Day: May 23, 2023

  • What is the Purpose of Marriage?

    What is the purpose of marriage?

    Is it to find your “soul mate” or your “other half?”

    Is it to find fulfillment or to “make you happy?”

    We all have different ideas when it comes to the purpose of marriage, in this article we wanted to share some of our thoughts with you.

    First, why don’t we look at the topic from a historical perspective…

    The Purpose of Marriage Historically

    Marriage from a historical perspective looks nothing like its modern-day variant. Historically, marriage was by in large a vehicle for strengthening one’s social and economic standing.

    Marriage provided a stable environment for raising children, maintaining a household, and improving survivability. It was also a means of creating social and community cohesion. Marriage served as a mechanism to bring families and communities together through shared celebrations, rituals, and traditions. From a religious or spiritual standpoint, for many cultures marriage also represented a sacred union that was blessed by deities or higher powers.

    The purpose of marriage from a business or economic standpoint could be argued as being even more significant.

    Economically, marriage was a means to preserve wealth and build alliances. The purpose of marriage was to improve one’s social status and family lineage. Marriage was often used as a tool to create alliances between countries, partnerships between businesses, and friends of once enemies.

    Our point is this…

    Historically, couples never expected their marriage to be “fulfilling” or a source of “happiness” until reason years. In fact, love and companionship have only become an important aspect of marriage within the past few hundred years or so.

    So what does the purpose of marriage look like today?

    The Purpose of Marriage Today

    In contrast to our historical view of marriage, today we expect our partners to make us feel complete, and we expect marriage to be our place for happiness and fulfillment.

    Emotional connection and companionship are paramount…

    Marriage is not only support to be the place to create a family, it’s supposed to be the structure that provides us with everything we seem to be missing.

    Within marriage, we expect to have…

    • A best friend in our partner
    • Passion, emotional, and physical intimacy
    • A partner in our family/business obligations
    • Collaboration and emotional support
    • Legal and financial benefits
    • Personal growth and self-actualization

    Historically, we relied on a number of relationships to support our emotional and developmental needs. Today, many of us expect all of this to come from our marriage or partnership.

    If you don’t mind, we’d like to share our perspective.

    The Five Purposes of Marriage

    Ultimately, you’re going to have to decide the purpose and meaning of marriage for yourself.

    That said, as relationship coaches (with 40 years of combined experience) we do believe that marriage or long-term relationships have five universal purposes.

    Meaning that in addition to the purpose you assign to marriage, our long-term relationships help all of us enhance our human experience in FIVE primary ways. Oh, and just so we can keep this semantically simple when we say “marriage” you can insert any long-term romantic relationship in its place.

    The purpose of marriage is to…

    1. Provide us with a vehicle for personal growth and healing
    2. Help us find the deepest form of connection/intimacy
    3. Create a life with unique meaning and purpose
    4. Enhance a life that you have already come to love
    5. Add to your spiritual/religious experience and journey

    Within our coaching programs like Crystal Clarity Online, these are exactly what we help our clients to understand and achieve.

    Let’s discuss each of these concepts.

    One. Marriage is a Vehicle for Growth and Healing

    In and of itself, marriage will not heal you or “make you whole.”

    Quite the contrary actually.

    Marriage creates a level of intimacy that tends to reveal all of our wounds and flaws. The problem is that you and I tend to push or project these problems onto the relationship when in reality they’re problems to be resolved at an individual level.

    Sure, we should serve one another in marriage. But it’s our responsibility to keep ourselves happy.

    Yes, we can be sensitive to one another’s wounds and triggers. But it’s our individual responsibility to heal those underlying pains. This is a concept that we’ve specifically discussed in this article, “How Do I Stop Being Triggered?”

    Marriage, or more accurately the level of intimacy experienced within marriage, acts as a giant road sign that’s continually pointing us toward opportunities for growth and healing.

    But we have to recognize these road signs for what they are…

    Opportunities to look within, rather than try to criticize or seek solutions outside of ourselves.

    In this way, marriage is a vehicle that can provide us with opportunities to heal and grow in ways that no other relationship can.

    Two. Help us Find the Deepest Form of Connection/Intimacy

    The level of connection and intimacy that can be experienced within marriage is like no other.

    Obviously, physical intimacy is a big contributor to this. But beyond intimacy, the proximity and time spent with a spouse is unlike any other relationship we’ll experience.

    This means that marriage provides us with the unique opportunity of experiencing connection and intimacy in a way that no other relationship in our lives can provide. But enjoying that benefit and opportunity will require us to deal with our individual attachment wounds and traumas that often have us fearing such intimacy.

    Again, this brings us back to Purpose #01.

    When our underlying wounds prevent us from opening up and being vulnerable, we’re pointed back to an area where healing is required.

    Three. Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose

    Once again, marriage is a vehicle to create a life of meaning and purpose that you define for yourself. This is going to look different from one person to the next.

    You might find meaning and joy in creating a family and raising children.

    Whereas I might find meaning and joy in traveling and running a business together with my spouse.

    Like anything that’s meaningful in life, marriage is going to be difficult and challenging. At times it might even be painful (although this is not a requirement). But in general, “difficult” is a requirement of meaning and purpose.

    Things that are meaningful and worth celebrating in life are by definition difficult.

    It’s why we celebrate graduating from University.

    It’s why becoming a Doctor or Lawyer holds significance.

    And it’s also why creating a successful marriage and family life is something to be cherished from the inside, and admired from the outside.

    Four. Enhance a Life You Already Love

    A lot of us look at marriage as a destination.

    We think of marriage as that final act that will help “complete” our lives and create fulfillment in and of itself.

    In reality, marriage will do nothing other than enhance the life you’ve already created.

    Sure, you finding a partner might temporarily make you feel complete or “happy.” But after the honeymoon phase of the relationship has come and gone, you’re life will still be your life.

    This means that if you’re not in love with the life you have before marriage, you most certainly won’t appreciate the life you’ve created after marriage. Contrary to popular belief, marriage doesn’t solve anything in and of itself. In fact, in cases of an unhealthy marriage, it will actually add to your problem set in life.

    On the flip side, if you enjoy your life and what you do before marriage, you’ll find that having a partner and a healthy marriage will make everything you do that much more meaningful.

    With your partner, you’ll…

    • Celebrate your wins as well as mourn your losses.
    • Share ideas and relate to one another’s unique perspectives.
    • Enhance each of your experiences with a companion who understands you at your core.

    But marriage in and of itself is not going to be the destination, nor will it be the fix for a life we feel is “missing something.”

    Five. Add to Your Spiritual/Religious Journey

    For many, marriage is the final piece (or a significant step) in one’s spiritual or religious journey.

    Within many religions, it’s believed that it’s through marriage that one attains the ultimate levels of enlightenment.

    Regardless of what your beliefs on this subject might be, marriage can be an incredible experience for couples that share similar underlying beliefs. But to enjoy this benefit, a couple needs to ensure that they both share the same underlying Core Value driving their belief system.

    For example, let’s say that you’re Mormon.

    In order for you to enjoy the benefit of sharing in your religious/spiritual journey, you’d both need to be Mormon for the same underlying reasons. These “underlying reasons” are your actual Core Values and it’s what enables you to see eye-to-eye.

    For example…

    Let’s say you’re Mormon because you genuinely believe it’s a path for you to get closer to God.

    On the other hand, your spouse is Mormon because their family was Mormon and that’s where their friends and social network are as well.

    Despite belonging to the same religion, you don’t share the same underlying Core Values. This means that the experience each of you shares within day-to-day activities is not going to be something that you both can relate to.

    Within this situation, you’re likely to get frustrated at your spouse for not paying attention at church, or not taking their religious studies seriously. On the other hand, they’re likely to be frustrated at you for being too serious about what they simply view as “tradition.”

    Despite the fact that both of you are Mormon, you will not see eye-to-eye on spiritual experiences and religious matters.

    So again, to yield this benefit of marriage, couples need to ensure that their spiritual/religious beliefs are driven by the same underlying Core Values. Assuming they are, marriage can be a beautiful way of enhancing a couple’s spiritual journey.

    Our Conclusion

    Our conclusion is simple.

    We believe that the purpose of marriage goes far beyond “completing us” or “making us happy.”

    And that’s a wonderful thing!

    Because the purpose of marriage MUST go BEYOND these temporary feelings and emotional states.

    If we don’t feel a strong sense of purpose and meaning behind marriage, then when things get difficult, we’ll lose sight of what we’re trying to create.

    And make no mistake, things will get difficult.

    In those moments, we must be able to remind ourselves that what’s meaningful will be difficult. We must be able to find the purpose for our marriage that extends BEYOND what we might be feeling at any one particular moment.

  • Does Couples Therapy Work?

    If you’ve been in couples therapy for any extended period of time, you’ve no doubt asked yourself the question, “Does couples therapy ACTUALLY WORK!?”

    You know the feeling right?

    You’re in session. You share your concerns and frustrations about the relationship. Your partner shares their concerns and frustrations about the relationship. Then the both of you look to the therapist for the solution…

    They respond with something typically cliche like, “You both need to communicate better with each other.” And as unsatisfying as this answer is, both of you push through because you want to make the relationship work.

    With time, you both learn how to communicate your anger more effectively. Several years pass by, one session after another. Sure, you’ve both learned new tools and insights that have helped with day-to-day interactions. But when it comes down to the things that truly matter in your relationship, nothing has really changed for the better.

    It’s in such moments that we rightfully ask, “Does couples therapy work?”

    Because you’re right to be frustrated, and you’re absolutely right to question the process.

    In this article, we’re going to talk about the effectiveness of couples therapy. I’m going to present you with a reality that’s most certainly going to shock you.

    Couples Therapy Fails 85% of its Clients

    I know that section heading is frustrating to read, but it’s true.

    I feel your frustration because I felt the same damn thing.

    Once we get off the hamster wheel and assess how much therapy has worked for us, most of us will conclude that “it has simply failed.”

    Yes, there were some insights and there was a place to release concerns, but ultimately, it never reached the core issues of our relationship problems. And if this is the destination that you arrived at, you most certainly are not alone. Not by a long shot.

    Research from Roesler (2020) shows that couples therapy fails 85% of the people that it serves.

    Yes, friends. You read that correctly.

    Conservatively speaking, traditional therapy and couples counseling will fail FOUR out of the FIVE clients that it serves in creating lasting change. 

    The question then becomes “Why?”

    Why Does Counseling and Couples Therapy Fail?

    Just like you, we wanted to know why this was happening.

    Through the TWR Institute, we gathered a research team and ended up compiling 75 peer-reviewed research articles. Within the piles of research and data, we arrived at two primary factors that answer the question, “Why does couples therapy tend to fail?”

    1. Treatment barriers on behalf of the therapist
    2. Treatment barriers on behalf of the client

    More simply put, couples therapy tends to fail because of the lack of expertise on behalf of the therapist, or problems that the clients have in implementing the solutions.

    Let’s get into each factor and break it down even more. We’ll start with data pointing out issues in terms of the therapist and the treatment they provide.

    Treatment Barriers on Behalf of the Therapist

    From all of the articles we gathered, we found five primary barriers or problems on behalf of the therapist that affects positive client outcomes.

    We’ll discuss each of these below.

    1. Couples therapists are underqualified.

    Research from Pentel and Baucom (2021) found that 95% of the therapists who graduated from an accredited graduate counseling program, did not feel properly trained to provide treatment to couples.

    Meaning, while they graduated and had the appropriate credentials and hours, these therapists still felt as though they didn’t have enough tools in the clinical environment. Responding therapists even went on to say that they would often rely on “self-guided” techniques that they believed would work. In other words, they’d often default to giving their clients advice from their own personal experiences.

    2. Couples therapists do not follow a guided framework.

    A study by Carrol et al (2021) found that each couple’s treatment would often include short-term solutions like improving communication, rather than focusing on the long-term problems. But in order for treatment to be effective, therapists must focus on the concept of Long-Term Conditions or LTCs.

    Meaning rather than focusing on providing solutions to short-term symptoms, therapists need to be focusing on long-term change which requires deep-rooted emotional work.

    Unfortunately, clients are often never getting to this place in their treatment because therapists fail to follow a consistent guided framework. Instead of following a proven and consistent framework for treatment, the therapist is going “off script” to treat problems that they feel are the most significant.

    What the therapist tends to deem “significant” are simply the symptoms or problems that are most visible. But these surface-level symptoms are rarely ever the root problem, but rather just a manifestation of that problem.

    3. The power of the therapist is too high.

    Findings from Janusz et al (2021) discuss how the therapist will often take on a judge’s role during a couple’s session. This eventually leads to the therapist taking a side rather than having the ability to mediate and solve problems.

    The term for this is known as a “split alliance”, meaning that once one partner gets the therapist to side with them, it leads to dysfunction within the session, and eventually, the couple will end up dropping out of treatment.

    4. There is no set definition of intimacy or how to approach it.

    Rober et al (2015) discussed the complexity of couples therapy and the many variables/challenges that need to be implemented for healing to take place. Their research cites the need for being able to emotionally hold space, set boundaries, and distinguish between individual and couple’s issues, All of this must happen while being able to push the session forward.

    The problem is there is no clear and set direction of how or where the direction of intimacy is.

    5. Therapists often overvalue the progress of the couple.

    The work of Owen et al (2019) found therapists often focus on reducing negative communication with couples. When they did, it would be treated as a huge success. Their research went on to show that the reduction of negative communication with couples actually leads to greater emotional disconnection because the root of their problems was not properly addressed.

    This again goes back to the problem of therapists tending to focus on the most visible symptoms, rather than on the source of those symptoms. Because the therapist sees the couple communicate more effectively and argue less, they’d think it their treatment was working. But in reality, the couple’s issues were still right there under the surface, they had simply become more adept at hiding it.

    Now let’s talk about client-side issues that prevent treatment from being effective.

    Treatment Barriers on Behalf of the Client

    1. Couple’s treatment does not address Attachment issues.

    Siegel (2020) discussed the concept of predictive processing, which basically means that your attachments or baseline behaviors as a child determines your construct of love when you become an adult. According to Mcnelis and Segrin (2019), their research found a 92% correlation between divorce and the insecure attachments that come out during a marriage.

    Translation, your past dictates a lot of what you do in your current relationships, and they need to be addressed. Most often times, the individual will blame their partner for not meeting their emotional needs, when in truth that perceived emotional need is a wound that their partner cannot solve. It is a childhood wound that they are asking their adult partner to solve for them! Let that sink in. This is why individuals will often cycle through relationships over and over because they are incorrectly labeling their childhood wound as an adult emotional relationship void.

    2. Couple’s treatment does not address trauma issues that each partner has.

    Hubbard and Harris (2020) found that many in relationships suffer from trauma or severe mental health issues, and the likelihood of having it addressed properly within a couple’s relationship is often not done. This means that in treatment, the couples’ issues and the individual partner’s issues are all treated separately, when in truth, all of it is connected to one another.

    For example, if someone is suffering from PTSD, the usual intervention is to make sure that this partner is getting the individual treatment that they need, and from a couple’s standpoint, only couple’s issues are only addressed. This sounds good in theory but the truth is, if your partner is suffering from a mental illness or trauma, that is directly going to affect the relationship and that needs to be discussed and addressed. To treat it as if the problem is separate is providing an emotional disservice to the partner who is providing support, and an overall dishonesty to what needs to be addressed relationally.

    3. Treatment does not address the crisis of the couple.

    The research of Fraenkel (2019) found that couples often come in for treatment when divorce or the relationship is at its breaking point, and the truth is, many couples’ therapists do not have the skills nor the ability to effectively handle the crisis. And instead of dealing with it head-on, the therapist will often treat the couple as if there is no crisis. This level of denial eventually causes the couple to terminate treatment and most likely end the relationship.

    I can speak on this firsthand. The majority of couples that seek our services are coming because they are on the verge of divorce, or if not married, they are deciding whether to stay or leave the relationship. It is in these moments that each partner’s hurts, frustrations and resentment all come out. As any crisis negotiator will tell you, when addressing a crisis, it is not about solving all of their problems, but it is about getting them back to their previous level of functioning before the crisis occurred. To do that, it requires being able to navigate all of the emotions that each partner is feeling, holding emotional space, and at the same time providing a structure so that a healthier level of coping can take place. Bottom line, if your therapist cannot address your crisis when it is required to do so, they are not equipped to help you.

    4. Couple’s treatment does not match the evolution of the couple.

    The work of Carr (2019) found that couples’ therapy requires the use of multiple forms of treatment and being able to use them at the appropriate times. Some of the modalities required include brief-oriented models, family therapy models, attachment work and understanding of the medical model.

    What this means is that treating a couple involves many stages. It involves each partner being accountable for what they bring into the relationship, it requires addressing the actual couple’s issues that need to be addressed and it involves being able to see their current life circumstances and being able to integrate all of it for them. This requires as a therapist, being able to navigate the many emotional stages they will go through, and help them to progress and move towards having a healthy relationship. Carr’s work points to the fact that most couples’ treatment will reach an emotional end point of progress, because in truth the therapists capacity to improve it is limited.

    5. You do not know who you are going to get!

    Banham and Schweitzer (2016) in their findings reported that not all therapists are equal. The truth is there are some really good ones and a lot of bad ones out there. Also, their work pointed to the fact that couples therapy in general has no real fluidity or standardization in terms of treatment and approaches.

    This is why it so important to be mindful and proactive when it comes to finding the right therapist. The truth is, if your marriage is on the brink, a bad therapist over a few sessions can ruin your relationship and send you to divorce immediately. Even if the relationship can be saved, the wrong therapist can do irrevocable damage. This work highlights the danger of working with a bad therapist.


    So, to sum up, if you are having or have had issues with couples’ therapy, it is our hope that this provides you with a form of validation and understanding. When we began this project, the goal of our research was never about bashing or pointing the finger at this industry, but it was truly about just wanting to find answers.

    We feel that we have done so and we are very proud of what we created with 12-Week Relationships!