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.”


You CAN Save Your Marriage

My granddaughter, age 3, encountered a see-saw (teeter-totter) for the first time last weekend. She literally giggled out loud with how easily she could move up and down with her 2 year old brother (who was being carefully supported by their mother) on the other end. It was all fun and games…until grandpa sat down on the other end.

Of course I balanced my weight at first so we could each go up and down. But after a little bit, this grandpa got tired and needed a quick break. I sat. I was heavy. Seeing my granddaughter confused, stuck high on the other end of this tiny see-saw, made me think of the confused look many couples that see me often have:

“Wait, what happened?”  “How did we get stuck?”
More importantly, “Can and how do we get down (unstuck)?”

Positive Override

Marriages begin with what renowned and leading marriage/couple psychologist Dr. John Gottman describes as a high, positive “set” point. It’s almost like the default position of the relationship. No matter what, most things are seen and experienced through this default lens. When the positive “set” point is high, couples are less likely to interpret things critically, or as a personal attack, or believe their relationship can ever be derailed. It takes far more negativity to harm your relationship than if your set point were lower.

Negative Override – when marriages gets heavy

But over time, anger, irritations, and resentment can build to the point that it’s like being a 3 year old on a See Saw with a tired grandfather. It can build for 2 years, or 5 years, or even 20 years, but if that balance tilts, and you slip from positive override into negative override, then everything begins to be interpreted more and more negatively. Marriage gets heavy.  Words said in a neutral tone get interpreted negatively. You interpret your spouse and your relationship more and more negatively. You think you’ve married the wrong person – or a person who is completely different than who you initially married. You get stuck. It’s as if there is a boulder on the other end of the see-saw. It’s no fun and in fact toxic.  And then you want to get off the See Saw and play with another toy.

Bottom line: Can I Save My Marriage?

I’ve been doing couples counseling for over 25 years now and what I can tell you is this: there is hope and there is good news for your relationship!   I’ve helped thousands of couples re-learn how to live and think in a way that notices what is strong and desirable about their partner and marriage, to tilt the balance of their relationship back into their favor. Couples who have completely lost hope have been amazed at this approach. I’ll be honest: it’s not as easy or simple as it might sound.  You’ll want an experienced guide or coach helping you figure out the steps and avenues to make it happen in your particular situation with your unique dynamic. But I’ve seen so many couples who thought they were done find renewed love, commitment, and a better relationship with each other. I believe it’s possible for you too!

Do yourself a favor: find a counselor or coach who works from a strengths-based, positive approach. Find a counselor or coach who is going to get in there with you and be active with you, someone who can help you work through some of the causes and pressure points of negativity in a way that relieves and revives your marriage instead of harming it, someone who is going to work with you to discern the steps and activities your specific relationships need to get itself back into positive override!