Will Marital Counseling Break Up My Marriage?

angry couple

Can My Marriage Be Saved?

Can My Marriage Be Saved? The Benefits of Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling is like assembling an airplane in flight. It is highly stressful, highly volatile and potentially explosive. Not all psychologists are trained to work with couples and if not, they can do more harm than good. Unlike traditional therapy for individuals, the most effective couple’s therapy does not plumb the unconscious or delve into the past or seek to identify the psychopathologies causing people to behave in destructive ways. Couples therapy works best when it focuses on the perpetuating patterns that are driving couples apart and what positive steps each person can take to change them.

I saw a couple where the husband was a quiet, stoic guy and the wife was more verbal and emotional and wanting him to open up and communicate more. It was important to point out that his seeming indifference was driving her panic and her panic was driving his indifference. They both needed to not assign blame, e.g., “Everything would be better if he would change”, or “Everything would be better if she would just change”, but to understand that both people needed to make changes.

It is important not side with one partner or even give the perception of siding with one partner, as that hurts the cause. It is important to build a bridge between two people. People should not stay miserable, but there is a lot of psychological research showing that the pursuit of happiness is self-defeating. Happiness is a byproduct of a life well-lived, of good relationships, of making a difference in the world.

I believe that if both people want to work on the marriage and will hang in there and do the homework that I give them, the marriage and their relationship will succeed. I am the last person to give up on a marriage, not the first person to give up.

3 Things to Consider When in Marriage Counseling:

  1. We say that you should be able to tell early on if the therapy is helpful. Within the first couple of sessions, each partner should feel that the psychologist understands his or her point of view and is actively structuring the sessions. The relationship should be improving in five to eight sessions.
  1. About 30% of couples who seek counseling are not on the same page about seeking counseling or believe their marriage can be saved, e.g., one person is more committed to saving the marriage than the other. When marriage counseling is done right, however, about 70% of couples show positive change.
  1. Going alone to individual counseling for marital problems increases the chance of divorce, research shows. That’s because the client is telling only one side of the story to an empathetic therapist, so it becomes a gripe session about how unhappy the person is in the relationship and the absent partner starts to look like even more of a monster, exacerbating the couple’s polarization. That is not to say it is never appropriate to see an individual therapist for relationship problems. For example, if one partner’s depression or commitment issues caused the discord, that person might benefit from individual counseling to work on those personal issues (though if the marital problems came before the depression, couples therapy is the way to go). It can be helpful to bring in the partner for a session or two.

Building Intimacy is Vital in Marriage

Why Building Intimacy in Marriage is Vital

The hardest quality to build into a marriage is intimacy, both sexual and psychological. Our culture over the last 25 years has emphasized the sexual at the expense of the psychological.

Intimacy is a fundamental need for human beings.  It means being able to share our innermost self with someone else and having that sharing reciprocated.  In watching what damages marriage, I am most impressed that withholding who we are and how we react has become the kiss of death.

We are very fragile to injury in relationships in which we feel the most vulnerable.  Many people try to control the level of intimacy because of fear of being hurt.  For most of us, the single, deepest experience of being known in all our strengths and flaws is in the marital relationship.

How to develop and strengthen marital intimacy deserves the attention of both parties.  Many people feel they are not finding the fulfillment they had hoped for in their marriage.  They have a sense of aloneness, emptiness or just something missing.  You may also be married to someone who does not need the same degree of intimacy that you do.  What can be done about this?

Some questions to ask are:  “How well do we know ourselves?” and “How have we felt our spouse has responded to us?”  In my experience as a psychologist, the reluctance to report our reactions to each other hinders marital growth.  Now some things will always remain trivial and do not deserve your verbal reactions, e.g., how your spouse manages a household chore is probably not worth talking about unless it consistently irritates you.

When expectations are unconscious, uncommunicated, unrealistic, or unreasonable, you can feel betrayed when you have not been.  You need to examine the validity of your own expectations about a relationship.  You may have wanted or expected something from another person, but he or she never agreed to give it.  Believing that if your spouse really loved you, he/she should be able to read your mind or that partners in “good” relationships rarely disagree are myths.

What you do with irritation is crucial.  Many times the temptation arises to blow such reactions off, but the resentment barometer rises.  The debris of irritation can collect into a sturdy pile.  Given sufficient time, enough material can get between partners that the distance increases and the silence becomes very telling.

Read more:


“I Love Them, I Am Just Not in Love with Them Anymore.”

“I Love Them, I Am Just Not in Love with Them Anymore.”: The Difference Between LOVE and IN LOVE

I hear those words with some regularity when I work with couples on their marriage issues.  There is a sadness when the words are spoken and often a resignation suggested, such as, “It’s just too damn bad we can’t do anything about it.”

I do not believe in that kind of doom.  If we were talking weight loss, stopping smoking, getting more exercise, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, living a more balanced life, or saving for retirement or children’s education, we would be relentless in trying possibilities over a long period of time.

I tell people to work with me on their marriage for four months and then assess whether changes have occurred in the ways they desire.  Working on what we want with our partner is not mysterious.  We need to be direct and specific in expressing our needs and wants.  When you are in marriage counseling with us, we will measure as well the progress in getting those needs and wants met.

The most important aspect of changing a marriage patterns is saying out loud to our spouse, “Yes, I like it when you do that….”  Even the casinos know that sooner or later, everyone needs a payoff.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their relationship, please give us a call.  We can help you be in love again.


Helping Blended Marriages Succeed

How to Help Blended Marriages Succeed with Family Counseling

One of the benefits of a mobile and Internet savvy society is that information is easily shared. Today, we are learning and sharing new data and new techniques that ultimately help families survive as a single healthy and happy unit. However, we still see a large number of relationships fail.  As a consequence, blended marriages have become part of the norm. They bring with them a mountain of problems and can be the hardest to maintain, especially without outside assistance.

While two adults may come together and share a common bond, that doesn’t mean their children will as well. Some blended marriages work brilliantly and these are serving as great guides when it comes to teaching others about how to embark on a similar path. This is where the sharing of techniques and ideas has been such a bonus. We now know that when two parents are considering a blended arrangement, their first steps should be to seek counseling.

Unfortunately, most people rush in where others would fear to tread. In a blended relationship, the consequences can be pretty harsh where even the smallest things get on people’s nerves. By participating in several family-based counseling sessions before coming together as a single family unit, expectations and fears can be discussed. One of the most important outcomes from these sessions. is that each member of the new family now has a firm idea of the fears and expectations of everyone else. They can also learn better communication tactics and techniques for dealing with problems when they arise.

Family counseling can be undertaken after an event, but keep in mind, this is like trying to treat a problem. By undertaking counseling prior to committing to a full time relationship, you are essentially vaccinating the family against future problems. There are no guarantees and members of blended families do have to work harder to make them succeed. Early counseling sessions are one valuable tool that should not be dismissed too lightly.


Infidelity Doesn’t Have to Destroy a Relationship

Infidelity Doesn’t Have to Destroy a Relationship

Infidelity in a relationship is often one of the hardest problems to overcome, yet rarely is it a serious sign that a relationship is over. There are couples that are completely devoted to one another yet involved with others outside the relationship. Of course, let’s not kid one another, infidelity can also mean the relationship is well beyond its save-by-date.

The difference between the two lies behind the reasons for infidelity. Have you ever wondered why people engage in extra-marital relationships? They will often tell you its more exciting, more fun and totally different to what they experience at home. But then, it should be. The whole experience is heightened by several factors, one of which is the fear of discovery and the second being the tasting of the forbidden fruit. If you could translate that to the home, things would be different there as well.

A relationship doesn’t have to end because one person in the relationship has been unfaithful. What is needed is a careful appraisal of where the relationship is and why that person found the need to venture outside the relationship. Once those issues have been dealt with, you will then need to deal with issues of trust.

When it comes to infidelity, what destroys the relationship is loss of trust. If you can rebuild that trust then the relationship can continue to grow, often much stronger than before. If you cannot rebuild the trust then that relationship could be doomed to failure. It will certainly see its fair share of arguments, accusations, and counter accusations.

If infidelity has affected your relationship, consider your options. Can you forgive, forget, and move on, or do you need help? If you need help, call us.  We can assist you in rebuilding the trust.


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