By Jonathan Decker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Terminal illnesses are treated most effectively when they are caught early. Patients who resist a trip to the doctor and put it off often wish that they hadn’t. Disease often does the most damage when it’s left unchecked over time. This is also true of marital problems and marriage counseling. While many things can certainly be resolved and healed between the couple without assistance, some issues can prove fatal to the relationship if help isn’t sought, and sooner is always better than later.
There’s something of a stigma against marriage counseling. Many couples feel ashamed to admit that they need help. Others underestimate the severity of their problems, often trying to distract themselves with work, self-improvement, or child-rearing. They think that, if they just give it time, the marriage will fix itself. The fact is it often doesn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting the need for help. None of us makes it through life completely unaided (and if we try, we miss out on connection and growth).
Many couples come to me “in the eleventh hour,” as a last-ditch effort before they get divorced. In cases like this, one (or both) partners “have had enough.” They are already checked-out and just want to say that they tried everything. They approach therapy with one foot already out the door. I always wish that they hadn’t waited so long. I can’t force anyone to work on their marriage against their will, and at this point their may already be broken.
Some couples come back from the brink. It can be done, but only when both partners are still fighting for their union. When both partners want to save the marriage, make it thrive, and are willing to do whatever it takes, I’ve yet to have a case where we couldn’t make that happen. I’ve worked with many to restore their relationship and take it to new heights. It happens, and it’s beautiful and gratifying. So come in early, before either of you is “too far gone.” If you feel like it’s too late, I assure you that it may not be. I’m here and I’m ready to work with you.