Are you struggling in your marriage? Have you talked and talked but seem to get nowhere? Have you tried marriage counseling and it didn’t work? Or are you silently suffering, feeling so disappointed that this place of “roommate status” is where you find yourselves after so many years? Do you hesitate to reach out for help because you’re too embarrassed to make that initial phone call? Perhaps you tell yourself, “The cost of marriage counseling is too expensive and our insurance doesn’t cover it anyway.” I’d like to encourage you, empower you, and maybe even shift your thinking about the cost of couples counseling.
Marriage Counseling is an Investment
First, I want to validate that marriage and couples counseling is an investment. In the here and now, it feels expensive and is a sacrifice of time and money for most of us. I can fully relate as I have experienced seeking out marriage counseling when my husband and I had very little time or money. Oftentimes we didn’t find the help we so desperately needed but kept trying because we knew we needed help and our marriage was worth saving. Now looking back, I don’t regret any of our efforts nor the expense as we have come a long way together.
The Big Day
For those of you who are on the fence about the cost of couples counseling, I have a few thoughts. Do you recall how much you spent on your wedding? According to theknot.com the average price tag of a wedding and reception in the US is $30,000 (2022 data). If you were willing to invest $30 grand to begin your life together, could you invest a fraction of that to save your marriage today? By getting a third party involved, counseling will enable you to sort through what’s happening in the marriage and discover what is pulling you apart.
The Cost of the ‘D’ Word
We know weddings can be expensive, but what about the cost of divorce? A quick google search reveals a Dissolution will run you around $3k. The average cost of a divorce? While there are as many variables, estimates on average divorces in the US range from $15,000 to $30,000 with those numbers rising astronomically if you own a business, depending upon the number of years married, and other key factors (see this article How Much Will My Divorce Cost?).
Lawyers vs. Counselors
Let’s compare the hourly rate of a marriage counselor to the average rate of a divorce attorney in Ohio. According to Herlawyer.com, attorneys bill, on average, between $210-$300 an hour, with rates rising according to experience. Now, double that hourly rate because you will both need a lawyer. Keep in mind, a lawyer’s job is to dissolve the relationship where you’ve invested thousands of dollars, experiences, hours, memories, hopes and dreams. Now, let’s take a look at marriage counselors. On average, the going rate for a marriage counselor is between $100- $250 an hour, with the intention, training, and hope to help you restore and salvage all those memories, hopes and dreams. Let’s say you follow our recommendation and attend counseling weekly for three months. Let’s assume the counselor charges $150 per session and you attend 12 weeks for the total investment of $1800. That’s a bargain compared to the starting rate for a divorce at $15,000! Through counseling, you may discover there really is hope and make significant changes to heal and restore a relationship you found valuable enough to spend thousands of dollars on years earlier. On the other hand, you may still reach the point to dissolve the marriage. After taking the time to talk through things with a counselor and arriving at the decision to divorce, you will have a peace of mind that you did the best you could with some added validation of a third party perspective.
Reduce Spending to Afford the Investment
If you’re weighing the cost of counseling, have you looked at your spending lately? Have you examined your priorities to assess whether or not you can afford counseling? Here are some areas to consider curbing your spending. Women, how much are you willing to spend at the salon? Most women will admit to spending $200 at the salon every 6 to 8 weeks. What about mani-pedis, massages or facials- all temporary. Men, how much do you rack up in a day of golfing with the guys- a $100? How often do you golf? An evening out can easily cost a couple hundred dollars if you’re paying a babysitter or heading to a concert. We live in a day and age where what other countries consider luxury, we consider necessity. How important are these ‘necessities’ when your marriage is falling apart? Are you keeping up with the Jones’ only to find yourself exhausted and miserable with your marriage paying the price? Taking inventory of your spending habits is a good place to start to evaluate your priorities and to realize you can afford couples counseling.
The Impact of Divorce
Enough about numbers and dollars. Let’s talk about the emotional impact on each of you, your children, and your extended family and friends. Does it surprise you to hear that approximately half of couples regret divorcing? After time passes, many couples realize they probably could have worked things out. What about the cost to the children involved? About 68% of divorced individuals with children reported they wished they had tried harder. Yes, children are resilient. And yet, children of divorce experience much higher rates of anxiety, depression, drug abuse and even higher rates of suicide. They struggle with keeping up their grades and are more likely to be bullied at school. How do we quantify the impact of divorce on a child?
A Lifelong Investment
The point is, when you invest in a few months of marriage counseling you will reap long term joy, peace, and companionship. Restoring your marriage has a positive ripple effect on all those who are connected to you. Every couple will face challenging times and seasons of stress. Working through hardship is part of what makes good relationships better. When you engage in the counseling process wholeheartedly, with an open mind and are willing to accept responsibility for your part, you’re engaging in something that will last a lot longer than any momentary pleasure. Food, fingernails, sports, style and entertainment will come and go. Committed relationships not only benefit you and your spouse or partner today, they will benefit you and the generations to follow with a security, satisfaction, and stability that no dollar amount can provide.