Investing in Your Marriage!
I’ll be honest. Coming to see me for couples therapy is expensive. I charge a hundred dollars per hour and typically see couples every week for the first three months that I work with them. I do this because this results in the most positive outcomes when working with serious relational issues, such as infidelity, pornography use, and other serious contextual stressors. I don’t tend to have much success when I only see couples every once in a while. Couples therapy is an investment in time, participation, and money. But, is it worth it? Many couples say that their marriage is worth working on, but there is a lack of congruency between what they say and what they do. However, those who do persevere tend to reap what they sow.
What Does Marriage Counseling Cost?
Every week I field calls from folks whose marriages are in crisis. This is my reality … few couples call me to tell me that they have a great marriage and just wanted to let me know. Okay, nobody does that. Often the first question people ask is how much I charge. What does marriage counseling cost? When I tell them, the next question they ask is how many sessions they will need. My answer typically is that I do not know, but that if they are calling me in crisis their situation will probably not resolve itself overnight. It will take work and commitment.
The Cost vs. Other Things
When I sense that folks really do want to change yet hesitate about the investment, I typically ask them what their marriage is worth. The big question is what they will be willing to sacrifice in order to transform their relationship? I recently had someone quit therapy because they needed a motor for their bass boat. I asked how much it would cost and they replied seven thousand dollars. Apparently catching bass was more important than their wife, home, pension, etc.
What is even more interesting is that investing in couples therapy is a much better deal than divorce. Forbes notes that the average cost of divorce in America is about fifteen to thirty thousand dollars. The most successful couples that I have seen in my private practice spent an average of three to four thousand dollars and stayed together. They reported having a better, more nurturing relationship than before. I need to make it clear that there are times when differences cannot be reconciled, or when physical abuse and/or substance abuse issues prevent couples from working through their struggles. But this is not everybody’s story, and much of what I see is couples who have other priorities than their marriage.
Premarital Counselling and Planning for the Future
I do some premarital counseling, but typically people do this in order to check a box and say “We did it.” Some think that premarital counseling is a magical protection against difficulties and divorce. While premarital work can be very helpful, it often stops there and there is little if any form of accountability or a safe haven to turn to when things get tough. And, trust me they will – no marriage will be free of stressors. One suggestion I advocate for the couples who see me for premarital counseling is to then check in every once in a while. This allows the couple the space to work on things before twenty years go by and they find that repair is more difficult and costly.
I have also wondered what would happen if couples were to set aside money for a rainy day … or for a crisis in their marriage. If we know that relationships are as difficult as they are rewarding, would it not be wise to set aside funds in case we need a higher level of support?
Christian Counseling Can Change Your Marriage
As a Christian counselor, I think that we need to be creative and find ways to prepare for the tough times in our relationships. I also believe that it is helpful to see couples counseling as an investment.
“Rain Drop,” courtesy of Anna Langova, All-free-download.com, Public Domain License; “Pacific Beach,” courtesy of the author, Michael Lillie