If you've been recently granted a legal separation in Pasadena, you might still be considering working it out with your estranged spouse. Marriage counseling is in the news often these days, and soon Dr. Drew's " Relationship Rehab" will be coming to TV - so the interest in couples therapy is definitely high. But does it work?
Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Tea Leoni and David Duchovny and most recently Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher all tried couples therapy before calling it quits. Even Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries gave it a shot in their short time together. So given those results, you would think the answer would be "no." But experts say there are many variables as to why couples counseling may or may not work. Relationship counselors say many couples don't seek help until the relationship is beyond repair. Others point out that partners with low self-esteem have an uphill battle keeping a marriage together.
"Most people realize that getting rid of your partner does not get rid of the problem because half the problem is yours," says Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Make up, Don't Break Up. "You can walk out on your marriage but you can't run away from yourself."
Communication and respect are practices that are essential for making a marriage - and marriage counseling - work.
"More relationships break up because people don't know how to validate each other," says Dr. Eaker Weil.
Sometimes, though, relationship counseling serves to decide if the relationship is worth saving. Rapper DMX is appearing on 'Relationship Rehab' with his wife of 20 years, Tashera Simmons, to determine the future of their marriage. The couple has been separated since July 2010 and has some considerable baggage to overcome, primarily the six illegitimate children he fathered while married to Tashera. Although their relationship may sound extreme, experts say many couples enter counseling to decide if they should stay or go.
But nearly everyone agrees that relationship counseling requires time, dedication and humility.
"Counseling is about negotiating a new deal, a new way to interact and make decisions," retired family court judge Anne Kass writes. "Counseling is about change - how to change from ways that are causing us or others pain and how to accept changes that are a natural, unavoidable part of life. Divorcing couples who never even attempt to work it out with the help of counseling make me sad. They're throwing their marriages away without even trying. But divorcing couples who do try counseling need to be prepared to work hard, to be patient and to make and accept change."