Getting married is a lot like building a house. It is exciting to see each individual step getting completed, and each part coming into fruition from a plan in our head into a reality we can experience. There is always a lot of newness when building.
The marriage itself, on the other hand, is a lot like living in a house. With time we get used to the great benefits it gives us (like, say, not freezing), and it needs to be continuously maintained.
It is not as exciting, and problems are bound to come up no matter how you go about it. Add having kids on top of that, and marriage gets even more complicated.
In the U.S., approximately 50% of all married couples end up divorcing. This is the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world. After over a year and a half of married couples being stuck in the same four walls together, it is hard to imagine that number going down anytime soon.
But you don’t have to be part of that scary statistics. Marriage therapy is not just a last resort to keep your marriage alive but something that can help your marriage thrive.
Online couples therapy can assist in strengthening your relationship, help you communicate and understand each other better.
Because of that, it is something you should consider not only when problems in your marriage are running rampant but also when they start popping up.
Over the course of the pandemic, marriage and family counseling’s transition into the world of online therapy was quite successful. Today, online marriage therapy is a comfortable and needed solution for our times.
Do I Need Marriage Therapy?
Where do you draw the line between normal quarreling and potential cracks in your marriage? This is a very difficult question to answer, and so you must zoom out and take a big picture look at your marriage. Consider the following:
- Do you find it difficult to communicate with your spouse?
- Do you have conflicts often?
- Do you feel the need to be on the defensive in your marriage?
- Do you find yourself wanting to stay away from your spouse?
- Do you often criticize one another?
- Is your marriage suffering from trust issues?
- Do you feel like you are growing apart?
- Do you feel like love in your marriage is no longer mutual?
- Does your sex life feel dull or unexciting?
- Have abuse, addiction, or infidelity been present in your marriage?
If you answered “yes” to most of these, you and your spouse are in need of online marriage counseling. This doesn’t mean that you are bound to end up divorcing if you don’t reach out for professional help, but it does mean your marriage is at significant risk.
Is Marriage Therapy Really Effective?
The simple answer is: yes.
Research about the effectiveness of marriage therapy is abundant and fairly consistent in its findings. Marriage therapy is well-established as being effective in reducing distress in the relationship and having long-lasting positive effects on it.
However, it is important to understand that therapy is not a magic formula, and marriage therapy is not guaranteed to be successful, quick, or easy.
Therapy requires work, and online marriage counseling is no exception. The therapist will do their best to guide you and help you work things out, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you and your spouse.
What Should I Expect From Marriage Therapy?
Assuming both you and your spouse are willing to give therapy a try, it’s always useful to know what you’re getting into and what you can expect from it.
Regardless if you choose online marriage counseling or in-person, marriage therapy tends to have similar goals:
- Making sure anything that needs to be said does get said
- Learning to communicate clearly and effectively
- Learning effective conflict resolution, including anger management
- Setting realistic expectations and relationship goals
- Defining responsibilities
- Rekindling intimacy, passion, and romance
- Rebuilding trust
- Healing trauma and emotional wounds
How are all of these achieved? Through talking and open communication.
Talking to understand what the fissures in your marriage are about, where they come from, and why they keep coming up. Talking to make sure each side understands how the other feels, what their point of view is, and where they’re coming from.
It is the therapist’s role to facilitate all this talking by establishing a safe, accepting environment where both you and your spouse feel heard and understood, don’t feel judged for openly speaking your mind, and have an objective third party mediating your communication during the sessions.
As each marriage is different, each marriage therapy will be somewhat different as well, though some approaches are more common than others.
One of the more common therapeutic approaches is emotionally focused therapy (EFT for short). It is used for strengthening attachment and bonding. According to research, it can improve interactions and reduce stress in the relationship.
EFT utilizes a variety of different techniques to achieve those goals, including:
- De-escalation – identifying patterns of negative interactions that create conflict in your marriage and negative emotions related to attachment issues, and reframing them as forms of protest rather than being personal or negative for negativity’s sake.
- Restructuring – openly expressing emotions and reacting with acceptance and compassion towards one another.
- Consolidation – learning new conflict resolution and communication skills and strategies, replacing negative interaction patterns with positive ones, and creating a cycle of positivity, empathy, and compassion in your marriage.
What About Online Marriage Counseling?
You may be wondering if all of those things that happen behind the doors of the therapist’s house can also really happen in front of a laptop in your living room.
The short answer is that yes, they can, and they’re also just as effective.
The core practices of marriage therapy translate really well to online counseling because they generally don’t rely on the therapist being in the same physical space as you and your spouse or you and your spouse being in a dedicated space for therapy.
This is good news because online therapy has a lot of upsides, including:
- Being more affordable overall
- Not requiring you and your spouse to travel to the therapist’s office
- Not being limited by the selection of marriage therapists near you (if there even are any)
- The less-formal nature of doing therapy in your own space can make opening up easier
- Increased anonymity since no one sees you coming in and out of the therapist’s office
However, online couples counseling does have downsides that must be acknowledged.
An integral part of marriage therapy is a certain level of control the therapist maintains over the therapy session. If you and your partner start shouting at each other during an online counseling session, your therapist will have a harder time interfering and de-escalating the situation without a physical presence.
Similarly, your therapist can’t control any potential interruptions that may occur during an online therapy session, such as one of your children walking into the room and disrupting the flow of the session, causing one or both of you to feel unable to truly express themselves, and so on.
Such concerns are not present with in-person therapy, where a dedicated space free of potential interruptions is clearly established.
Online therapy also makes the therapeutic relationship of trust between you and your therapist harder to develop. Some amount of intimacy gets lost when things turn digital, and a significant part of body language also gets lost when the other person’s body is not fully visible.
This allows for the expression of hidden emotions to sneak by unnoticed, while with in-person therapy, those same expressions will be pointed out, discussed openly, and resolved.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Marriage and family counseling, be it in-person or online counseling, is a net positive to any marriage regardless of how many fissures you and your partner have and how deep they go.
These days, online marriage therapy has some very real and very impactful upsides, and its overall improved accessibility and affordability means it should always be at the very least considered.
No matter what you end up choosing, marriage therapy can help your marriage heal from any past events that damaged it, help you learn to effectively and compassionately communicate and solve conflicts with one another, and regain the spark of love, romance, and intimacy that often gets lost along the way.
At the end of the day, marriage therapy is a lot of work because marriage itself is a lot of work. But just like marriage, that work is definitely worth it.
Something as important as your marriage deserves all the help it can get.
At DoMental, many of our licensed therapists are always ready to help get your marriage back to a happier and more stable path. No matter where you are in the world or what issues your marriage is facing, online therapy is always an option worth trying.