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How Do You Know if Your Marriage Needs Counseling?

Many couples see marriage counseling as a last resort or as something that is only for “failed relationships,” but this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth! Couples therapy can help strengthen relationships in any stage or under any amount of stress. Whether you’re preparing to move in together, planning a wedding, or celebrating the arrival of your third child, couples therapy can help find small cracks and fix them before they spread. Or if you and your partner are facing major challenges, couples counseling can help you overcome them together.

One of the best marriage counseling tips is to get started sooner rather than later. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all. In this article, we’ll go over some of the common signs that you and your partner should consider couples therapy. Let’s dive in.

Do We Need Marriage Counseling?

Relationships are hard. Sometimes, we need an outside perspective to separate us from frustrations and look at the bigger picture. Working with a marriage counselor gives you access to their outside perspective, their  experience in healing relationships, and their desire to use their skills towards the best outcome for you and your partner.

Seeking the help of a marriage counselor can have four key benefits, helping you and your partner to:

  1. Identify the root causes of your relationship issues and negative feelings
  2. Resolve budding issues before they grow into major problems 
  3. Actively pursue self-improvement that helps your relationship
  4. Rekindle your relationship and deepen intimacy

How Often Should Couples Go to Therapy?

While there is no set amount of time that couples therapy can last for, most couples attend therapy for 4-10 months. During the duration of their therapy, couples typically attend 2-4 sessions per month.

However, when scheduling your couples therapy sessions, it’s important to remember that each couple is unique. How long it takes for you and your partner to see results and how often you find it beneficial to attend sessions can—and often will—vary greatly from other couples. 

How Do You Know When Your Marriage Needs Help?

You and your partner don’t have to wait for a catastrophe to start attending marriage counseling. In fact, marriage counseling works well as preventive care. If you identify problems while they’re small, you can overcome them together before they threaten the stability of your relationship. Early counseling  also helps couples plan and achieve their common goals and sets a solid foundation for the rest of your journey.

Of course, marriage counseling can also be extremely valuable even in the hardest of times for your relationship.

Whichever stage your relationship is in, here are some of the most common signs that you and your partner could benefit from marriage counseling:

  • You have mismatched desires for intimacy: Emotional and physical intimacy can enhance relationships when both partners are on the same page for what they prefer to give and receive. However, if one partner has expectations that the other partner doesn’t fulfill, it can cause frustrations for both people. Marriage counseling can help each partner communicate their desire for giving and receiving intimacy and help couples rekindle their desire for intimacy they felt early on in the relationship.

  • You are holding onto hidden feelings of resentment or bitterness: Bottled up feelings hurt the person holding them and can go unnoticed by their partner until they erupt into negative actions. Marriage counseling gives couples a safe space to express their feelings, so they can work with their partner on ways to resolve what causes those feelings of resentment and bitterness. 

  • You avoid spending social time together: It’s important for each partner to maintain their own life and sense of identity. Too much codependency can place an unreasonable burden on someone to provide everything for their partner. However, having little to no connection outside of the home can also be a sign of trouble. Marriage counseling provides an opportunity for couples to analyze why they prefer spending so much time apart and look for ways they can integrate portions of their social life. 

  • You have arguments that are lasting, unresolved, and repetitive: Arguments are a part of every relationship, and in many cases, they are a healthy way to communicate boundaries and come to a resolution. However, arguments that come up again and again can be a sign of underlying issues. Marriage counseling can help couples get to the root of repetitive arguments, so they can settle those disputes and come out stronger for it. 

  • You feel the need to keep major and minor secrets: Keeping important things from your partner—like major financial decisions—can ruin the trust in a relationship. While this may seem obvious to many couples, it’s also important to be honest about the little things, too, like friendships and where you spend your time when you’re away from your partner. Marriage counseling can help couples uncover why they feel the need to keep both major and minor secrets, and develop a plan to share those secrets to be more honest going forward. 

  • You lack the ability to communicate without fear: Relationships need communication to remain healthy, but sometimes, one or both partners find it hard to express what they’re feeling. Fear of embarrassment, not being understood, or negative repercussions (like shouting or violence) can keep individuals from expressing what they’re actually feeling. Marriage counseling creates a space in which each partner can voice what they’re feeling, while a counselor moderates the conversation so each party can be heard, safe, and understood. 

If you feel that something isn’t right in your relationship, it may be tempting to find reasons not to go to therapy. These reasons are often rooted in uncertainty, so let’s take a closer look at why someone might not want to go to couples therapy:

Can a Marriage Be Saved Without Counseling?

In some situations, a couple can save their marriage without counseling if they have the tools to improve their relationship and the dedication to see the process through. However, it’s often beneficial to work with a professional because they have experience working through the types of problems that you’re going through. It can also be beneficial to meet with an impartial third party for an unbiased perspective.

A common fear—and reason that some people avoid counseling—is that a marriage counselor could encourage divorce. However, at Well Marriage Center, our counselors are marriage-positive and do not recommend divorce. We believe that your relationship is worth saving, can be saved, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

How Do You Know If It’s Too Late for Marriage Counseling?

It’s never too late for marriage counseling unless either you or your partner no longer wish to stay together. One of the reasons that couples may avoid counseling is because they don’t want to be told that it’s too late to heal their relationship. However, the fact that both members don’t want their relationship to end is a really good sign that it can be saved. Marriage counselors can provide the tools, space, and consistency for couples to recommit to their relationship and find ways to improve it together.

Find a Way Forward with Well Marriage Center

If your relationship feels tense, stale, or disconnected, it doesn’t mean it’s time to call it quits. Instead, consider working with a couples therapist to find ways to heal and rekindle your relationship. You want your relationship to succeed, and at Well Marriage Center, our professionals do, too. 

Give your relationship the time, space, and chance to recover. Visit our website to learn more, and if you’re ready to sign up, fill out our Intake Form to get started. 




Fun Relationship Exercises for Couples

Have you hit a rocky patch in your romantic relationship? You’re not alone. Everyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that these are bound to happen occasionally. After all, you’re both human and can’t agree all the time. If you get to a point where you squabble frequently or feel disconnected from  one another, you may consider marriage counseling or couples therapy. It’s a great way to deepen your connection and rekindle your love for one another.

Marriage counseling is about more than showing up to sessions, though. One of the common marriage counseling tips you might discover when searching online, or even once you begin therapy, is that rebuilding your relationship takes effort outside of each session, too. That’s why we have compiled this beginners list of  activities to strengthen your relationship that you and your partner can try on your own.

What Activities Can Couples Do To Strengthen Their Relationship?

There are many activities out there that you can try with your partner to set a spark between you. The ultimate goal of these activities is to improve communication, build trust, and reconnect with one another. Some of the recommended exercises are more serious and you may want to do that with a reliable counselor, such as listing the things you love about the other person as well as one or two complaints you have in your relationship and then sharing that list with one another. Others, like what we’ve listed here, allow you to have fun while strengthening your relationship. 

We take a look at some of the more fun relationship building activities for couples in the next few sections. You can even do some of these couple bonding activities at home.

What Are Some Communication Exercises for Couples?

These activities work to improve both your communication and your active listening skills:

  • Copycat Exercise: You and your partner will need blocks for this activity. The two of you should sit back to back. One of you should build something out of the blocks. Then, once completed, you will explain to your partner how to build what you built. Once done, compare results. Repeat however many times you see fit, but you should both give directions at least once.
  • Obstacle Course: One of you should stand in a room alone. The other person should set up obstacles in a different room. These can be books laying on the floor, chairs blocking normal entry ways, etc. Once completed, tie a blindfold around your partner’s eyes. Without touching them, give them directions on how to get around the obstacles until they reach the other side of the room. You should each take a turn setting up obstacles and guiding the other person at least once.
  • Museum Visit: Go to a museum together and see the same exhibits. Once you’re done, discuss what parts you liked and what you didn’t. Listen to each other’s opinions without arguing. If you would rather, you can also do a book club between you two instead. Read the same book and share opinions on it once you’ve both completed it.

What Are Some Trust Building Exercises for Couples?

These activities allow you to build trust on a small level so that it’s much easier for you to practice it on a larger level:

  • Home Improvement Project: This could be something as small as repainting a portion of the house or as big as building a garden. Whatever you decide, this activity builds trust by teaching you to rely on the other person for help without bossing them around. It even helps with communication because you have to decide what you want to do for your project (what color to paint, what flowers to grow, etc.) together. And you’ll have a constant reminder of the work you did together every time you see your completed project.
  • Take Turns Planning Dates: This exercise is especially useful in relationships where one person might make more decisions than the other person. By taking turns planning dates, you show your partner that you trust them to plan something that you’ll both end up enjoying. And, if all goes well, you’ll have some new, fun memories from it.
  • Create a Dream Board: Sharing your dreams with your partner and allowing them to share with you will build trust between you two. Not only should you discuss your dream boards, but you should also figure out a rough timeline of when you want them to happen and how you two can work together to achieve them.

What Are Good Relationship Building Activities for Fun?

Rekindling the spark in a relationship is just as important as developing clear communication and building trust. These emotional bonding activities for couples can help with that spark:

  • Recreate a Date: Think of one of the first or most enjoyable dates you two had with one another. Recreate that date by visiting the same restaurant, doing the same activities, and/or eating and drinking the same things. This will allow you to relive a time that made you both happy, remember good memories and make more.
  • Plan a Trip: Travel someplace neither of you has been before. This could be to a new country, a new state, or even to a town not too far away. Because neither of you have been there before, you will create new memories with just the two of you and make that place special to your relationship.
  • Start a New Hobby: Find some sort of activity that both of you are interested in trying. This could be taking a cooking class, working out together, or even learning to sail. Whatever you two are feeling, try it out. A new hobby can also help with trust building, as you will have to rely on one another as you both learn.

If you have tried some of these activities and realize that you still need some help in growing your romantic relationship, building trust, or improving communication, marriage counseling and couples therapy can help. Our specialists have over 500 years combined experience just with couples, and are here to assist you on your journey. 

Rebuild a Fun Relationship at Well Marriage Center

At Well Marriage Center, we want to see your relationship succeed as much as you do. That’s why we take a marriage-friendly approach to counseling. We believe in your relationship, and we focus on making your marriage work instead of suggesting divorce unless absolutely necessary. If you are ready to improve communication, rebuild trust, and rekindle the fire in your relationship, then seek out our therapists at Well Marriage Center. We know this step can be scary, but don’t worry. We have faith in your relationship, and counseling will only make your relationship stronger. Get started with scheduling an appointment here.


 

 

Success Stories: Nadia and Liam

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Nadia and Liam

Mary asked me to be honest with this, so here goes: when we first came to see Mary, we were ready to separate.  I don’t think I had ever felt more disconnected with Liam.  We fought most of the time, and honestly, we hurt each other quite a bit.  I know I definitely felt hurt.  I honestly didn’t think we could make it.  I cannot describe in words what that feeling is like.

When Liam and I think back to where we were, we’re thankful for two main things.  First, that we went and saw someone instead of just giving up.  And not just someone, but someone who understood what was happening to us.

Mary told us she works primarily with couples and it was obvious she had experience.  Second, we could tell from the very beginning that she wanted us to make it.  It was just a few subtle comments she made in our first meeting that seemed hopeful – at least they gave us hope.  That turned out to be really important for us.

Throughout our time with Mary she really worked hard with us to make progress, to help us understand what was happening in our relationship and also what was happening to us individually.  She helped empower us to heal some old wounds that I never even realized were causing so much pain.  And she got us working right from the beginning to communicate better, which seems like a simple thing, but for a couple that feels so disconnected, it was a big deal for us.

Today we have better self-esteem which helps us to have a better connection with each other.  We have a stronger bond that we both feel.  We are incredibly grateful to Mary – I wish I could rave more freely about her.  What I’ll say is the greatest thing about her: she will work hard for your relationship in a way that helps you feel hope.  You won’t waste your time with her – she gets you moving right from the get-go in a very safe and supportive way.”


 

Can Couples Therapy Help You Fall Back in Love?

Most of us have heard of—and experienced—the honeymoon phase of a relationship. Sparks fly, and everything feels new, happy, and exciting. This stage of a relationship is truly wonderful, but it’s not what sustains a long-term relationship. The fact is, marriages and relationships take work, and they’re bound to have their highs and lows. 

As the months and years go by, it’s not uncommon for feelings to dim over time or for the little things to start adding up. You might start to feel more like roommates. And, you might start to question whether or not you’re still in love with your partner.

If any of this rings true, you might be wondering, “Can lost feelings come back?” The good news is that marriage counseling or couples therapy can help you reignite your love for one another—as long as you and your partner are willing to put in the work. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to bring love back into a marriage with counseling and signs that marriage counseling is working.

How Do You Fix a Relationship After Losing Feelings?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that couples therapy won’t improve your relationship and rejuvenate your feelings overnight. It takes sustained work from both you and your partner. But with dedication and the right couples counselor, it’s more than possible to rekindle your feelings and your relationship! Here are a few tips to help you in this journey.

Be Ready to Put in the Work

There’s no doubt about it; couples therapy—and the work you do both in and out of sessions—is hard. During therapy sessions, you’ll likely find yourself having difficult conversations and confronting big or small issues in your relationship. Your counselor can help you identify unhealthy patterns in your relationship, understand the roadblocks or issues you are facing, and develop strategies to improve these situations—and ultimately, your relationship. 

In addition to showing up physically and mentally for counseling sessions, you may also be asked to do homework outside of sessions. For example, you might be asked to write your partner a letter about what you admire about them. Or, you might be asked to share experiences with one another, like watching a favorite movie, sharing a hobby, or going on a date. Putting the work in and intentionally completing these kinds of activities can help you rebuild the foundation of your relationship and fall back in “like” with each other, one of the key elements for finding your way back to love.

Remember What Made You Fall in Love in the First Place

When your relationship feels tense, it can be difficult to remember the good moments and what you love, or once loved, about your partner. Combine that with kids, bills, workplace stressors, and so much more, and it can be easy to forget your partner’s good qualities. But rediscovering the feelings you once had can go a long way to rekindling your love.

At Well Marriage Center, we practice a strengths-based approach to marriage counseling, which uses your individual and relational strengths to build a foundation for success. When we begin working with a couple, we start with a structured relationship strengths and wellness assessment. You’ll be asked to reflect and share what brought you together, what your relationship was like in the beginning, what some of your favorite moments have been, and more. Not only can doing this build a safe space to discuss your current relationship dynamics and issues, but it will help you remember what you truly admire about one another.

Be Vulnerable and Willing to Grow and Adapt

Maybe you’re feeling stressed about household chores, the kids, your job, or other responsibilities. Maybe you’ve found that your relationship has developed unhealthy communication patterns. Maybe a lack of intimacy has instilled feelings of doubt. Maybe things have gotten so rough or feel so hopeless that you’re wondering, “Is marriage counseling worth it?” 

While it may seem counterintuitive, being vulnerable and opening up about your concerns in a healthy and safe environment, like couples therapy, can help you and your partner reconnect. Our therapists are specifically trained to walk you through these moments of vulnerability. When resentments and negative feelings build up, it tends to block out the good stuff about your partner. If you can both open up about how you’re feeling and be willing to work on improving these problems, though, these negative feelings can fade in light of understanding. This will make it much easier to notice all the qualities about your partner that made you fall in love to begin with.

Do Couples Stay Together After Therapy?

Yes—time and time again we see couples rekindle their love for each other! Couples therapy often gets a bad reputation, and you’ve probably heard horror stories about therapists telling couples to split. But the truth is that many marriage counselors, including our team at Well Marriage Center, practice a marriage-friendly approach to therapy. 

What this means is that you won’t have to worry about things like, “Will a couples therapist tell you to break up?” Our therapists are relationship specialists who will carry the support and hope that you and your partner can heal your relationship and rekindle your love.

Rebuild Your Love with Well Marriage Center

Beginning therapy is often a scary or anxiety-riddled endeavor for couples. At Well Marriage Center, we’ve made it our goal to ensure that you and your partner feel supported every step of the way. Before you get started, it can be helpful to review our website to find out more about our process and what to expect.

Once you’re ready, you can get started by filling out a short Intake Form and setting up a call with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She’ll answer any questions you have and connect you with one of our experienced therapists. Taking the next step will take work—but your effort can help you reignite your relationship.




 

What Is Talked About During Marriage Counseling?

Nervous about your first marriage counseling session? You’re not alone. Marriage counseling is an extremely vulnerable experience, bound to unearth intense emotions for everyone involved. Fortunately, if you and your partner know what to expect before you begin, it can feel a lot less scary—and you’ll likely get more out of the experience. So, how do couples prepare for a therapy session? Although the specifics of your marriage/ couples therapy exercises will differ depending on your unique goals, there are some basic steps you can take to ready yourself for any initial therapy session. 

To help prepare you for your healing journey, Well Marriage Center answered a few of the most common marriage counseling questions that couples ask when starting therapy

Frequently Asked Marriage Counseling Session Questions

What Do You Talk About Before Couples Counseling?

Naturally, every couple’s reasons for pursuing therapy differ. However, there are common factors that often contribute to strife in a relationship, such as:

  • Communication issues
  • Loss of romantic feelings
  • Financial issues
  • How to raise children 
  • Health issues
  • Trauma  
  • Intimacy issues
  • Infidelity

If there are clear stressors—like those listed above—that you and your partner deem the main source of tension, then it would be best to review those points before your first therapy session. 

However, if your reasoning is less cut and dry, then it maybe is beneficial for you both to explore the following questions before starting therapy: 

  • Do we want to stay together? 
  • What are your opinions of therapy?
  • What are the most significant problems in our marriage? 
  • Does this rough patch/relationship feel temporary or permanent?
  • When did you first notice that something was wrong? 

Going through these questions can give you a better idea of how to navigate counseling. It’s important to note that you do not need concrete answers so long as you both actively engage with these questions on a deeper emotional level. 

Additionally, reviewing these types of questions in advance will better prepare you and your partner to have difficult conversations, making your first counseling experience more productive and beneficial for everyone.

What Do You Talk About During Marriage Counseling?

As we’ve said before, the specific topics of each counseling session vary greatly depending on the couple’s unique goals and challenges. Every couple is different, so every counseling approach is equally distinctive. That being said, here are a few of the most common questions a good therapist  asks during an initial counseling session. 

  • In general, how would you describe your life and marriage together?
  • What does the timeline of your relationship look like? 
  • What strengths do you bring to the table in your relationship? And what strengths do you think your partner has? 
  • Do you have any prior experience with marriage counseling or other types of therapy?
  • What made you decide to seek marriage counseling?
  • Have you tried anything to resolve present issues before seeking counseling? What did you try, and how did that go?
  • What do you expect to get out of couples therapy? 
  • Do you currently want to stay with your partner? Why or why not? 
  • Are you willing to put in the work and make changes to improve the quality of your marriage?

Is There a Difference Between Couples Therapy vs Marriage Counseling?

This depends on who you ask, but Well Marriage Center uses these terms interchangeably. We believe that all couples, legally married or not, can repair and strengthen their relationships via therapy. Ultimately, the end goal of therapy for all types of couples is the same—to heal, reinforce their relationship, and bring about a happier future together. 

How Long Do Couples Usually Go to Counseling?

The actual duration of couples counseling is different for everyone and depends on several factors, like:

  • How long you have been together
  • What your needs are
  • What challenges are present
  • The counseling model used by the therapist

In the end, the average length of marriage counseling doesn’t matter. A couple may pursue counseling for as long as they need to; incorporating a strict timeline doesn’t do anyone any favors, and may add unnecessary stress. 

Searching For Marriage-Friendly Counseling? Try Well Marriage Center

It’s important to understand that pursuing counseling does not mean you have failed as a couple. Instead, it’s a chance to make your relationship even stronger. Regardless of your specific situation, you and your partner deserve a therapist who will help you pursue individual happiness while advocating for the success of your relationship. 

Although counseling can feel daunting, the right therapist will help you and your partner work through the tension to build a stronger and happier union. Our licensed, specialized therapists know how to tailor your therapy experience so you and your partner can discover mutually beneficial solutions. 

If you are both ready to take the first step of your counseling journey, fill out our short intake form and set up a consultation with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She’ll happily walk you through our process and answer any questions you have to match you with a counselor who meets your unique needs. 


 

 

What Should I Not Tell a Marriage Counselor?

All relationships go through phases. Sometimes, you’re perfectly in sync with your partner and your personalities just click. You are open when communicating with each other, and you are excited to celebrate their wins or weather their losses together. Then there are times when you can’t seem to agree on anything. Whether it’s spending habits or how they chew, sometimes your partner just irritates you. There are also the times in between, when you and your partner settle into your routines. You may start to feel more like coworkers and roommates while doing chores, running errands, or raising kids and pets. Whichever stage you’re in, you’re not alone. Couples across the globe struggle to keep the spark alive when everyday life gets in the way.

And, while you’re not alone in your experience, you also don’t have to be alone in working toward a more solid relationship. That’s where marriage counseling comes in. In fact, 49% of couples have attended some form of counseling with their partner, even if they aren’t married. A growing number of couples are seeing the benefits that sessions can have on their relationships, such as improving communication, identifying the root causes of conflicts, and strengthening emotional and physical intimacy. Yet, it’s not uncommon to feel hesitant to open up about your private life to a professional. Lacking answers to questions like “What do you say at marriage counseling?” and “Why does marriage counseling fail?” can prevent couples from seeking help, even when they truly need it. 

At Well Marriage Center, our goal is to make the benefits of couples therapy accessible to all, so we’ve put together this guide on marriage counseling: what not to say

What Not To Say During Couples Counseling?

While you shouldn’t hide anything from your couples therapist, there are certain phrases or ways of saying things that will harm your relationship further instead of healing it. Oftentimes, these phrases are ways of lashing out about problems rather than identifying and working to solve them, which causes both sides to feel worse after marriage counseling. Here’s a list of phrases you should avoid in favor of more reflective ones:  

“No, You’re Wrong…”

While both you and your partner should feel comfortable expressing how you feel, shutting down the other party’s perspective or playing the blame game closes off communication and leaves no room for growth. The same situation could be interpreted completely differently by you and your partner. If they start to open up about what they experienced and you interrupt with “You’re wrong,” you won’t get the chance to understand their perspective. You don’t necessarily have to agree with your partner’s version of events, but it helps to know what they are in order to get to the root cause of your disconnect. 

“Don’t Tell My Partner This…”

You don’t want to create a situation with your couples therapist taking sides. Asking your therapist to keep a secret from your partner can put them in a tricky situation. Should they take your side and keep your secret or should they take your partner’s side—revealing your secret and possibly compromising the relationship while betraying your trust? If you have information that you aren’t sure how to share with your partner, however, it is okay to ask your therapist to help create a plan to have that conversation. 

“I’m Done. I Want a Divorce.”

Often, this is purely an expression of frustration and a way to try to make your partner feel small. We can tell because if you really wanted to end the relationship, you would be meeting with a divorce lawyer instead of a couples therapist. Instead of this phrase that can only result in your partner getting defensive or shouting back the same, it’s more constructive to explain the feelings behind those words. Are you struggling to believe that things could get better, or has your partner hurt you in a way that you don’t feel you can move on from?  

What Do You Say During Marriage Counseling?

If you find yourself ready to lash out with words that you hope will do some damage, then you should say something different. When you feel like using any of the above phrases, here’s a list of what you could say instead:

“No, You’re Wrong…”

  • Instead, say “I understand why you feel this way, but I had a different experience during this situation.”

“Don’t Tell My Partner This…”

  • Instead, say “I’m not sure how to tell my partner this. Can you help me bring this up once our relationship is strong enough?”

“I’m Done. I Want a Divorce.”

  • Instead, say “I don’t feel that you’re trying to understand my concerns as we work on our relationship.”

Using these alternative phrases doesn’t just help prevent tense situations from escalating, they can also help you rekindle your trust and respect. Choosing to not be reactive gives you the chance to learn more about your partner and their experience, which can bring you closer to one another. 

Relationships Are Hard. Navigate the Ups and Downs with Well Marriage Center. 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may be sound advice for your garage door, but it isn’t for your relationship. Even if you aren’t experiencing major problems in your relationship, couples therapy can still benefit you and your partner by opening up communication. At Well Marriage Center, we view couples therapy as preventative care. We help you uncover and deal with underlying challenges in your relationship so you can fix them early or heal from unresolved issues. 

That’s why we’ve made getting started with a couples therapist easy. All you have to do is schedule an initial consultation online with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. Then we create a customized plan to help you meet your goals through consistent appointments. Are you ready to build the foundation for a more healthy, intimate relationship? Schedule an appointment to get started! 


 

On Predicting Divorce

The Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse 

With the news always sounding like it’s the end of the world, I thought it would be a fitting time to address the difficult reality of divorce – particularly what indicators in a relationship are most likely to lead to its end.

Are there warning signs you can pay attention to that may prevent the end of your marriage?   

Dr. John Gottman is one of the leading marriage researchers and a top authority in the marriage counseling world. We have the utmost respect for Dr. Gottman and all of our marriage counselors are required to complete Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 trainings…at a minimum. Dr. Gottman reports that he can predict with 96% accuracy within the first few minutes of a couple having a conversation whether the relationship he is watching will survive over the long-haul or not. He bases his prediction on four elements, which he calls the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. These lethal horseman “clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling.” I’m going to explain these four elements below because they are indeed incredibly toxic to the long-term success of your relationship.

BUT, all hope is not lost if one or more describe you. We work with couples all the time who have one or more of these “horseman” present in their relationship. I’ve seen too many of these couples do the hard work of stopping these horsemen in their tracks, survive, and go on to thrive in their relationship. We think the important distinction is this: the continuation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is what dooms a marriage, not just their presence.

So, the good news is: tomorrow is not actually the end of the world…and tomorrow doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage! But many couples do wait until these horsemen are firmly entrenched. If any of the four below describe you, contact the relationship specialists at Well Marriage Center immediately. We’re trained and experienced to help your marriage grow and thrive…for the long term!

Dr. John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse:

1)      Criticism: This is different than having a complaint about our partner or offering a critique, which are normal in a long-term relationship. No, what he’s referring is how we communicate our complaints to our partners. Criticism is “a way of fueling an attack, so you state your complaint as an attack on the other person. It’s not constructive and it ends up escalating the conflict.” It’s when we complain by way of attacking our partner at their very core.

Example:  “You haven’t asked me about how my day and how my big meeting went” is a complaint. A criticism on the other hand is more general and blaming, “You always talk about yourself and never think about me. You’re so selfish.”

2)      Contempt: Dr. Gottman considers this perhaps the best indicator of divorce, because it quickly reveals the “respect” value of a relationship. This element contains a deadly air of superiority in which we are mean, often treating our partner with disrespect by using sarcasm, name-calling, ridicule, eye-rolling, etc. Our partner feels despised and worthless. Dr. Gottman says contempt is absolutely deadly and must be eliminated.

Example:  “You really are a self-centered jerk. You just do whatever you want without regard for anyone else. You’re the sorriest excuse for a wife or husband I can think of.”

3)      Defensiveness:  This is a particularly easy element to allow into our relationships. If we feel accused, our natural inclination is to defend ourselves, to offer an excuse, or to shift blame back to the other person. But the danger in defensiveness is that it communicates we don’t hear our partner’s complaint. By being defensive and deflecting, we are ignoring our partner. Dr. Gottman calls this defensiveness “self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victim-hood.”

Example:  “It’s not my fault I didn’t call you, I wasn’t near a phone.”

4)      Stonewalling: When a partner gets too tired or is afraid of confronting issues, he or she will just withdraw. Emotionally, physically, mentally. Also known as the silent treatment. During an argument this can translate as stony silence, meaning the partner doesn’t engage or ignores their partner – which often escalates the fight. Stonewalling involves turning away from our partner.

Example: The listener does not give the speaker the usual nonverbal signals that the listener is “tracking” the speaker.

There is Hope Yet

Our trained therapists use the best of relationship science to help you and your partner break out of these toxic cycles. Get started with us today!


Well Marriage Center Launches!

For years I’ve heard Glen Denlinger dream about how to best help couples.  For 25+ years he has specialized in helping people save and repair their marriage relationships.  Back from the brink.  Succeeding.  Thriving.  This is his passion.  It’s what he enjoys most.  It’s his area of expertise.  Thousands of couples have benefited from his counsel and coaching.

Bit by bit…

But his dream as I heard it went beyond just couples counseling. More and more, bit by bit, it became a broader vision for the community and for couples in every stage of their relationship. “People can change the trajectory of their entire marriage if they can learn how to care for and nurture their relationship.  We need to help people understand that positive, strengths-based care and supportiveness helps a marriage soar much more than negativity drags it down.  This is not just about reducing our divorce rate. We also need to increase our percentage of ‘well-married’ and thriving relationships.”

Well Marriage Center was created to help your relationship succeed. We’re a full service center for your relationship. While we specialize in couples/marriage counseling, our vision is to encourage couples along the entire spectrum of relational health to care for and nurture their marriage relationship.