Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

Does Marriage Counseling Work

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Does Marriage Counseling Work? When it comes to marriage counseling, not all problems are created equal. Rarely is one person responsible for 100% of the problems, but neither is it always 50/50 as many people would like to believe. When there is strong denial and blame shifting, it’s hard to make any real progress and couples counseling at this point will get you nowhere.

This is the reason we have developed a process where every couple that comes to us starts with a thorough assessment where we determine what the underlying issues are and a treatment plan that in most cases does not start with couples counseling. Why does our marriage counseling so often involve working with the individuals separately?

What we have found is that if there are issues such as emotional abuse, narcissistic tendencies, addictions, infidelity, past trauma, etc. these issues need to be addressed first before any kind of couples work can take place. Couples counseling will not be effective until the underlying issues are treated. Without first establishing emotional safety, couples counseling will only make things worse. Dr. Hawkins talks about the need for triage and explains why couples counseling may not the best course of action for you.

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Marriage can be a beautiful journey, filled with love, companionship, and shared experiences. However, it’s not uncommon for couples to face challenges along the way. These challenges can range from minor disagreements to more significant issues that threaten the very foundation of the relationship. When couples encounter difficulties, many turn to marriage counseling as a means of finding solutions and restoring harmony. But does marriage counseling really work?

In this article, we’ll explore a critical aspect of marital problems known as mutualizing and its impact on the effectiveness of marriage counseling. We’ll break down the concept of mutualizing and provide insights into why it can be counterproductive when addressing emotional abuse and narcissistic abuse within a relationship.

The Problem of Mutualizing: Making All Problems Equal

Imagine you’re in an emergency room at a hospital, and there are three patients in separate bays, each with their own medical issue. One person has a painful sliver under their finger, another has a broken arm, and a third is experiencing a life-threatening cardiac arrest. In this scenario, the severity of each person’s condition is evident, and it’s clear that not all problems are equal.

In the medical field, professionals practice triage, a process where they assess the urgency of each situation and prioritize treatment accordingly. The person with the sliver under their finger will receive care, but the patient with the broken arm or the cardiac arrest must be treated as higher priorities. This approach is essential to saving lives and providing appropriate care.

Now, let’s draw a parallel to the context of marriage counseling. Often, in relationships plagued by emotional abuse and narcissistic behavior, there’s an attempt by the abuser to make all problems equal. They might deflect blame, saying, “Well, you do that too,” or “It takes two to tango.” This attitude can lead to mutualizing the issues within the relationship, creating a false sense of equality and shared responsibility.

Three Important Truths About Mutualizing

To truly understand the impact of mutualizing on marriage counseling, we need to acknowledge three essential truths:

1. The Need for Expert Triage: Just as medical professionals assess the urgency of medical conditions, experts in the field of emotional abuse, like therapists and counselors, must conduct triage in relationships. Emotional abuse, characterized by patterns of control, domination, and manipulation, must be addressed as a top priority before effective couples counseling can take place. It’s crucial to recognize that not all problems within a marriage are equal in severity.

2. Trust in the Process: If you’re the victim of emotional abuse or narcissistic behavior, it’s essential to step back and trust that your needs will be met in due time. Accept that addressing emotional abuse is the first step in the healing process. Trust that, with the guidance of a professional, you’ll eventually have a voice in addressing other issues in the relationship. It’s a step-by-step journey towards a healthier marriage.

3. Facilitate Urgent Issues: As the emotional abuser, it’s imperative to recognize the urgency of eliminating abusive behavior. Understand that you must deal with your emotional abuse before any meaningful progress can occur in couples counseling. By doing so, you pave the way for healthier communication and collaboration within the relationship.

In summary, mutualizing issues in a troubled marriage can hinder the effectiveness of marriage counseling. Instead, adopting a triage approach, where emotional abuse is addressed as a top priority, can lead to more meaningful and successful couples therapy. Trust in the process, step back when necessary, and facilitate the elimination of urgent issues. Only then can couples counseling truly become a two-way street towards healing and strengthening the relationship.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: Can a Separation Save Your Marriage?

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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