5 signs that couples therapy won’t work

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Divorce

Nobody wants to just “give up” on their marriage. Once you’ve made a commitment to another person, it’s only natural to do everything in your power to keep the relationship alive – even when you’re going through difficult times. That’s why a lot of people try couples therapy when they’re having marital problems.

However, couples counseling can’t fix everything. There are times when, according to the pros, couples therapy just isn’t likely to bring about the changes people need to have a happy, fulfilling marriage. These include:

Your spouse isn’t there willingly

There’s a difference between nudging your spouse into therapy and dragging them there each visit. If your spouse isn’t a willing participant in the process, they won’t have the desire to put the work into making changes. If they aren’t willing to put in the work to save the marriage, that says your relationship is no longer one of their priorities.

You have different agendas

If you’re using therapy to try to find a way to communicate better and your spouse just wants to vent their feelings and have the therapist tell you that you’re “the one with the problem,” that’s a signal that your spouse is more invested in being “right” than in resolving your marital difficulties. 

There are irreconcilable goals or values

All of the therapy in the world can’t help if a couple has simply parted ways on an ideological level. If you and your spouse have simply developed vastly different world views and you want different things (like one of you wants children and the other does not), couples therapy may help you make your peace – but it can’t restore your marriage.

One or both of you need individual therapy

You can’t really be happy in a relationship with someone else when you aren’t happy with yourself. If one or both of you need to work out your individual issues, whether that means resolving old traumas or seeking help for mental illness, couples counseling is likely to be ineffective.

You don’t feel safe

A therapist’s office is supposed to be a safe space to explore your feelings, but you can’t feel safe anywhere if your spouse is violent, threatening or otherwise abusive. If you’re afraid to reveal your real feelings in therapy because of what might happen later, then therapy cannot help.

If you’re contemplating ending your marriage, it can be easier to make good decisions once you have experienced legal guidance on your side.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.


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Mia Poppe, Esq.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner