Marriage Counseling

5 Myths About Marriage Counseling

Debunking five Marriage Counseling Myths and Misconceptions. Improve your relationship with your significant other.

Marriage counseling, or couples therapy, is a resource many couples turn to when they experience relationship challenges. Despite its widespread use, marriage counseling myths persist. Let’s debunk five of the most common myths.

1. Myth: Only couples on the brink of divorce go to marriage counseling.

Debunked: Many believe that couples only turn to therapy when they’re about to call it quits. In reality, couples attend counseling for a myriad of reasons. Some want to strengthen their bond, while others may want to work through specific issues like communication or intimacy. Dr. John Gottman, a leading researcher in marital stability, notes that the average couple waits six years before seeking help for marital problems, often leading to more entrenched issues (Gottman & Silver, 2015). Seeking help earlier can lead to more effective outcomes.

2. Myth: Counseling only works for certain types of couples.

Debunked: The misconception that only certain “types” of couples—like those without children or those in short-term relationships—benefit from counseling is baseless. A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy showed that couples therapy is effective for diverse couples across different races, relationship lengths, and socioeconomic statuses (Roddy, et al., 2019). Therapy outcomes largely depend on the willingness of the participants and the expertise of the therapist, not the couple’s background.

3. Myth: The therapist will take sides.

Debunked: This is one of the marriage counseling myths that we see frequently. Professional therapists are trained to remain neutral and provide an environment where both partners feel heard and understood. In a study on therapeutic alliances in couples therapy, researchers found that therapists actively maintain balanced alliances with both partners, ensuring no one feels “ganged up on” (Symonds & Horvath, 2004). Therapists aim to help couples develop understanding and empathy for each other, not to pick winners and losers.

4. Myth: Marriage counseling is just an expensive way to talk about your feelings.

Debunked: While discussing feelings is part of the therapeutic process, marriage counseling offers much more. Therapists provide couples with tools, strategies, and insights to address underlying issues and patterns. Research has shown that couples therapy can positively change relationship satisfaction, communication patterns, and individual well-being (Lebow, et al., 2012). For many, the benefits of counseling far outweigh the costs, leading to healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

5. Myth: If marriage counseling doesn’t work, the relationship is doomed.

Debunked: While marriage counseling can be profoundly beneficial, it’s not a guaranteed fix for all relationships. Some couples may find that, after therapy, they’re better off parting ways. This isn’t necessarily a failure of therapy. For some, counseling helps them realize they want different things or that their core issues are irreconcilable. What’s crucial is that the decision comes from a place of clarity and understanding. As Finkel et al. (2017) argue in their research, sometimes the most compassionate outcome is recognizing when to end a relationship, ensuring both partners can move forward in the healthiest way possible. In many other cases, couples move on from therapy and find their own way to improve their relationship.


Marriage counseling myths and misconceptions can deter couples from seeking help when they need it most. By understanding the reality of couples therapy, more couples might be encouraged to take the step, whether it’s to mend fractures or to strengthen their bond. After all, investing in one’s relationship is one of the most profound commitments one can make.

If you live in California and would like a supportive therapist to help you sort out your marital conflicts and parenting, please reach out to Tabby through the contact form.


  • Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Harmony.
  • Roddy, M. K., Rothman, K., Cicila, L. N., & Doss, B. D. (2019). Why do couples seek relationship help online? Description and comparison to in-person interventions. Journal of marital and family therapy45(3), 369–379.
  • Symonds, D., & Horvath, A. O. (2004). Optimizing the alliance in couple therapy. Family process43(4), 443–455.
  • Lebow, J. L., Chambers, A. L., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). Research on the treatment of couple distress. Journal of marital and family therapy38(1), 145–168.
  • Finkel, E. J., Hui, C. M., Carswell, K. L., & Larson, G. M. (2014). The suffocation of marriage: Climbing Mount Maslow without enough oxygen. Psychological Inquiry25(1), 1-41.

By Tabitha Chapman

Tabitha Chapman (a.k.a Tabby) is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and a Professional Clinical Counselor, with Life Source Affordable Counseling Services. As a therapist, her priority is to encourage her clients to find their own solutions and take the reins of their healing into their own hands. She is there as a guide to how to use those reins. She is focusing her career on helping parents improve their relationships with their children as well as helping people restore or rebuild strong attachments to themselves as they heal from trauma.

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