Problems can also be so pervasive or overwhelming that it’s difficult to know where and how to proceed. When a marriage reaches that stage, not knowing how to make it better is frustrating if not downright depressing. Still, most persevere. In fact, couples who end up divorced believed early on that would be the eventual outcome, but still they hold out for 10 or more years. And all the time they’re searching for solutions, or some evidence that the good outweighs the bad.
Before taking the final step toward divorce, many couples will seek outside help. But professional intervention has not always been helpful. Many find their problems are not solved at all, or the same problems return later on, and that means back on the couch. In fact, the relapse rates are so high that some pundits argue that marriage counseling just doesn’t work at all.
But that’s an unfair criticism. In fact, it’s really not surprising that success rates are low. Typically, only when a relationship is on its last legs will a couple try a marriage counselor. But by then it’s often too late — one or both partners may already have at least one foot out the door. Counseling is then more of a formality; a process to follow that alleviates guilt and permits both partners to believe they tried their best.