In case you were wondering why marriage counseling is so ineffective, Time Magazine has the answer. Most marriage counselors believe, as an article of faith, that conflict should be addressed, not avoided.
Thus, they promote and encourage dramatic conflict. Since these conflicts tend to undermine martial harmony, the results are often not very good.
Obviously, the problem is not limited to people who undergo marriage counseling. The media has promoted this idea, thereby infecting the ambient culture. People who have never seen the inside of a counselor’s office are likely to believe that when you have conflicts with your spouse, you must talk them out.
Time Magazine explains the conventional approach:
It’s a familiar mantra that marriage counselors rely upon in advising their couples — talk about conflicts and try to resolve them, rather than letting suppressed feelings fester until they poison a relationship beyond repair.
This implies that a spouse who does not want to have a serious conversation about a conflict is not doing his or her part to heal the marriage.
As you might imagine, the conventional wisdom is wrong. New research has shown that in the best and long-lasting marriages, couples ignore their conflicts. They put them aside, unresolved, and move their conversation to more neutral ground: they discuss what they are going to have for dinner.
Researcher Sarah Holley examined the conversational patters of couples who were over 60 years of age and who had been married for a long time. She discovered that these couples avoid contentious discussions, see arguments as less important and try to engage in positive experiences.
Other studies have shown similar results. Some attribute it to the wisdom that comes from age and experience. A successful marriage builds on harmonious communication; it does not found itself on endless arguments. It is not based on resolving conflict, but on managing differences.
Naturally, these studies have not persuaded the marriage counselors who still adhere to the conflict resolution, talk-it-out model. Some have suggested that when a couple is not fighting their marriage must be dead.
Besides, if marriage counselors were not provoking or directing drama, they would not know what to do with their clients.