By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
4. Making marriage too difficult to understand when, in fact, “simple things matter.”
We have been saying this for years – our 26+ years of research on successful marriage has revealed some simple truths about marriage. And the simple truth is this – successful marriage is, in fact, simple to understand!
The problem now and always has been this – marriages fail most often because couples do not do the simple things required to make their marriage work! Understanding the simple things required to make marriage work means nothing if you haven’t learned what the simple things are or you refuse to put them into practice.
Make no mistake about it – successful love and marriage is an accumulation of having done the simple things. You cannot buy a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day once a year and assume that that is enough. Acts of kindness, respect, love, and caring must occur every day of the year – multiple times during each day – and not just on those special holidays.
The best marriage counselors know this – do the simple things day in and day out in your marital relationship and you can make your marriage work. If you don’t, your marriage will be in peril. Surprise, surprise!
5. Choosing sides in a marital dispute during counseling.
If you are in marriage counseling, look for this action from you marriage counselor – if they take sides – if they choose the perspective of one of you over the other – get a different counselor!
Doing your best to resolve the challenges your marriage faces is an admirable goal. Working hard to make your marriage work is a good thing. However, if your counselor chooses sides, it is time to move on.
Settling or resolving a marital dispute(s) requires objectivity on the part of your counselor. Do not be mislead or taken down the primrose path by a marriage counselor with an agenda. The best marriage counselors understand that unconditional positive regard for their clients is of the utmost importance. Making judgments, taking sides, and advocating for one or the other can be destructive. Choosing sides can fracture the trust that is required in marital counseling.
The best marriage counselors check their opinions at the door. The old axiom says, “First, do no harm.” Choosing sides is harmful. The best marriage counselors know better.
6. Failing to understand the simple notion that most marriages are worth saving, but not all.
We have said for years that most marriages are worth saving, BUT NOT ALL! Most couples that go into marriage counseling truly believe that their marriage is worth saving and can be saved. In their heart of hearts, they want their marriage to be successful.
But the truth is, some marriages are NOT worth saving. Some marriages have travelled so far down the path of no return that there is no hope. Some marriages are beleaguered by abuse – physical and mental – that they cannot and should not be saved. The consequence of saving such a marriage is destructive. Sometimes, saving the most abusive of relationships is downright dangerous.
In the end, the best marriage counselors know that their job is to be objective, open-minded, and honest.
Marriage counselors should know their limitations – it is not their job to save every troubled marriage that comes their way. Their job is to be a professional counselor and not a counselor with an agenda.
7. Interjecting personal opinions and experiences into the counseling session.
The research on marriage counseling over the decades is clear – the best marriage counselor’s hold back expressing their personal opinions and experiences during the marriage counseling session.
Here is a telltale sign – you are having an exchange during your therapy session and your counselor says something like this – “Well, my wife and I have never experienced what you and your spouse are experiencing.”
The question is, who cares! The relationship your marriage counselor has with his or her wife or others is irrelevant to your marital relationship. And frankly, the interjection by the counselor of his or her own personal marital relationship teeters on the edge of unethical behavior on their part.
Worse yet, their personal experiences do not necessarily address the challenges you and your spouse face. Personal opinions are just that – personal opinions. As a client, you deserve better. As a client, you deserve professional behavior from your marriage counselor. Their personal opinions should take a back seat to their professional judgment.
People participating in marriage counseling are very vulnerable. They deserve the best counseling they can get. Counselors are not selling snake oil. They are selling their expertise, their professional judgment, and their years of training as professional counselors. What they are not selling is their personal opinions and personal experiences.
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of the best-selling book and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships
As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With 26 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 43-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.
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