Many studies have proven the effectiveness of counseling in helping people overcome the most common problems of daily living. Traditionally, however, this has not been the case with marriage counseling. Experts have speculated that this lack of positive results could be the result of many factors, such as poor training and lack of effective models and methods utilized by therapists, or the complexity of the problems typically presented by the average couple that seeks marriage counseling (the average couple waits six years after they start to have problems in their relationship before they seek counseling).
New research, however, shows that therapy can be very effective in solving marital problems when it helps couples become more aware of the problematic cycles of interaction that characterize their conflict. These problem “dynamics” in the troubled relationship often take on some variation of this common sequence of relationship events:
This pattern is referred to as a “dysfunctional dynamic” that is characterized by a stereotyped, repetitive pattern of interaction that becomes self-perpetuating and continuously escalating and does great damage to the relationship. Couples experiencing this sort of dynamic in their relationship often report feeling that they are having the same arguments over and over again.