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    Couples Counseling

    Are you unhappy in your relationship? Feeling disconnectedUnappreciated?  Maybe you have same discussions over and over, but nothing changes.  You feel your relationship withering, month by month, and you can’t seem to change it.  You might even be thinking about separating, though you aren’t ready to make that big decision.

    One of the most painful experiences of my life was the slow death of my marriage.  Couples counseling was just a rehash of the same fights we had at home. The divorce that followed was expensive, punishing, and painful for everyone in our family. It took me years to recover from the physical and emotional exhaustion. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    I’ve since remarried, and my husband is my best friend. We are blissfully happy. You may not believe me when I say “blissful.”  If you’d told me ten years ago, I could be this happy, I wouldn’t have believed it either.  I was sure that every marriage was as difficult as mine, and couples who said they were happy were faking it.  I can’t promise you perpetual bliss, but can you imagine blissful seasons, or blissful moments in your marriage?

    Let me teach you the tools to make your partnership work better.  I will show you how to fight for your relationship and each other, with love, and to create a relationship that makes you both happy. I use Relational Life Therapy to help couples and individuals understand the underlying origins of their conflicts, to quit fighting, and to problem solve together.

    RLT offers practical, clear tools you can implement immediately to improve your relationship. We will identify where, how, and why things are going wrong between you. Then we will work step-by-step on things like self-esteem, boundaries, and communication strategies.  As you practice these skills, you will become better partners, and build a better, happier relationship.

    What if you partner refuses to go to therapy?  I teach these same skills to individuals. In many instances, when one person changes, the other person can also begin to change.  When you take responsibility for your part of the relationship, you will begin to feel stronger and more confident.  And you will be able to see more clearly how you want to proceed with your relationship.

    I would love to tell you more about Relational Life Therapy. If you are interested, email me to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute no-obligation consultation. Because I believe that everybody deserves a cherishing relationship.

    Couples therapy is $350 per ninety minute session (I do not take insurance).

    FAQs about Couples Counseling

    Should you fight for your marriage?

    Absolutely! I cannot say this strongly enough! You should fight for your marriage! Until you are absolutely positive that your marriage is over, it is still worth fighting for. While marriage can be difficult, it teaches us important lessons that help us with our personal evolution. You and your partner can learn together and grow together into better partners, parents, and human beings. It is truly a blessing to be able to walk through the fire together and come out the other side stronger.

    On a more practical note, my divorce cost my ex-husband and me a lot of money.  We sold the house I thought my future grandchildren would visit.  I lost a wonderful set of in-laws. My kids hated me. I was physically, emotionally and financially exhausted. Divorce is awful. Fight for your marriage, until you know there is nothing left.

    How do I know if my marriage is over?

    If you aren’t sure, your marriage isn’t over. If your marriage is meant to end, you will feel it inside yourself. You will know.

    What can couples therapy help with?

    Couples therapy can help with a lot of things.  It can teach you how to treat each other with warm regard and respect.  You will still have disagreements. Your partner will still upset you at times, just as you’ll upset them.  But you can learn to stay connected to your love for your partner, and work together for the good of your marriage.

    The model I use for relationship work is Relational Life Therapy. RLT offers numerous tools for strengthening relationships. The Feedback Wheel and Timeouts can help reduce tension and conflict while understanding the Relationship Grid can improve your relationship dynamic. The RLT framework and skills help you and your partner build greater understanding and trust in your relationship, enhance mutuality, and shift you towards a loving, intimate partnership.

    How do you choose a marriage counselor?

    It sounds obvious, but your counselor should have training specifically in couples therapy. I use the Relational Life Therapy model for my work.  Clients find the concepts useful in understanding their dynamics, and the skills effective for improving communication. Other good models for couples counseling include the Gottman Method, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, and Imago Relationship Therapy.

    If a therapist doesn’t have training in couples therapy, it is unlikely they will be able to help you.

    What does it mean when a couple fights all the time?

    Constant fighting in a relationship could mean a lot of things.

    It could mean that you are locked in a power struggle or that a partner’s self-esteem struggles are negatively impacting the relationship. It could mean that a partner’s trauma history is showing up in the relationship or that you are misunderstanding each other when you try to communicate (this happens all the time).
    The best way to understand why this is happening in your relationship is to meet with a knowledgeable couples counselor who can help you recognize what is happening between you, why it is happening, and how to change it.

    Is couples counseling expensive?

    It might seem like it, at first.

    But an unhappy marriage holds a lot of hidden costs – the cost of “misery stabilizers” such as emotional shopping, alcohol, and other drugs, the potential cost of reduced effectiveness at work, the bad mood you might bring to other important relationships in your life. These hidden costs can build up very quickly. On top of that, an unhappy marriage can also take a physical toll – distressed marriages are shown to increase inflammatory proteins, which are linked to increased risk of things like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

    And it’s not just you. An unhappy marriage with kids puts your children at risk for increased mental health challenges. Your children are learning what a marriage looks like by watching you and your spouse. Would you want your children to have the marriage that you have right now? If not, you and your partner can work to achieve a marriage that you would wish for them and that you are proud to model for them. The best thing you can do for your children is to have a good marriage.

    If couple counseling prices are more than you can afford, there are some options you can explore on your own. I tell everyone I know to listen to the couples counseling audiobook Fierce Intimacy. You and your partner can listen to the book and work on the skills together. You could also go to an individual counselor who accepts your insurance to help you work on relationship skills. Oftentimes, when one partner changes, the other partner will begin to change as well.

    Where to get couples counseling? 

    There are many options for couples counseling.  The easiest is online couples counseling.  Clients who work with me like the ease and convenience of online counseling. You won’t fight traffic. You won’t spend time commuting. You won’t run into other people.  More importantly, you can meet with several counselors in your state online, and pick the one that is the best fit for you and your spouse.

    Is online counseling safe?

    In general, yes.  You will want to confirm that your therapist uses a HIPAA compliant video platform. Just like an in-person therapist, you will also want to confirm that they are a licensed therapist in your state.  I offer online counseling for couples via Simple Practice, a secure, HIPAA-compliant video platform created for healthcare providers.

    What can couples therapy help with? 

    Whatever the current stressor, a couples counselor will help you understand the underlying dynamic of your fights.

    Very often,we are fighting in the present using unhelpful responses we learned in the past. If you learned in the past that the way to deal with conflict is to shut down, you are probably doing that in your marriage.  If you learned that anger and yelling was the most effective way to deal with conflict,you are probably doing that now.

    Learning and implementing new communication skills will help you understand each other better, and work as a team.

    Can couples counseling really work?

    Absolutely! And it is hard work. You will have to practice the skills between sessions. You will want to slip into old, unhealthy habits because they are familiar and automatic.  But if you put in the hard work, you can have a reinvigorated, healthier, more intimate relationship.

    There are some things that prevent successful couples counseling, including active affairs, active and untreated substance use problems, and untreated mental health challenges, and domestic violence.