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There’s no way around it. Successful, lasting marriages requires work. Finding the right partner generally marks an important first step, but that’s only the beginning of your story.

Even when you enjoy each other’s company, share plenty of interests, and have similar desires for your future, your partnership won’t always follow a gentle, wildflower-strewn trail. From time to time, you might find yourself veering into uncharted terrain, particularly when you:

You might put in plenty of effort to resolve these concerns, with less-than-rewarding results. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on each other, or your marriage.

If you and your partner have lately found it tough to pick up the same book, much less reach the same page, professional support from a trained marriage counselor can go a long way toward improving your relationship.

Read on to learn more about how marriage counseling works, plus get our top 6 picks for online marriage counseling.

It’s practically impossible for two different people to agree on everything all the time, so arguments and conflict don’t automatically make your marriage a disaster or mean you should start considering divorce. Sometimes, you and your partner can even successfully address tension on your own.

At other times, navigating challenges can prove more of a delicate and difficult process, one where unbiased support from an experienced marriage counselor can make a huge difference.

Marriage counselors won’t say, “You’re doomed,” or give direct advice. Rather, they’ll help you build a toolbox of skills to:

Marriage counselors can assist with a full assortment of relationship issues, from daily dilemmas (like communicating about finances) to more life-altering concerns (like healing after infidelity or deciding how to handle a parent’s long-term care).

Here are a few other things you might seek support for:

Marriage counseling doesn’t just help you address issues when they show up. It can help you identify and explore potential trouble areas to build a conflict resolution toolbox before you even need it. Basically, anyone in a long-term relationship may find it useful.

Online marriage counseling services remove the need to commute, freeing up extra energy to work on what really matters: your relationship.

Online formats may be particularly helpful when you and your partner:

  • have busy schedules
  • spend time in different locations due to work or other commitments
  • need a more affordable approach to counseling
  • prefer non-traditional approaches, like online courses

To create our list, we searched for services with:

  • widespread availability in the United States
  • favorable user reviews
  • solid privacy policies that ensure your information and confidentiality remain secure
  • easy-to-use features
  • therapist-backed and research-backed approaches
  • varying costs and formats to meet different therapy needs

While plenty of other online therapy platforms offer marriage counseling along with other therapy approaches, we focused on apps and online courses that offer only relationship and marriage counseling. These services have one goal: to help you and your partner improve your marriage or partnership.

Best evidence-backed approach

OurRelationship

  • Cost: $50 or $150 with the coaching option
  • Insurance: not accepted
  • Availability: nationwide
  • Therapy format: online lessons and coaching via video, phone, or chat

OurRelationship’s self-directed program offers a great way to dip your toes in the water if you feel uncertain about traditional marriage counseling. You can get started with just your computer and an internet connection, and you can fit the online lessons in around your schedules. Most people complete the program within 2 months.

If you choose to pay for coaching, you can access support from coaches for 2 months.

This program, which is adapted from integrative behavioral couples therapy (ICBT), features unique lessons for military couples, sam gender couples, and different gender couples.

You can also complete the program alone, though involving your partner will usually lead to better results.

A 2016 study of 300 heterosexual couples explored the effectiveness of OurRelationship. Researchers described the program as an affordable, accessible approach that worked to improve individual well-being and function along with relationship health.

Best for flexible therapy

ReGain

  • Cost: $9 to $120 per week, billed monthly
  • Insurance: not accepted
  • Availability: nationwide
  • Therapy format: video, phone, messaging

ReGain, a branch of BetterHelp dedicated to couples therapy, has licensed, experienced therapists available, so you’ll be able to schedule online sessions or text your therapist even if you have a pretty packed schedule.

Your therapist will work with you and your partner to find session times and formats that work best for you, whether that involves one long session each week or a few shorter sessions.

While you don’t have the option to choose your counselor, all ReGain therapists have at least 3 years of experience. They have a variety of therapy backgrounds and credentials, but they all specialize in relationship counseling.

Best for a free consultation

Growing Self

  • Cost: $65 to $160 per session, based on clinician education and experience as well as your ability to pay (sliding-scale rates in some cases)
  • Insurance: not accepted, but can help you make an out-of-network claim in some situations
  • Availability: nationwide
  • Therapy format: video

The trained, experienced marriage and family therapists at Growing Self use evidence-based marriage counseling techniques to help you improve your marriage and grow together.

The service’s action-oriented approach aims to promote fast and noticeable results in everyday interactions and communication, along with the strength of your bond.

With flexible evening and weekend online appointments, it may be easier to find a session time that works for you. Not sure about your goals for marriage counseling, or the specific issues you want to address first? Growing Self offers a free consultation to help you explore your needs and consider your counseling options.

Best for intensive counseling

Couples Therapy Inc.

  • Cost: starts at $159 per session, and prices for in-depth assessments, intensive counseling, and retreats vary
  • Insurance: not accepted
  • Availability: available in most states, plus Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Australia
  • Therapy format: video

The experienced therapists at Couples Therapy Inc. have plenty of experience in research-backed couples counseling techniques, including emotionally focused couples therapy and the Gottman method (a popular approach that helps couples deepen their connection and work through conflict). You’ll find 8 certified Gottman therapists on the team. Only about 350 people worldwide have this certification.

Trying to decide whether you want to end your marriage or give it another chance? Couples Therapy Inc. also offers discernment counseling, which can help you and your partner reach a decision on your next steps.

Couples Therapy Inc. offers counseling in traditional 50-minutes sessions, along with brief intensive counseling that takes place over a long weekend.

You can start with a thorough assessment that helps you narrow down and explore specific areas of concern. The website also offers nationwide relationship coaching at $119 per session, plus a free 19-lesson online couples therapy course.

Lasting

  • Cost: $19.99 per month (discounts available)
  • Insurance: not accepted
  • Availability: nationwide
  • Therapy format: Android and Apple app only

Just as the name implies, Lasting aims to promote long-term marital health by helping you navigate various relationship challenges, like conflict avoidance, trust issues, emotional intimacy, and communication.

Founded on attachment theory principles, Lasting also includes aspects of other therapy approaches, including emotionally focused therapy, mindfulness, and the Gottman method.

The app gives you access to over 300 guided sessions and virtual workshops with relationship therapy experts. It’s also designed to pair well with face-to-face couples counseling, so you can involve your therapist in the process.

You can even use this app as a preventative measure to boost intimacy and hone communication skills before you begin to notice recurring issues. Another benefit? It comes with a 1-week free trial.

Best for newlyweds

Happily Ever After

  • Cost: $97 flat fee
  • Insurance: not accepted
  • Availability: nationwide
  • Therapy format: course content is available on any device with an internet connection

If your marriage has fallen a little short of the fairytale ending you envisioned, Happily Ever After’s online course could help you take steps toward rekindling the magic.

Though designed as self-help premarital coaching for engaged couples, this course can still be beneficial if you’ve been married for much longer.

Founded on the idea that couples often have a hard time after marriage if they don’t talk about key issues beforehand, this self-directed online course centers on six core topics: money, self-discovery, conflict, sex and intimacy, family of origin, and communication.

You’ll start with an assessment of your relationship and then explore each of these lessons with a video, worksheets, and suggestions for putting new tools into practice.

Still have a few questions? We have answers.

Is online marriage counseling effective?

In a word: Yes.

It’s true that marriage counseling won’t save every marriage. Still, it can absolutely be beneficial, according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

What’s more, you’ll most likely notice improvement in not just your marriage, but also your emotional and physical well-being.

As for online marriage counseling? Well, it goes without saying that online approaches nearly always add a layer of convenience. Plus, research suggests that telemental healthcare, in general, can work well as an effective and accessible approach to therapy.

Any type of therapy offers a safe space to air concerns and talk through challenges, but you might still hesitate to share personal relationship issues with a therapist.

Online approaches can create an illusion of distance, increasing your sense of security and control, as several couples in one 2020 study found.

What’s the difference between marriage counseling and couples therapy?

Any type of couples counseling or relationship therapy can lead to a stronger relationship.

Marriage counseling, which works from the assumption that you share a life and responsibilities, aims to help you identify and resolve the challenges that come up in everyday life.

Usually, it’s both brief and solution-focused. Your goals will typically involve finding new ways to communicate, navigate conflict, and relate to each other.

Relationship counseling can involve similar goals, but you might also spend time exploring your compatibility or addressing more deep-seated concerns affecting your partnership, like attachment issues or childhood trauma.

Is it best to attend online marriage counseling as a couple or solo?

You’ll nearly always get more out of marriage counseling if you and your partner both show up.

If they can’t or don’t want to attend, a therapist can still help you explore conflict, communication, and other relationship issues, plus offer support with putting these strategies into practice yourself.

Your therapist may also have a few recommendations for reaching your partner and encouraging them to consider therapy.

Generally speaking, no. Most insurance plans only cover marriage counseling in certain circumstances, like when one partner has a mental health diagnosis that creates challenges within your marriage.

Some online marriage counseling programs can offer guidance on using out-of-network benefits, but not every program does.

That said, many online marriage counseling services strive to make their programs affordable, recognizing that not every couple has extra funds to cover therapy. You can also often find programs that offer discounts or sliding scale fees.

Any bone of contention in your marriage is worth digging out, for your well-being and a stronger partnership. Just know you don’t have to do the digging alone.

Marriage counselors can offer guidance and support, online or in person. Online marriage counseling makes it even easier to access affordable help on your schedule from a convenient location, like your living room.

Most experts recommend seeking support early, when you first start to notice difficulties. So why not reach out today and find out how online marriage counseling can improve your relationship?

Crystal Raypole writes for Healthline and Psych Central. Her fields of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health, along with books, books, and more books. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and a lovably recalcitrant cat.