When Chester Van De Graaff became the first president of the American Psychological Association in 1911, he also made a commitment to provide marriage counseling. He said in his address to the association that he hoped that marriage counseling would become “the most powerful instrument known to social science to encourage mental and emotional well-being.” That is a powerful statement for any one who is experiencing marital problems. It also makes you wonder how anyone could oppose counseling as the basis for strengthening a marriage! It seems obvious that Van De Graaff knew something that other psychologist did not, and in this article, I will point out what he might have known or at least was unfamiliar, and that is that marriage counseling has many benefits for the couple who participate in it.
Many people question the wisdom of marriage counseling and wonder if it will work for them. If that’s the case, how can they know if it won’t work? And if Van De Graaff knew all about it when he was President of the APA, why didn’t he recommend it? The fact is that he never recommended marriage counseling. He talked about the need for mental stimulation as part of a healthy marriage, but he never mentioned the role that the counseling service plays.
For example, in his famous address to the association, he said that marriage is one of the greatest institutions created by man. It has endured centuries of abuse from infidelity to neglect and, in some societies, it even has been relegated to that status, although now it is often considered second class status. Some people, just like Van De Graaff, believe that counseling can help a marriage survive these troubles. However, more likely than not, the people who suffer the most from marriage problems don’t get counseling, even though it would have saved their marriages from failing. There are many people around the world who experience a great deal of marital misery, and they don’t seem to need counseling the way that those in happier households do.
Some may say that there is no use giving marriage counseling to those in trouble, because they already know that they aren’t getting help. However, the statistics clearly show that there are many couples who need help, and who desperately need it. Perhaps the problem is that the people who seek marriage counseling are seen as weak or desperate, and so they go for it when other people would just look the other way. Even worse, some couples who seek marriage counseling never get through the process. Some never find a therapist at all.
One way to save a marriage after divorce is to seek out marriage counseling with an outside therapist. Counselors have the expertise to help people talk through their issues and come up with creative solutions to save their marriage. They can help to make changes that will strengthen your marriage instead of tearing it apart. Many people who have successfully undergone marriage counseling sessions were able to keep their marriages together after going through a messy breakup, and they’ve been able to continue to live happily ever after.
A third way to save a marriage after divorce is to do marriage counseling with a trusted friend. Many people fear the idea of being uncomfortable with a total stranger, but you can often find a great resource in a close friend. While you may not feel comfortable talking about your marital problems with a complete stranger, you’ll likely find that your friendship will make the experience much easier. Simply sharing that you need help saving your marriage and that you’re willing to try to help the relationship become stronger is a great first step towards saving your marriage.