Are you dissatisfied in your relationship?
Do you wish your relationship could be the way it used to be?
Has there been emotional or physical infidelity?
Is it hard to communicate without fighting or have you stopped communicating about anything important?
Have the problems in your marriage gotten to the point that you feel more relaxed when your spouse is out of town?
Does it seem like you’re just going through the motions with one another?
Are you struggling with your sex life or having conflicts about sex?
Have the demands of parenthood and career made it difficult to put time and energy into your relationship?
Are one or both of you struggling with a mental health or substance abuse issue?
We all need help with our relationships sometimes.
Feeling unhappy in a relationship is awful. Life can feel hopeless when your relationship isn’t firing on all cylinders. And, though I don’t think all relationships are salvageable, I’ve seen that couples can work past most of what’s getting in the way of being happy. After 23 years of marriage and couples counseling, I know that if two people are willing to try, we can get past most relationship problems.
It’s normal for couples to need help sometimes. Very few of us are experts at being in relationships, and most of us need outside help at some point in our marriages. Even for couples who are willing to work on things, they usually don’t know how to do the work. Though not all relationships can be saved, before we end relationships, we should try everything - we should leave everything out on the field, so to speak. We should try couples therapy. The divorce rate in the U.S. is somewhere between 40% and 50%, so clearly not all relationships are going to make it, but it’s always seemed like a real shame to me for a relationship to end when it actually could have been salvaged, and by salvaged I mean made much, much better. Part of why I like being a relationship therapist is that I’ve seen time and time again that two people willing to dig deep and work can build a better, happier relationship than they’ve ever had, regardless of how bad the problems were when they started therapy.
It's easy to feel stuck in an unhappy marriage
The fear of divorce can keep people stuck in an unhappy, dissatisfying marriage. Fear of how one’s financial life will change, fear of how divorce will affect the kids, fear of never finding another partner, and many other fears sometimes prevent people from taking action. I always encourage my clients to do something if they aren’t satisfied with their relationship. Often that simply means telling your spouse you aren’t happy in the relationship and insisting that you see a therapist. Relationship problems almost never improve without some effort, but this is an area where most of us lack the skills to make the effort.
I don’t work with all couples in the same way because every couple is unique. Some couples need to learn communication skills to reduce misunderstandings, to listen better, or to more assertively speak their minds. For some couples, it’s about expressing the real feelings that are often underneath the anger and resentment. For others, couples therapy focuses on understanding how each person has been impacted by the families they grew up in. Sometimes, an addiction in one or both partners is what needs to be addressed. Sometimes, just being in the therapy room, where there’s a sense of emotional safety that might not be present at home, results in couples communicating in ways they never have before.
You may have some questions about Marriage and Couples Counseling
What if my spouse / partner isn’t willing to come to couples therapy?
Sometimes marriage and couples counseling starts with only one person. It’s fairly common that initially only one partner is willing to come. I hate to make gender-based generalizations, but more often than not it’s the guy who is reluctant to come. In these cases, the initial part of therapy focuses on me helping you motivate the other person to participate in therapy. This almost always succeeds in getting the other person to come.
What if my spouse is the real problem in the marriage?
Usually, it isn't this simple, but if I think the problems in your marriage are mainly due to your partner having individual issues, I will tell you this. Usually, we start with a very through assessment, after which I'll give you my honest opinion about who needs help and what kind of help they need.
What if marriage counseling makes things worse?
I’ve worked with hundreds of couples and have never seen this happen. What is certain to happen if you don’t get help is that your relationship problems will only get worse. Sadly, couples eventually reach a point of no return, a point where it’s too late to work things out.
But doesn’t therapy take time and money?
Yes, but it’s infinitely cheaper and less inconvenient and time consuming than divorce. The average cost of a divorce in Austin is somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000, and the process takes over a year. Working on your relationship with the help of a therapist is cheaper and quicker.
You can make your relationship better
The first step in improving your relationship is reaching out to a therapist. I always invite one or both members of a couple to give me a call. I’m happy to take the time to talk to one or both of you, together or separately, to see if I’m the right marriage and couples counseling fit for you and to answer whatever questions you have. I can be reached at 512-590-9868 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to call or email 24x7. I try to answer my phone whenever possible but will always return an email or message within a few hours.