you to grow closer to your partner and preserve the relationship you value so deeply.


Recommended reading:

How To Solve Relationship Problems Without Breaking Up

How To Prevent Divorce In Your Marriage

5 Reasons To Consider Individual Therapy For Relationship Issues

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.

As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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