web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Why Marital Therapy Often Fails

Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Stacy and George walked out of the marriage counselor’s office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex-wife wasn’t going away. The fifty minutes spent embroiled in a detailed account of their battle only fired up their anger – and the counselor’s request to remember how much they love each other wasn’t helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not coming back.

What went wrong? Too many struggling couples never seek therapy. But for many that do, marital counseling falls short. It’s easy to say it’s the couple’s fault; they weren’t committed enough, didn’t give it enough time or one spouse never had his or her heart in it in the first place. Any one of these reasons could be spot on, but doesn’t explain the whole story.

Marriage therapy fails for some clear significant reasons:

The Therapist Has Little Direction. This is the worst problem of all. Many therapists are good listeners, a crucial skill. But marital therapy needs a measure of leadership, and skilled listening has to be quickly and effectively turned into a deeper understanding of each spouse. Spouses in crisis are looking for direction, concrete steps to help them mend their problems. Through listening, the counselor needs to quickly assess what has gone wrong, explain this theory to the couple and chart a course for change.

The course doesn’t have to be completely figured out but must include an action plan and a time frame to accomplish the goals. In Stacy and George’s case, they had to be shown that the problem wasn’t his ex, but rather the lack of love Stacy was feeling from George. George had to recognize what he needed to change in order to help Stacy feel more part of a team instead of making her feel isolated. Stacy needed to recognize that her intensity and poor communication made George feel attacked, causing him to act defensively. These are serious issues that they needed to start discussing while learning specific tools to combat them. It would have led them to have greater insight on other issues as well.

Spouses Aren’t Asked to Confront Themselves. It’s helpful and often crucial for each spouse to understand his or her own relationship to love and marriage. The messages we receive from our parents’ interactions have everything to do with our expectations and actions in our marriage. There are therapists who believe one should not look to the past to explain or help change the present, but I find it necessary for each spouse to own his or her perspective so it can be examined and changed. We often act illogically and hurt our spouse when, in truth, all we want is happiness and love. Therapy is the place to start understanding the deeper reasons we might choose to behave in ways that don’t bring us all that warm love and fuzziness we say we want.

There Isn’t Enough Time. I’m often given a preamble of years of marital discord with immense crisis and I’m supposed to follow up with, “Let’s spend 50-60 minutes and get to the heart of this.” The weekly therapeutic hour (this commonly translates to a mere 50 minutes) just isn’t enough time to even begin to really solve and heal intense marital strife. Couples see marriage therapists as the “expert.” It’s the therapist’s job to assess how much time is necessary to accomplish the goals of therapy. Too many therapists are skittish about sounding too pushy, too self serving, too hungry for client hours, when in truth it’s their job to give it to the couple straight and tell them what is the ideal course. If the couple chooses not to follow that course, the therapist can either decline to help them or agree to try it in the manner that the couple wishes. However, a therapist should not agree to anything that he/she feels doesn’t give the proper time needed to help significantly.

My job is to turn this couple’s marriage around with changes that will last. I need to help them understand how much time is necessary for me to do that. I’m always happy to hear their thoughts and change my plan based on their circumstances, but I will often decline working with a couple if I feel there won’t be the time or commitment to make it happen.

About the Author: Check out Gary’s web program where he interviews couples who share their struggles and innermost thoughts and feelings at mgaryneuman.com. Facebook or Twitter Gary at mgaryneuman. M. Gary Neuman is a NY Times best selling author and a frequent guest on the Oprah show. He lives in Miami with his wife and five children.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Why Marital Therapy Often Fails”

  1. Great article! As a Marriage and Family Therapist I see many couples who had previous failed attempts at Couples Therapy. Having a roadmap is so important, and I rely on the empirically based Emotionally Focused Therapy method which addresses the underlying emotional processes that fuel distress in relationships. Here's more about Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: http://chappelltherapy.com/emotionally-focused-therapy-eft-for-couples/

  2. I have heard stories about couples who ended up angrier leaving a couples therapy session and i honestly often find myself wondering what went wrong when in fact couples therapy should be a way for couples to deal with their issues and resolved conflicts. This is an excellent post on why marital therapy often fails. Couples should really be given a lot of time when doing couples therapy for them to open up and talk things out.

    http://evolvingfamilies.net/

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Sections Stories
Collecting-History-logo

Undoubtedly the greatest manifestation of his antipathy was his infamous declaration: “[Expletive] the Jews. They don’t vote for us anyway.”

West-Coast-logo

Chaplain Winkler along with the other OJCB chaplains work tirelessly on a daily basis to ensure that all of the Jewish prisoners religious needs are met.

Eller-103114-Busy-In-Brooklyn

“I work around the Jewish calendar, always trying to think of creative spins,” noted Chani.

“Without a high school diploma, you couldn’t work as a garbage collector in New York City; you couldn’t join the Air Force. Yet a quarter of our kids still walked out of high school and never came back.”
– Amanda Ridley

My mother-in-law is totally devoted to her daughters and their children. Her sons’ children on the other hand are treated like second-class citizens.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is designed to tell the whole thousand-year story of the Jews in Poland.

This past summer was a powerful one for the Jewish people. I will always remember where I was on June 12th when I found out that Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I will always remember the look on my sister’s face on June 30th when she told me that they were found. I will […]

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

More Articles from Rabbi M. Gary Neuman
Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Sacrifice is the backbone of our souls. It indicates self-regulation for a higher purpose.

Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Spoiler Alert: Going to see the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, starring Tom Hanks is not like going to Disney World. Well, it is like going to Disney World if you go mid-August with your triplet toddlers, feed them all cotton candy, and lose your car because you forgot you parked in Pluto 7.394. It’s not a happy Disney movie.

Stacy and George walked out of the marriage counselor’s office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex-wife wasn’t going away. The fifty minutes spent embroiled in a detailed account of their battle only fired up their anger – and the counselor’s request to remember how much they love each other wasn’t helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not coming back.

The therapeutic alliance has always been about a firm connection between patient and counselor. There has always been one primary standard – physically meeting in an office setting. There might be some phone calls in between sessions or to bridge some vacation gap. But therapy has always been about a feeling of connectivity and there is no better way to do this than face-to-face.

Cindy is 43, successful, attractive, a dedicated mom, extremely caring… and she hates herself. She doesn’t readily admit this, but spend a minute inside her head and you’ll discover the resounding messages revolving around negative rants – everything from “I failed” to “I should’ve done better.” You wouldn’t know it from her behavior. She’s a high functioning, regular member of society.

As adults who were children of divorce know, healing does not occur through time alone. In fact, my research found that only 46% said they had a positive relationship with their fathers as adults.

Stacy and Michael walked out of the marriage counselor’s office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex wife wasn’t going away. The fifty minutes embroiled in a detailed outline of the battle only fired up their anger and the counselor’s request to remember how much they love each other wasn’t helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not returning for therapy.

From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/why-marital-therapy-often-fails-2/2013/10/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: