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.
I get calls about lying and infidelity. Of course infidelity is about lying. Couples need help to work through this one. Too often, the unfaithful partner wants to blame the spouse for the infidelity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Therapists make this error too. No one can make someone else cheat. Therapy in the right hands gives people the tools to work through this.
The same problem(s) keep coming up with no resolve.
The idea of help for the marriage is to learn new tools to remediate the problems identified here.
I love this subject! The short answer is, “it depends on who is doing it”—- on both sides!
In my office, I can only think of one couple who is doing poorly. This is because neither takes the advice that is so costly to them in terms of time and money!
Sometimes people have hidden agendas when they come for help. It isn’t really help that they want.
In this case, the wife never really wanted to be married. She allowed herself to be talked in to it. She is afraid to be disappointed by her husband so she pushes him away no matter what he does. She criticizes him regularly. He is angry and resists what she wants even if it is legitimate. Unfortunately, there is a young child. I think the wife’s fear of disappointment is greater than any desire she might have to live a committed life with her husband
I am teaching people HOW to be together. I give them concrete tools for working things out. I see couples, families, and individuals from a relationship perspective and I do about 20 hours weekly. This is considered a “full” practice. EVERYONE in my office is doing excitingly and markedly better! And it IS exciting to be a part of the changes!
Everyone is better because they are good students of behavior and change. They are better because they desire to be. They don’t have hidden agendas. They want to know what works so they can do it. I love working with these people!
I don’t know—- it depends on the couple. It depends on the severity of the problem—how long has it been going on and how willing is everyone to change?
Successful marital work means everyone must change. Sometimes people come to change the OTHER one. However, we can only change ourselves. Changing ourselves changes everything around us.
To be successful with any kind of help, people need trust. The more trust they have, the more apt they are to take advice as long as the advice is given in a way that makes sense to them. Hence, success is also determined by WHO people elect to see. The therapist needs to be believable and able to explain HOW to go about change in ways that people can understand. It all has to make sense.
Good patterns are not created for clients, in my experience unless the therapist really gets involved with them. I often call my clients between sessions. I do this especially in the beginning when I am trying to help people get on the right path for change. Working alongside people is necessary for the success of the process as I see it.