The ONE Approach To Fixing Your Marriage That Might Actually Work

Photo: WeHeartIt
Which Marriage Counseling Method Is Better?

Is your relationships drowning?

If you're considering marriage counseling, it's important to know that counseling methods come in two basic modes — what we call the "upstream approach" and the "downstream approach." Let's illustrate with a story:

A marriage counselor is fishing in the Missouri River. Every 30 minutes or so, the counselor hears a voice from the water shouting, "Help me, help me. I'm drowning!"

The counselor throws down their fishing pole on each occasion, swims out into the river, and saves the drowning person. This episode happens over and over for several hours. Then, it happens again.

At about the time of the next "drowning," along comes a second marriage counselor. The second marriage counselor keeps on walking upstream, to the astonishment of the first marriage counselor who, indignantly asks, "Why aren't you helping me save this drowning person?"

To which the second counselor replies, "No, I am going upstream to find out who is pushing all these people in!"

There you have it — two distinctly different approaches to marriage counseling.

Having conducted over three decades of marriage research, we can only support the upstream approach to marriage counseling.

The old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies here. It is better to keep a marriage from getting into trouble in the first place than trying to fix it after the problems are full-blown and the life of the relationship is in true jeopardy.

There are, of course, various approaches to saving a marriage in trouble. But, we believe an upstream approach to building a strong marriage works FAR better that the downstream approaches that often fail. Why?

Because your efforts should center around learning the best way to create (and sustain) a good marriage versus fixing a bad or broken one.

So, as you seek support for your relationship, find a counselor who believes in working with a couple before they're drowning in the depth of their problems.

"Upstream" therapists always work to help you and your partner create a good marriage with deep love and positive interpersonal communication. Do your best to get it right in the first place (upstream) rather than trying to invest all your energies in fixing your marriage later (downstream). 

As our readers know, we have been researching and writing about successful marriage for more than three decades. Our work has taken us to all seven continents of the world. (No small accomplishment, indeed.) And our very happy 49-year marriage speaks for itself. Both personally and professionally, we know a great deal about what it takes to keep a successful marriage thriving. 

As such, we aren’t naive enough to believe there is no merit to both counseling approaches, but working hard to build a love that lasts goes a long way to ensuring marital and relationship success. Upstream is better! Go for it!

Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz, America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts, help couples build happy, rock solid marriages. Take their marriage quiz, Building a Love that Lasts, to see if your relationship has what it takes to be great. 

Explore YourTango