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Marriage Counseling: What Is the Cost and Return on Investment?

Marriage counseling requires a significant amount of investment, both in time and money, in order to improve a relationship or save a marriage. It is not uncommon for professional marriage counseling sessions to cost more than $100. Weeks or months of sessions may be necessary. Thus, marriage counseling may cost more than $1000, and sometimes several thousand dollars.

The out-of-pocket cost of marriage counseling can be greatly reduced when the marital strain is affecting one or both of the partners and increasing symptoms like anxiety or depression. If the couple chooses a licensed mental health provider they may be able to use their health insurance benefits for covered family therapy sessions in order to alleviate their symptoms. In such cases insurance may cover a large portion of the costs. However, no insurance company will cover therapy just to improve a marriage. Some private information, at least a diagnosis of a mental disorder, will have to be documented and released to the insurance company.

Many times the marriage may not lack love or commitment but the partners may need relationship skills such as assertiveness, emotional regulation, and communication skills. A good marriage counselor will help the couple focus on the process of improving the relationship, increasing intimacy, and resolving conflict, as well as teaching skills. Many couples are not able to do this without a neutral person guiding them. It also takes an investment of time and effort to change habits.

So what is the return of investment on a thousand dollars or several thousand dollars spent on marital counseling?

The success of marriage counseling is not guaranteed. Therefore it is an investment that has a certain amount of risk.
It is possible that both partners will leave the counseling sessions feeling it was a complete loss of time and money. However, that risk may be smaller than you would think. A recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Volume 22, Number 1) reported surprisingly high rates of satisfaction in a survey of clients from 526 marriage and family counselors in 15 different states. More than 90% of the respondents rated the services as good or excellent, said they got the help they desired, said they were satisfied with the amount of help they received, said they were helped in dealing more effectively with problems, and said they were generally satisfied with the help they received.

The potential monetary return on investment of successful marriage counseling could be enormous. Think about these few obvious potential sources of monetary return:
·The cost savings of legal fees for divorce and child custody proceedings.
·The cost savings of maintaining one household instead of two.
·The cost savings of more secure children and avoiding the tendency of parents to try to buy children things out of guilt.
·The cost savings of transportation due to shared parenting in two households.
·The cost savings from not losing work time for divorce/custody activities.
·The cost savings from avoiding a second (or third) wedding. Not to mention dating and honeymoon expenses.
·The health care cost savings. Research has shown that strong marriages are a big factor in health and longevity.

But the cost savings are minor compared to the potential benefits compared to other things our money could be spent on. What is the potential return of investment on a good marriage?

Even if marriage counseling may cost more than a thousand dollars, how many things have more potential for increasing our quality of life and happiness than a good, secure intimate relationship? Adults who would not question spending thousands of dollars for braces or for a good education should seriously think about what a good marriage would mean to themselves and their children in terms of health, happiness, and success in the future.

Susan Huebert, L.S.C.S.W., has practiced counseling in Wichita KS for over 15 years. Visit her Marriage Counseling Wichita site to learn more about marriage counseling.