How Do People Know If They Need Marriage Counseling?
Most importantly, when there are problems that you can’t resolve.
One member of a couple often calls me to say, “we fight all the time”. That is a sure signs that the couple is trying to win at something rather than negotiating an outcome. They don’t seem to know how to have the conversation rather than have the fight. They need help to learn new strategies.
People call me all the time to ask what to do about their partner— “how can I make Him or Her change? Of course, no one can make someone else change. We can only change ourselves. However, if we change something about ourselves it changes everything. To effect change in a partner, we must change ourselves!
Traditional psychology has believed since time began that problems exist within individuals. This DSM descriptions of mental problems is built on this theory.
However, with the rise of the « Systems » movement which began in the early 50’s., problems are more popularly seen as existing BETWEEN people or in relationships rather than within individuals.
Whether therapy works or not is like posing the question, does medicine work? I would see that as “ what medicine are you picking?” And “for what purpose?”
I explain to people who call me, in answer to an opening question, how much do you charge,” that the question signals that these callers believe that all therapy is alike. Nothing could be more false.
You know that you need marriage counseling when the fighting continues with no resolution. When one or both partners criticize, or one or both parties withdraw into silence, thus stopping the conversation. Continue reading
The length of time people spend in therapy has to do with how well they learn new habits.
People call me regularly to ask how long it takes. The question is, “what are you trying to make happen?” And “how good a student are you?” Continue reading
Women ask me all the time,”why does my husband get so defensive when I get mad at him?”
To begin with, I don’t find anger to be a very useful emotion to be used with anyone. Possibly at times with strangers to get their attention but anger is scary for people and when you sound angry the real message gets lost.
Recently a woman contacted me about her husband’s infidelity. They had been doing prior work with a female therapist who encouraged her anger. She told the husband that his wife was understandably angry and he must be patient as she spewed it out.
Frankly, I found this to be very bad advice. Apparently, the couple did as well and fortunately left this experience. I have found over the years that people usually know when an experience is working badly and they leave it. Continue reading