ARE YOU WONDERING IF MARRIAGE COUNSELING CAN WORK FOR YOU?
“All we do is fight!” “I have to yell to be heard!” “Why do I have to do everything? "
“No matter what I do, I can’t please her. It’s never enough. She’s never satisfied!”
“He won’t talk to me. I never know how he feels about anything!”
“Everything changed after the children were born.”
“We’ve grown apart. With the kids and our jobs, there’s no time for us anymore.”
“We live like roommates.” “We sleep in separate rooms.”
“There’s no passion or romance any more. We rarely, if ever, have sex.”
“Why would I want to have sex when I don’t feel any emotional connection?”
"I’m sick and tired of all the lies.” “My in-laws are making me crazy!”
These are a few of the comments I most frequently hear when couples first arrive in my office to explore whether couples or marriage counseling might be right for them. They are verbal expressions of underlying issues, including:
Unresolved resentment and bitterness over past ruptures in the relationship
Inability to communicate without defensiveness.
Ineffective management of conflict that escalates out of control
Loss of romance, passion, fun, and sexual intimacy
Adjustment to parenthood
Blending of families
Conflict over maintaining boundaries with in-laws
Loss of emotional intimacy and closeness
Infidelity and betrayal
Stress on a relationship due to a partner’s substance abuse or depression/anxiety/OCD, or other psychological problems
ALL COUPLES GO THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES
If you confide in someone that you’re having problems in your marriage or relationship, you’ll likely hear something along the lines of, “Marriage is hard. You have to really work at it.” Not very heartening to hear, is it? It’s true that life itself holds challenges and relationships aren’t always smooth sailing. Your primary relationship, however, should be a safe haven from life’s storms, at least most of the time. If yours is not, it likely means that you’re stuck in unhealthy patterns and don’t have the skills to navigate through them. The good news is that you don’t have to stay stuck. With the help of an experienced and well-trained couples counselor, you can develop new skills that will put you back on track to being a loving, supportive, connected couple.
DOES MARRIAGE COUNSELING REALLY HELP? YES, IT DOES!
Most couples who come in for their initial session are feeling a little anxious about how the process is going to work and whether it can really help with their particular problems. I think it helps to know a little about what to expect.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach in marriage counseling, just as each relationship has its unique complexities, but there are some approaches that are better than others. The most helpful approaches are based on valid research and contain elements that have been proven to be effective. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is recognized as one of the leaders in the field of marriage and couples counseling. It provides a structure that I have found to be most useful in achieving progress with couples.
One important element is a strong assessment process. During your first session, we will explore the specific events or problems that have led you to seek help. We’ll also talk about your relationship history, your patterns of communication, and what you hope to gain from your marriage counseling. I will answer any questions you may have at that time. We will then schedule individual appointments for each of you and provide a questionnaire for each of you to complete before your individual session. Individual sessions will provide an opportunity for me to get to know each of you better and to hear your perspective on how your relationship problems developed.
The three of us will then meet again for the next session. I will share with you my perception of your strengths and weaknesses and provide education about improving aspects of your relationship that are problematic. Together, we will then develop a treatment plan that prioritizes the issues that are most distressing to you.
The first and foremost goal will be learning how to communicate with each other in a way that promotes empathic understanding of each partner’s perspective. This will enable you to work on problems in a manner that creates cooperation rather than defensiveness and stonewalling.
If you wish to know more about Gottman Method Couples Therapy, click here. I am also trained in Sue Johnson’s Emotionally-Focused Therapy for Couples, which is another research-based method used by many couples counselors. I have benefitted from training in both Gottman and EFT approaches.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What if my partner refuses to come to marriage counseling with me?
Then come in on your own. Yes, it takes two to tango, but you can start learning the steps on your own by recognizing how you are contributing to problems and changing how you relate to your partner. When your partner starts to see your commitment to change and benefits from those changes, he or she will be more likely to join you. Even if they don’t, you will be building self-respect and confidence in your own ability to engage in healthy relationships.
What if too much damage has been done or we’re just too far gone?
If you’re feeling this way, I encourage you not to give up hope until you’ve given couples counseling a try. I have seen hostile, angry couples filled with resentment and bitterness do the work of building a new relationship. Others have been able to re-ignite the spark they thought was completely dead. There are also cases when the right course is to end the relationship. Our goal at that point is to find an amicable way to say goodbye to each other, a worthy goal in itself, especially if you have children to consider.
How long will marriage counseling take and how much will it cost?
The number of sessions will depend on your particular situation. Some couples come in early and get back on track with only a few sessions. Others, however, wait until it’s a last-ditch effort and there is more work to be done. We will review and assess progress as we go. How long it takes is also influenced by the willingness of each party to accept their share of responsibility and take the necessary steps toward change.
Cost of sessions is $140 for the first session and $125 for subsequent sessions. Each session lasts approximately 55-60 minutes. Longer sessions can also be scheduled at the request of the couple if they feel they are in a crisis.
DON’T SIT AND WATCH YOUR RELATIONSHIP DETERIORATE
I can offer you a safe, non-judgmental space to explore your relationship problems with professional guidance. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit my contact page here. If you still have questions or reservations, I’m happy to schedule a free 15-minute phone consult or, if you prefer, you may send your questions to me via e-mail.