Couples

Marriage or intimate relationship, when going well, can be one of the more joyful and positive aspects of life. But when going poorly, it can be one of life’s more frustrating and painful experiences. Sadly, a high percentage of marriages and intimate relationships turn unhappy, sooner or later.Why is this? One reason is that few have had the good fortune to be raised by parents who had a loving, engaged, and happy marriage. We’ve therefore internalized negative and painful expectations and lessons about intimate relationships, and these often drive us to develop unhappy relationships in our own lives–although we are often unaware that early influences are shaping our behavior.A second reason marriages and relationships often end up unhappy is quite simple: we don’t learn and apply relationship skills.At the beginning of relationships–in the blissful, exciting dance of infatuation–it seems so natural, so easy to get along and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us are therefore fooled into believing that no skills or great efforts are required in creating a successful and enduring intimate connection. Yet with passing time the infatuation fades, differences emerge, stresses increase, resentments build…and the connection that once seemed so natural and pleasurable too often develops into an emotionally distant, even hostile, arrangement. And having assumed that our marriage or relationship would go smoothly, we become puzzled, frustrated, angry or anxious–because life isn’t matching our expectations.

Counseling can be a good way to begin solving problems, settling disputes, understanding and accepting each other more deeply , planning for a better relationship, and learning skills that will result in achieving or restoring a more pleasant connection.

In my practice I see couples for marriage counseling, pre-marital counseling, and relationship counseling.

In working with couples, here are several key elements of my approach:

  • A safe, respectful, non-judgmental forum in which to discuss the situation.
  • A comprehensive assessment, comprising several questionnaires, of how each partner experiences various aspects of the marriage or relationship.
  • Communication skills, especially conflict communication skills. All couples must have some conflict; successful couples know how to have effective conflict–where each party feels respected and heard.
  • Identifying specific problems and stressors–and negotiating practical and fair solutions.
  • Understanding differences in what makes each partner feel loved. (Similar to, but more comprehensive than, the “Love Languages” model.)
  • Identifying ways the couple can have more fun together and enjoy each other’s company better.
  • Personality type assessments (MBTI/Keirsey). Part of understanding a relationship involves understanding the legitimate differences in personality between the partners.
  • I do not look to identify one partner as the “bad” or “guilty” party. I am not in the role of judge or moral authority. Instead, I see myself as being on the team of the couple–trying to help them better enjoy their lives together.
  • No Pressure on Religious or lifestyle Issues. In the context of counseling, I respect each couple’s belief system(s) and lifestyle choices, and help them improve the quality of their relationship, whatever their beliefs and practices. I work effectively with both religious and non-religious couples, as well as with interfaith couples, and other uncommon and unconventional arrangements. If you wonder whether I work well with your particular type of arrangements, feel free to call me and ask.
  • (If relevant) Understanding how each partner’s upbringing, and relationship history, may be influencing the current marriage or relationship.

 

Here is some additional information about my work with couples: There are two cases where I do not believe I can be helpful to a couple, because they are not likely to be able to build intimacy: if they are experiencing domestic violence (physical), or if either of them is having a secret affair they are unwilling to end. Session length is 50 minutes. The frequency of sessions tends to start out at once a week (though you only commit to one session at a time). After significant progress has been made, the frequency can be reduced to twice a month or less, and still be helpful.

If you have further questions, you may want to check the FAQ’s page on this website.

If you’d like to be in touch, either for further information or to set an appointment, the best way to contact me is by phone, at 809-4777.

If you prefer email, you may use the form below:

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