Archive for the ‘Marriage Counseling’ Category

When Is It Too Late For Marriage Counseling?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

As relationship therapists, we don’t play god and we don’t tell people it’s too late to save their marriage. However, here are some factors at play to consider when you are thinking about marriage counseling.

Falling “out of love” is not necessarily the reason to end a marriage. Love is not just a feeling, it is sometimes a choice. Oftentimes when a couple reconnects, love comes back. However, there has to be a desire and willingness to work on connection. If one or both partners are not willing to consider and try to connect, to try to be vulnerable and open to their partner, marriage counseling will not be of help.

Sometimes, a couple comes in and the resentment and anger in the room is so palpable, you can cut it with a knife. They proceed to scream and accuse each other, often times talking at the same time. Many times, this happens because the anger and resentment have gone on for so long that it is hard to move past it.

It is very deep and each feels justified in feeling the way they do. It would have been much better had they come in sooner.

Related to that, some partners in a marriage feel contempt for one another. It is a very toxic feeling and there is usually a sense of justification for feeling this way. It is hard to move from contempt. Usually with contempt comes defensiveness and criticism of the other. With some couples there is such a flood of these feelings that there is nowhere for a therapist to even intervene, what goes on at home, takes place in our office. This is a very tough situation to shift.

I sometimes see couples where one partner recoils if the other even attempts any kind of affection. This sense of almost disgust at the idea of being touched by your spouse is a very discouraging sign for a couples therapist.

It is important to pick up on signs of trouble in a marriage before they become so entrenched that the shift becomes practically impossible.

How To Recognize And Handle Manipulation In Marriage

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

I come across many situations in marriage counseling sessions where there are manipulative behavior from one or both partners. This behavior or dynamic is very harmful to partners as it makes one of them angry.

What is manipulative behavior in the context of relationships?

In my mind, manipulative behavior is getting someone to do something for you without being direct about what you want or need. It makes the recipient of this tactic angry because he or she ends up doing something they don’t want to do.

Examples of manipulative behavior seen in relationships and marriages:

In romantic relationships or a marriage, when one of the partners “forgets” to do a task or a chore, it results in the other one having to do it and it leads to resentment. It is better to discuss directly and honestly what you want and do not want to do and come up with a solution that works for both people.

Another form of manipulation is over promising to your partner to do things you do not intend to do. It leads to disappointment and anger.

Another way couples use manipulation is withholding what the other wants, like sex, affection, favors, in order to get something first. Again, this is poisonous to a relationship.

Ask directly for what you want and need. Discuss it with your spouse or partner and avoid the problems that come from indirect communication. You may seek the help of a marriage counselor to help open the flow of communication between you and your spouse. You will learn how to share and frame your feelings which will help rekindle the romance in your relationship.

5 Things You Can Not Expect From Marriage Counseling

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Sometimes couples come to marriage counseling expecting miracles. I, along with many couples’ therapists try hard to help our couples who come to us in pain. However, I want to warn you about what NOT to expect from marriage counseling.

  1. Couples therapists are not judges and we cannot tell you who is guilty or innocent. Many couples treat my office as if it is a courtroom. It is not. Marriage counseling is not about establishing facts or even the truth, as no one knows what that is. It is about understanding your partner’s reality and their experience about what is happening for them and to learn to care about that.
  2. Marriage counselors do not tell their clients whether to stay together or to break up. We are not gods. The decision is up to our clients and what they want and feel. The exception to this is if the marriage or relationship is actually dangerous to one’s life.
  3. Our clients often expect us to change the other person. It is not a therapist’s job to change either partner. Often in couples therapy people explore their values, feelings and “deal breakers”. We attempt to foster communication around these issues for people to come to terms with their partner’s needs and feelings. We do encourage both partners to be open to rethinking and taking in feelings of their partner. Sometimes one partner is the source of most of the conflict. Still, ultimately both people have to adjust and this is a couples’ issue. We try and identify what both people contribute to the conflict in a relationship.
  4. It is important to understand that even though couples therapists do their best to help people stay together, sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes marriages or relationships end in a therapy session. This is not unusual as therapy session becomes a “safe space” and difficult feelings become more manageable to communicate. Some patients are disappointed by this, but it is important to understand that this happens. Couples therapists do not dictate what happens in the relationship, we only are there to “hold” our couples and help them move through their process.
  5. Often times, clients come to marriage counseling and want us to tell them if they are going to “make it” or if what is going on with them is “normal”. Again, as a couples’ therapist, I do not make predictions about the future of a relationship. I can only help work with what is happening now. I also do not know how to answer what is normal or not. What is normal for one couple may be unacceptable for the other. I do not set that standard, but help partners understand what theirs is.

5 Damaging Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

There are some things that are so damaging to your marriage that your spouse may not be able to come back from them. These types of statements can permanently hurt your relationship or at the very least create serious resentments that are difficult to let go of.

  1. Telling your spouse that you can’t stand, hate or don’t like their family or family members. This is extremely hurtful because you cannot change your family and we all identify with our parents and siblings and usually love them. This is often seen as an attack on self and will make your partner feel and act defensively. Saying “I hate your mother” is like saying I hate you or a part of you, because like it or not, we all are a product of our parents. If one really feels that they cannot stand their partners’ parents, please re-think marrying that person. This will be an issue that will be a problem between you always and will invariably damage your marriage.
  1. Telling your spouse that they are a bad parent. We all may have suggestions or requests about each other’s parenting skills or styles. Please be mindful that parenting is a very sensitive issue especially for new parents. It is a major area of disagreements between spouses and needs to handle with kid gloves. This is an area where criticism is very painful and can lead to major resentments, alienation and ultimately a break.
  1. Being critical when one of the partners is having a career or financial crisis. In a marriage, each spouse’s career and money issues affect both parties. It is easy to be critical and angry and say stuff like “you are a failure”, “I am sick of you not making money and feeling lost with your career.” While feelings like this can at times be understandable, saying it is another issue, unless you are ready to call it quits. Calling your partner a failure makes him or her feels demeaned, looked down upon and basically disrespected and unloved.
  1. Another killer statement is “I am not attracted to you anymore”. Attraction in a long term relationship can come and go. Before making a statement like this, be ready for the marriage to be over. It is hard to recover from this and feel sexy and desired after statements like this. Instead, try to think of some constructive suggestions depending on what it is that’s turning you off. Most of the attraction issues have to do with long-standing resentment, hurt and lack of romance.
  1. Another big mistake couples make is threatening separation or divorce when angry or hurt. It is tempting sometimes to make these threats but they are a huge trauma to the attachment and sense of safety within a marriage. We all know that “till death do us part” is not a given in any marriage, but these threats cannot be made in jest. It puts a crack in your commitment and jeopardizes your bond.

Please consider these points before you lash out at your spouse as you may cause irreparable damage to your marriage.

How Comparison May Be Destroying Your Marriage

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

It is difficult not to compare ourselves and our marriage to those of others. It is kind of natural. But we need to be careful. There are some constructive parts to this comparison, in that you may see something that others are doing that you want to implement in your relationship or your life. Something you did not think about or were not aware of.

However, most of the time comparisons can create bad feelings, hopelessness and resentment. Not to mention social isolation. These comparisons are also often inaccurate. They can create feelings of jealousy towards others and anger towards your partner.

One thing I know is true – You Never Know What Goes On In Someone Else’s Marriage. This has proven to be true over and over again both in my professional and my personal life. Most couples show you what they want you to see. Most of the time it has no relation to reality and will cause you pain for no reason. Another point is someone else’s happiness or misery has nothing to do with anyone else. If you want to learn from someone’s positive qualities or attributes, that is great, but to put another relationship on a pedestal and devalue yours because of it makes no sense.

Often, when we are comparing our marriage to someone else’s our partner feels criticized and made responsible for what is lacking. This leads to conflict. Even if the partner is not directly implicated in your marriage being less then someone else’s, your partner still feels it is their fault.

If there are issues in your marriage, look at them and deal with them. Everyone comes into life and marriage with their own histories, advantages and disadvantages. We all have to struggle and we all have adversities. Just focus on that.