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Hoping to build a stronger, more satisfying partnership? Online marriage counseling can help.
- Best marriage counseling overall: ReGain
- Best for soon-to-be-married couples: Growing Self
- Best for your budget: Rethink My Therapy
- Best for round-the-clock support: Talkspace
- Best if you’re unsure about therapy: OurRelationship
If you’re considering marriage counseling, you might feel hesitant, unsure what to expect, or a little self-conscious about the issues leading you to explore therapy.
Seeking professional support doesn’t mean you’ve failed at your marriage, though. It means you care enough about your partner to make the effort a thriving marriage requires. Think of counseling as a tool that helps you find and shore up any cracks in your partnership before they spread.
Online counseling can help you take the first steps toward strengthening your marriage — on your schedule, from the comfort and security of your own home.
Conflict in a relationship is both normal and healthy. You and your partner won’t agree on everything, no matter how much you love each other or how long your relationship has lasted. Yet, while conflict itself is perfectly natural, you may struggle to address it in productive and healthy ways.
If you end up avoiding disagreements entirely because you fear making the situation worse, tension and stress in your marriage will likely only increase. But you can learn to resolve conflict respectfully and maintain your connection with your partner.
Support from a trained counselor can make this process easier. Internet-based approaches work in much the same way as in-person counseling, but they increase access for couples facing barriers like scheduling limitations, work responsibilities, or health concerns.
Wondering about the difference between marriage counseling and couples or relationship therapy?
While they’re pretty similar, marriage counseling tends to prioritize problems and areas of conflict affecting daily married life, from division of household responsibilities to affair recovery to intimacy issues.
For many couples, getting married means spending more time together than ever before. This increased physical closeness can certainly lead to increased emotional closeness, but it can also illuminate key areas of difference that may lead to conflict.
Marriage counseling helps you work to explore and address situations creating problems in your relationship, whether they’re relatively minor or somewhat more significant. You don’t need to be married, either. Anyone in a long-term partnership can benefit.
Counseling can help in the following situations:
- You consistently struggle with clear, effective communication.
- You have trouble relating but still love each other and want to stay married.
- One or both of you has had an affair.
- You don’t know how to discuss outside stressors affecting your relationship.
- You disagree on parenting approaches.
- You’re engaged and want to address goals and put together a toolbox of conflict resolution skills for concerns you may face down the line.
- A lack of physical or emotional intimacy has created distance.
- You entered the marriage with different sets of expectations and want to establish common ground.
While relationship therapy can help you explore the ways previous relationship and family patterns affect your relationship, marriage counseling tends to focus mostly on current issues. This can make it an effective tool when you know you don’t want to end your partnership.
That said, for marriage counseling to work, both partners need to commit. If one of you lacks the motivation or has already checked out mentally, you probably won’t see much improvement. Marriage counseling also may not succeed when one partner:
- wants to keep secrets or continue an affair
- struggles with honest communication
- wants out of the relationship
Marriage counseling isn’t recommended when your relationship involves abuse. Abuse is a matter of power and control, not a relationship issue. If you’re experiencing abuse, individual therapy can offer space to get guidance on potential next steps and create a safety plan.
Online counseling can help you access support while COVID-19 distancing guidelines remain in place, but it also has benefits when work commitments require you to spend regular time apart. Many online platforms offer support to partners in two different locations.
To create our list of the best online marriage counseling services, we looked for services with:
- established websites
- availability across the United States, rather than only one or two states
- counselors qualified to offer support with relationship issues
- positive user reviews
You’ll notice most services don’t accept insurance, but that’s fairly standard for marriage counseling. Insurance typically won’t cover relationship counseling unless it’s a recommended treatment for a mental health concern.
Best marriage counseling overall
- Cost: from $90 to $120 weekly
- Therapy format: message, phone, video (partners must be in the same location)
- Accepts insurance? No
- Nationwide? Yes
ReGain, a BetterHelp sister site, provides only relationship counseling. Its staff includes marriage and family therapists as well as psychologists, social workers, and counselors. All specialize in relationship counseling and have experience working with romantic partners in need of support.
Therapist matching is automated, but you can switch counselors if they aren’t a good fit.
Once you match, you can begin sending messages and scheduling live sessions, alone or with your partner. Most of your communication will take place during your joint “session,” though you can book individual live sessions if needed.
Reviewers generally praise ReGain. Many people note the professionalism, kindness, and experience of their counselors and say the service truly made a difference in their relationship.
Best for soon-to-be-married couples
- Cost: varies; some therapists offer income-based sliding-scale rates beginning at $55 a session
- Therapy format: video
- Accepts insurance? No, but out-of-network claims may be possible.
- Nationwide? Yes
You’ve heard of marriage counseling, but how about premarital counseling? This specialized, short-term approach focuses on conflict resolution skills, family planning goals, family of origin traditions, intimacy, and more.
Research suggests it can help you have a more successful relationship, and Growing Self agrees. The service’s trained and experienced therapists offer premarital counseling along with other types of relationship and marriage counseling and coaching.
These services are available nationwide, and certified therapists also offer online support in 13 states. Fees depend on provider experience.
Growing Self also offers free consultations and solution sessions, one-time coaching experiences that help you craft a plan of action for your unique relationship.
Best for your budget
Rethink My Therapy
- Cost: $129 monthly
- Therapy format: video, phone
- Accepts insurance? No
- Nationwide? Yes
Along with therapy for various types of life challenges and mental health concerns, Rethink My Therapy counselors also offer relationship and marriage support.
You can usually make your first appointment within a week, so you can start working on your relationship right away.
Since you can choose your own therapist (and switch if necessary), you’ll have an easier time finding a good match right from the start. You can also book multiple sessions a month, depending on your therapist’s availability.
Best for round-the-clock support
- Cost: starts at $99 weekly
- Therapy format: video, messaging
- Accepts insurance? Yes
- Nationwide? Yes
Some couples find it most helpful to talk through marital problems as they come up. If that’s the case for you, Talkspace relationship therapy may be a great fit. This online therapy platform offers you and your partner regular access to support instead of once-weekly sessions.
Once you’re matched with a therapist, you can send messages 24/7. Your therapist will typically respond within a day to help you address concerns. You can also add video sessions for live support.
Many users recommend Talkspace relationship therapy, praising its convenience and experienced, helpful providers.
Best if you’re unsure about therapy
- Cost: $50 or $150 with coaching
- Therapy format: online lessons, phone, video, and chat coaching
- Accepts insurance? No
- Nationwide? Yes
Know you’d like to make some changes in your marriage? Feel a little less certain about the time and financial commitment therapy requires? OurRelationship’s
The program typically takes no longer than 2 months, and the coaching option covers support for 2 months. You can choose between specialized programs for relationships in which partners have the same gender or different genders.
The service recommends working with your partner but also offers an individual program if your partner isn’t fully on board. You can even start with a free sample lesson to make sure the self-help format is a good fit.
Is online marriage counseling effective?
According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, relationship counseling can have many benefits for not only your marriage but also your overall well-being.
In fact, according to a 2020 study in 15 couples receiving online counseling, a majority found it easy to connect with their counselor and had an overall positive and beneficial experience. Some even said the distance offered by the online format helped them feel more in control.
To maximize your success with online therapy, look for a therapist who:
- feels like a good fit for you and your partner
- has training in a recognized relationship counseling approach, such as emotionally focused couples therapy or the
Should I attend online marriage counseling with my partner or solo?
You’re all set to show up and do the work, but your partner seems less interested. What next?
An open conversation offers the opportunity to explain why you think therapy might be a good option and get more insight on their reservations.
Marriage counseling generally works best when you both participate. That said, you can still do it alone. An experienced counselor can offer guidance on relationship skills and strategies for communicating with your partner more effectively.
What are alternatives to online marriage counseling?
The services we’ve featured above may not work for everyone, but you still have options for support.
Other helpful options for improving communication and strengthening your relationship include:
- couples workshops or retreats
- self-help books
- relationship coaching
- regular check-ins to talk about your relationship and discuss concerns
In-person therapy can also help, if you struggle to find an online counselor with the experience and skills you’re looking for. Many therapists who primarily offer office sessions now offer teletherapy options in light of COVID-19.
In need of an LGBTQIA+-affirming or culturally sensitive counselor? Consider searching for a therapist who offers online sessions through:
- African American Therapists Directory
- Therapy for Latinx
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Inclusive Therapists
Looking for a counselor who specializes in open or non-monogamous marriages? Try searching online therapist directories or the Polyamory-Friendly Professionals Directory for therapists who offer teletherapy options.
Online marriage counseling can help improve your relationship, whether you’ve been married 2 weeks or 10 years. It doesn’t need to be a last resort, either. It can help you and your partner find solutions early on.
Counseling won’t help you resolve every incompatibility, like different desires for children or the ideal location to live. Still, it can bring these concerns into the open so you can determine the best path forward.