6 Reasons To Avoid Marriage Counselors Like The Plague

We have the highest divorce rate on the planet. Judith Wallerstein did a groundbreaking study on the effects of divorce on children, even into adulthood. She notes the following effects on children:

The children Wallerstein studied were more likely to struggle with drugs, alcohol, and sex. Fully half the children she studied were involved in serious abuse of alcohol and drugs, some as early as age 14. And they tended to become sexually active early, particularly the girls.

• Expectations of failure, based on an “internalized image of failure;”
• Fear of loss, due to earlier anxiety about abandonment by one or both parents;
• Fear of change, since experience has shown them it is usually for the worse;
• Fear of conflict, because it leads to explosions or the impulse to escape;
• Fear of betrayal, because they have seen so much of it;
• Fear of loneliness, sometimes leading to self-destructive choices in partners.

Naturally, we want to protect our kids from divorce so people attempt to resolve their problems by going to a marriage counselor. The dirty little secret in the industry is that you are likely to be worse instead of better after going to a marriage counselor. Here are some reasons why.

1. Marriage counselors have a horrendous 75% failure rate. That is defined as couples coming to them for counseling to save their marriage and get divorced in spite of the counseling.

2. Marriage counselors are not required to have any specific training in couples counseling, some of the most difficult counseling that there is.

3. Marriage counselors don’t really deal with problem resolution, they talk about feelings. This is about as effective as a reporter shoving a mic in front of a grieving relative and asking them how they feel.

4. Marriage counseling takes place one hour once a week. This is not effective. No other helping discipline works this way. If you went to a doctor to find that you have strep throat, you would not expect a doctor to give you just a little antibiotic and have him come back for months giving you just a little more antibiotic to cure the strep.

5. The reason that most couples divorce is the lack of conflict resolution skills. Traditional marriage counselors don’t teach this vital skill.

6. Too often marriage counselors are not marriage positive but take sides with one of the couple and suggest that they go ahead and get divorced. They don’t tell them about all the negative ramifications to children that the divorce will cause them.

The Solution
The answer is to search out marriage coaches. Marriage coaches deal with resolving problems in a short period of time. They are marriage positive. They tend to take a moderator or mediator role assuming an authority role and telling couples where they are doing it right or wrong. Marriage coaches have a much better success rate of 75%.
Many traditional marriage counselors are abandoning traditional counseling methods and instead are adopting a coaching paradigm in their practices. People like Michelle Weiner Davis of Divorce Busting and Dr. Harley of His Needs, Her Needs.

You can punch marriage coaches into Google to locate one. They will deal with you on the phone or on Yahoo IM. Barring that you could just email me at marrriagecoach1@yahoo.com .

19 Responses to 6 Reasons To Avoid Marriage Counselors Like The Plague

  1. kdaddy23 says:

    Good posting, my friend and quite brave, given what you do for a living. But I’d point out that counseling fails for some couples, not because of poor conflict resolution stuff, but because at least one of the people involved don’t feel it’s necessary to begin with. To that end, even the best counselor there is will fail when there’s not 100% buy-in to the solution to their problem. You first have to admit you have a problem and, really, who’s gonna do that? That’s an admission of failure on someone’s part; it means they really can’t handle their business. The missus might see the problem and know they need help but, you know how some men are – help? We don’t need no stinkin’ help!

  2. John Wilder says:

    Well it goes without saying that if both parties are not invested, then the marriage is doomed. I don’t count those people in the statistics.

    For the record, I am not a marriage counselor but a marriage coach and proud of the work that I do and my success rate. Most of my clients come to me after months of marriage counselling and are ready to throw in the towel.

    • wittywife says:

      Hi John – you mention your statistics, and you don’t count the folks in your statistics who don’t want to be in counseling.

      Where do you get your statistics from, and how do you remove those who don’t want to be in counseling from the marriage counseling failure rates from that statistic?

      • John Wilder says:

        I count the same for traditional marriage counselors. If both parties are not involved the marriage is generally doomed. I get the stats from self reported stats from numerous marriage counselors. I also get stats from people’s horror stories about marriage counseling. There are numerous reporters of this fact with stories to back it up.

        Blessings on you and yours
        John Wilder

      • wittywife says:

        I see what you’re getting at, but I’d be more clear when you post about this sort of thing. Those aren’t really statistics. That’s really more of just anecdotal evidence, right?

        I bet you I could talk to 100 people that say marriage counseling was wonderful. That doesn’t mean that marriage counseling works most of the time.

  3. kdaddy23 says:

    Why not count them? It’s a failure point, one of the reasons why marriage counseling doesn’t work, right? Perhaps the “assumption” is that if a couple engages you, they’re both invested in the process… and that may not be totally accurate – the investment is some percentage short of 100. Indeed, wouldn’t you agree that a failure point exists if one or both people don’t know if what you’re about to lay on them is going to work, even though if they agree, in principle, that seeing you is a good thing?

    Maybe a good next blog for you is to really explain the differences between a marriage counselor and a marriage coach? Perhaps you’ve done this already and I just missed it… but for those just tuning in, it could be educational!

  4. John Wilder says:

    I don’t count them because I have not worked with them, only one partner is willing to work and we both know that is generally a lost cause. I only count couples that I actually work with.

    I thought I did explain the difference between the marriage couach and counselor in this piece.


    • wittywife says:

      Well, then of course your success rate is much higher. Your clients both want to be there. That in itself is very positive for them since they’re already on the path to wanting to communicate and resolve conflict.

  5. […] 6 Reasons To Avoid Marriage Counselors Like The Plague « Marriagecoach1's Blog […]

  6. John Wilder says:


    Here is a link explaining things better than I. You won’t get approval from 100 people who have actually gone through marriage counseling. If you don’t believe me take your own poll.

  7. You would not get that answer from 100 people who went through marriage counseling.

    Here is a link from a best selling psychologist who explains it better than me and in more depth.


  8. Awesome post sally, it’s been a long-time since I’ve been on here. I see that nobody has lost their passion. Good to be back.

  9. I am not Sally but I will take the compliments as I am the author of the post.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  10. wittywife says:

    Executive Suites Orange County is a spam commenter.

  11. wittywife says:

    If you Google search their exact comment, you’ll see it on a ton of blogs. They’re just trying to drive comments back to their site.

  12. John Wilder says:

    If you are referrring to marriage coaches, yes they are trying to sell their services, that does not mean that their comments are false. I have had experience with 9 different marriage counselors all of whom were equally worthless, and worse than worthless, they failed miserably. Nost of my clients I get who have gone to marriage counselors for months and it only made it worse to the point that they were on the verge of divorce. You should check the facts before you make negative comments.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  13. Reader says:

    You state: “1. Marriage counselors have a horrendous 75% failure rate. That is defined as couples coming to them for counseling to save their marriage and get divorced in spite of the counseling.”

    Source please?

    • Hey Reader
      You are rigth to challenge me on this. Go to Dr. Harley’s site of His Needs Her Needs. I have also talked with other counselors. I did a poll on HARO and out of 25 people who responded, all of them but two had horror stories to tell about their marriage counseling experience. In addition, I have been to 9 different marriage counselors, all of them as worthless as the others.

      Johbn Wilder

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