Predicting Divorce. Counseling Before Wedding and During Marriage May Help Reduce Divorce Rate

Share Article

New research indicates that counseling or couples therapy before the wedding, or marriage counseling, can help reduce the likelihood of divorce.

If Britney Spears and her husband-to-be Kevin Federline actually had a fight about their wedding, then how they reacted to each other’s hurtful or angry remarks might predict the success of their marriage, according by a study released recently by Mari L. Clements, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the Fuller Theological Seminary. The study found that relationship skills, or lack thereof, predicted the success or failure of a marriage. The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey seem to handle conflict well on the hit show “Newlyweds,” but we only see what’s on camera. Jessica’s sister Ashlee Simpson, who will also have her own show, had a recent break-up with her longtime boyfriend actor/singer Josh Henderson. Perhaps the warning signs cited in the research were evident to the couple.

The recent study isn’t the only one to tie behavior to divorce rates or marital bliss. Divorce Magazine reports that a prior divorce increases the likelihood of a second divorce by ten percent to sixty percent, from fifty percent for those not previously married. This might worry Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; marital counseling, marriage therapy and even relationship therapy before an engagement can help partners understand what drives their interactions. An approach called Cognitive-behavioral therapy is especially effective in facilitating needed changes in patterns of problematic thoughts and behaviors that contribute to a couple’s potential for divorce.

“A large percentage of my clients are dealing with relationship issues and are realizing the benefits of thought reframing and behavior modification,” states Dr. Allison Conner, a New York cognitive-behavioral psychologist. “A couple in crisis can change thought patterns and behaviors, but it takes work and a desire to change.” President Bill Clinton acknowledges that after his infidelity, intensive marital counseling was instrumental in saving his relationship with Hillary and repairing issues with Chelsea.

A side benefit of a couple’s therapy that included a cognitive-behavioral methodology is that the state of mind of each partner typically improves in general, not just in regards to the relationship issues. This can be seen quite clearly in the interviews of the most motivated guests on the Dr. Phil show who have taken the steps to get counseling.

Dr. Conner emphasizes that, “Not all relationships can be rescued, but even if a relationship is too damaged to be saved, there are ways to lessen the traumatic process of the separation. Working towards an amicable split is even more important when a divorce is imminent or in progress and there are children involved.” Couples who divorce are still co-parents and need to deal with each other constructively during and post-divorce, which is often very challenging. “Since a divorce doesn’t dissolve the co-parenting relationship, an investment in individual, couples or family counseling can be a positive and healing step.”

In recent years, psychologists and counselors are more frequently assisting clients with relationship issues using the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) approach, which is currently the second most popular form of psychotherapy, the first being psychodynamic psychotherapy. Cognitive Therapy has shown better results in numerous research studies compared to other forms of therapy in helping people to change the negative thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to their psychological difficulties, including their relationship problems. Relationship problems can often contribute to depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues.

To interview Dr. Allison Conner regarding cognitive-behavioral therapy, relationship issues, divorce mediation or any other psychological problems, call (212) 258-2577, or e-mail [email protected]

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Dr. Allison Conner
Visit website