Marriage on the Rocks? Here are 5 Reasons Professional Counseling Works and 5 Reasons it Fails

BY: - 2 Oct '17 | Marriage

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Before getting married, my husband and I went through a pre-marital counseling of sorts. With another couple, we sat and discussed our desires, expectations, and understanding of this lifelong commitment. The idea was to prepare us for as many potential pitfalls as possible. Through a spiritual lens, this couple aimed to teach us how to navigate some of the murky waters we may one day find ourselves in.

Armed with scripture and undying passion, my man and I entered a world of wedded bliss, eyes wide open…or so we thought. You see, despite all of our preparation, nothing could prepare us for the onslaught of issues that rocked our boat around year nine. Navigating murky waters seemed almost a joke as we were tossed around by any opportunity to be misunderstood, disappointed, or hurt. The time eventually came where professional counseling was the only option. But could this individual truly help us bring our marriage back from the brink of disaster?

Now, 16 years in, I look back on that time and praise God. I mean, we have friends who, when their relationships were seriously challenged, also sought professional intervention. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to turn things around and right the ship. I’m not sure what made the difference for us. But statistically these days, couples seeking help from a therapist have a 50/50 chance of making it. With that in mind, here are 5 reasons professional marriage counseling works for some, and 5 reasons it fails for others.

5 Reasons Professional Counseling Works

  1. Both partners agree to seek and participate in therapy as scheduled with a mutually accepted counselor or therapist. This first step is important. While not impossible, it will be exceptionally difficult to fix a damaged relationship if only one party is on board with both the method and the therapist.
  2. Both partners take responsibility for his/her role in the marital conflict. If both partners are willing to see their part in the gradual decay of their relationship, it becomes that much easier to turn things around. The transition to change and healing, though still challenging, becomes less daunting.
  3. Both partners share similar goals and expectations from this experience. If the endgame, healing and reconciliation, is the same for each person, then they will be pulling in the same direction each time they meet with their counselor. As a result, all three parties working together can help them achieve the ultimate goal.
  4. Both partners commit to and cooperate with the treatment being given. By recognizing the professional training of their chosen counselor and then following their advice, a couple can begin mend their broken relationship.
  5. Both partners work together as a team to achieve their clearly defined goals. When each person in the relationship pulls their emotional, mental, and spiritual weight, the challenge to rehabilitate their relationship becomes half as difficult.

5 Reasons Professional Marriage Counseling Fails

  1. One person forces the other to agree and attend therapy sessions. If only one person is really on board with the help from a professional, then the partnership is destined for failure.
  2. The therapist may not be the appropriate match for the couple. One size doesn’t fit all in marriage counseling. It’s important to recognize if the professional you are dealing with is able to competently meet and understand the needs of both partners. If not, move on.
  3. One individual has a different agenda for the therapy sessions. If one partner’s objective is to merely lay all the blame at their spouse’s feet, then counseling won’t work. Each person must take responsibility.
  4. If either party is unwilling to forgive and move on, the therapy sessions will end in failure. Your therapist won’t drag you kicking and screaming to forgiveness. But they will make it clear that forgiveness is essential for healing. If either party is unwilling to let go of the past, the therapy sessions will be futile.
  5. Unclear goals and unspoken expectations will set both the couple and the therapist up to lose. It’s important for both partners to know and communicate what they expect from their sessions. Without a clear vision for the desired outcome, the path to recovery will be impossible to map out.

When all is said and done, the success or failure of professional marriage counseling begins and ends with each partner. If both are on board, willing to fully commit to treatment, and willing to find the right professional, the possibility of success is great. Reconciliation can only be hindered if any of those things fall out of line. So, if your marriage is on the rocks, pay attention to the signs and decide for yourself which path you want to follow.

BMWK, if your marriage is on the rocks, are you ready to turn things around?

About the author

Joann Fisher wrote 156 articles on this blog.

Joann Fisher has been a writer and editor for both print and online newpapers and magazines for the last 10 years. She now serves as a Writer/Editor at BMWK and lead Editor for The Joy Network.


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Female Breadwinner? 7 Signs Your Relationship is at Risk of Romantic Bankruptcy

BY: - 5 Oct '17 | Marriage

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By: Dr. Shane Perrault and Dr. Dawn DeLavallade 

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 40% of American households containing children have a woman as the higher earner (and the number of female breadwinners is 60% in the African American community). Female breadwinners are defined as single mothers and married women who earn more than their partners or husbands.

This global revolution in male/female relationships has been steadily growing over the last four decades. Additionally, with more women than ever before attaining college education and settling into high-paying careers, this shift most likely represents a new era as opposed to a trend.

But how does this new era in cultural norms where women are more likely to be represented in the boardroom impact your romantic relationships, or satisfaction level in the bedroom? There certainly is no straightforward, or one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, when a woman is in a relationship with a man who earns less money, there are a few tell-tale signs that their relationship’s stock might be falling and at risk of becoming emotionally bankrupt.

1. Your Relationship Feels Competitive

More often than you are comfortable with, you may feel an air of jealousy, or notice frequent displays of pettiness, envy or even aggression on the part of your mate. If so, you may be dealing with a man who is having a hard time adjusting to being with a woman who earns more. In contrast, he may feel that you don’t respect him, or somehow look down on him.

2. One or Both of You Have Lost Your Authenticity – with Each Other or Yourself

Perhaps it’s gotten to the point where you feel like you just can’t be you around your mate. For example, you may find yourself hiding your job promotions or other accomplishments, or “dummying down” to make him feel smarter and more in charge.  Alternatively, you may be acting meeker or more submissive because traditionally, wives are second-in-command. Letting the man take the lead as the head of household may seem like a way to even the playing field. Conversely, you may notice that your man seems to be losing his mojo or sense of self-worth because he isn’t measuring up on this indicator of success. I caution both of you against losing yourself in the process of trying to please or accommodate each other.

3. You Suffer in Silence

Some of the most consistent feedback I hear from women who earn more is that they have a real catch-22 on their hands. They are damned if they don’t discuss the tension stemming from their higher income and success, and damned if they do. They may feel as if disclosing this secret to someone outside of the marriage constitutes betrayal. This challenge frequently intensifies feelings of isolation, when actuality 40-60% of their counterparts may be sharing a similar experience.  Also, women must realize that their partner may be suffering in silence too.

Click here for a free online training for female breadwinners called $he Makes the Money!

4. You’re Not Your Best Self When He’s Around

Stress can arise from many sources in relationships where women earn more. For example, are there financial woes stemming from your partner’s inability to contribute at an acceptable level, leaving you to pay the lion’s share of bills? Is there inequity in the household chores when you are both fatigued from working, but you are expected to now work the “2nd Shift” to do “women’s work” when you get home. (This phenomenon was popularized by the book, The Second Shift). Consequently, you may become short tempered, overwhelmed and feel unappreciated, while he may be feeling emasculated because he is being asked to take on chores that he finds humiliating. You both need to ask yourself if there are ways you might be unwittingly impacting each other’s comfort level when you are together.

5. You’ve Isolated Yourself From Friends and/or Family

To minimize the tension caused by him feeling uncomfortable, you may forego participation in professional functions with your colleagues, outings with friends, and you may only rarely attend family events. For example, I once had a client that stopped appearing at her college alumni events because her spouse didn’t feel comfortable around her “uppity college friends.”  Similarly, he may be going through a rough patch, and has isolated himself from friends and family because he feels like less than a man.

6. Your Romance, Sex Life, & Intimate Connection Has Been Significantly Shutdown

Sometimes, it can be difficult for both you and your partner to be in these non-traditional roles, and this awkwardness trickles over into your bedroom. Perhaps it is hard for you to be turned on by a man whom you give an allowance. On the other hand, maybe his attraction towards you has waned because he has come to see you as a mother figure because he must ask you for money. Accordingly, playing the stereotypical wife or husband role has become difficult or impossible for you both.

7. You No Longer Feel Your Partner Will “Man-Up”

That is, you feel that if you don’t bring home the bacon, your family won’t eat. You may feel that he lacks either the know-how, drive, or ability to put your family’s needs on his shoulders. Additionally, you are struggling to find other ways that he adds value to you or your family that offset the income disparity.  As a couple, you both may have to come to terms with the reality that some professions just pay more than others, and to have a successful partnership or marriage you will have to learn to leverage other strengths to transcend that reality.

If these telltale signs feel familiar to you – relax for a moment. Take a deep breath. Your relationship is not necessarily doomed to emotional bankruptcy, although there is certainly room for improvement.

As a society, we are all on a steep learning curve when it comes to gender roles being blurred and redefined. Couples could benefit greatly from trying to lean more on each other, having candid, non-defensive conversations, and remaining open to getting professional help. No matter what challenges you face, know that divorce rates can drop as much as 30% with an appropriate intervention. It’s never too late to live your happily ever after!

Click here for a free online training for female breadwinners called $he Makes the Money!

About the Authors:

Dr. Shane Perrault, PhD is a Marital Psychologist and Author of The Black MANual. You can catch him online at www.AskDrShane.comDr. Dawn DeLavallade, MD is the Author of She Makes More and can be found online at Both can be found at

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BMWK Staff wrote 1259 articles on this blog.

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