Marriage & Relationship Counseling

Marriage & Relationship Counseling

A relationship does improve and actually blossom with consistent effort, as well as love and respect from both partners when they care enough about each other and really want things to work out.

Most frequently, I am sought after for marriage advice by people with questions such as “Can my relationship be rescued or how can we save our marriage and not hurt our children?” or “Can you help us figure out whether we should stay together or part ways, without going through an ugly and costly divorce?” Although questions about whether a couple should stay together or part ways are almost always complicated, my response has always been something similar to; “Marriage counseling is hard work, and no one can truly guarantee the outcome. However, it is wise to seek expert help in improving your marriage by someone who specializes in helping couples who want to work at their relationship and make it last.”

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By the way, in case you’re on the fence about couples’ therapy, here’s food for thought: the average total cost of a divorce in California according to a quick search on Google ranges between $22,300 and $26,200, mostly spent on attorney fees. Those attorney fees usually range between $150 and $350 per hour, and sometimes can even go over $1000/hour in some cases. As you can imagine, the total cost of divorce can easily be much, much higher depending on how unreasonable the couple is willing to be with each other, how high their net worth is and how many assets are they willing to fight over and dig their heals in about; so couples therapy is a definitely far cheaper and better option if you still want to stay together. Miracles can happen if you are willing to work for them.

Keep in mind that it’s vital to choose a psychologist who has extensive experience providing therapy to couples and specializes in them, and who is a good fit for both members of the couple. If both of you feel uncomfortable with the therapist you have chosen, it is important to acknowledge that as it can negatively impact the outcome of the therapeutic process as well as your progress towards a better relationship, impede the healing of old hurts, and even cause one of you to give up or drop out too soon.

In reality, the success of marriage counseling is greatly dependent on the level of commitment the two of you share in staying together as a couple and to what lengths and compromises you are willing to go to in order to save your relationship and stay in your marriage whether you have children together or not. Certain couples believe that marriage counseling is synonymous with divorce counseling, that’s because they waited too long to get help, and have reached their breaking point. A good example is when either one or both partners have decided to split the relationship, and he/she is trying to make his/her intentions known to their partner via counseling. In some instances, the challenges and wounds of a marriage can be too deep and prolonged to be rectified by counseling or the partners are too stubborn and unwilling to budge for their relationship, foregoing their happiness, which is tragic. While for others, it can be a case of sharing their worries with the counselor inaccurately, or from a very slanted or biased perspective, which doesn’t help anyone.

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Timing is a crucial factor which determines the success of marriage counseling to a great degree. However, some couples do wait unnecessarily too long before reaching out for help. Research findings according to Dr. John Gottman – a relationship and marriage expert – disclosed that couples wait for at least six years unhappy before asking for help. Looking at this unfortunate statistic, it implies that couples do spend six years developing anger and unhealthy resentments towards each other before they begin learning more practical and effective means of resolving their differences and putting them to rest so they can actually enjoy one another and feel good in the relationship. For example, Jessica and Tyler seated on a sofa discuss their prolonged disagreement regarding their financial management and the possibility of Jessica returning to college to secure a degree in education for a future career switch. Jessica says “We keep having the same issues repeatedly without a solution.” She added that “For the past ten years, I have been working at an insurance company which I truly hate, yet Tyler has refused to allow me to enter another career, which would make me happy.”

Because being part of a long-term, committed relationship, I know what it feels like to get your relationship back on track and move past your obstacles and differences. However, it is highly unlikely to have a long-term relationship or marriage without a few bumps in the road. For this reason, marriage vows remind us that it’s actually “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” we can’t always expect sunshine. Even constant sun creates a desert. Tough times happen, healthy relationships experience them too, yet survive. We certainly don’t want to get stuck there. That’s where expert help becomes invaluable.

Several couples I work with as a marriage counselor or psychologist, are usually in their first few years of marriage, or in a committed relationship and often with small children usually below five years of age. Clients at this stage of marriage and life are sometimes facing their first serious difficulties in their relationship and if not handled properly, can lead to the marriage ending. According to a survey of 2,262 adults in heterosexual partnerships (which appeared in the Washington Post) over the course of five years, Rosenfeld found that women initiate divorces 69 percent of the time.

Here are some additional statistics about divorce in the US, so do me a favor and don’t become a statistic; get competent help instead and save your relationship/marriage if you can. Do what it takes while you still have a choice and don’t throw in the towel too soon because that is a fairly expensive as well as an invariably painful choice:

  • Every 13 Seconds, someone, somewhere, files for divorce
  • 4% of people in the military file for divorce each year
  • 50% of children in the US will see their parents’ divorce in their lifetime
  • 43% of children in the US are living without their father involved in their lives
  • 41% of first marriages end in divorce
  • 60% of second marriages end in divorce
  • 73% of third marriages end in divorce
  • The average first marriage lasts 8 years

You’re more likely to get divorced if:

  • Your parents went through a divorce
  • You fight about money with your spouse
  • You didn’t graduate high school
  • You marry before age 25
  • You smoke cigarettes, but your spouse doesn’t
  • You have a friend going through a divorce

You’re less likely to get divorced if:

  • You’re very religious
  • You have a college degree
  • You live in a blue state (Great news for those of us living in California!)
  • You had happily married parents
  • You marry after age 25
  • You watch romantic movies with your spouse

(Statistics from the CDC, Department of Health and Pew Research Center)

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Other couples who also opt for marriage counseling have been together for many years. Their kids are getting ready for college, or the children have already left the family home and are living independently, or the parents are nearing or already retired, this creates new sets of challenges for couples, or they may be struggling with issues that have been around for years and remain unresolved.

Many seek help even though they enjoy a strong connection in their marriage as they share a committed relationship and enjoy a solid basis through marriage counseling because of their recent challenges affecting their work-life stability, family relations, loss of parent or sickness, difficult transitions, change in career, use of a substance, performing and sharing parenting responsibilities – all these challenges can certainly stress their relationship in a significant way.

In the end, we are social animals and most of us crave a loving and secure bond. When things go awry in our relationship, we feel quite stressed and ultimately fear abandonment, which at that point may even seem permanent or irrevocable.

Couples can get stuck in negative cycles – it happens – and can very easily affect their communication negatively as well as their mood and outlook. The focus of marriage therapy is centered on recognizing the feelings, actions, and thoughts responsible for the couple’s unwanted cycles and negative patterns.

In this way, we become better at listening and understanding one another, then change and enhance the link between each other, and construct a healthy discussion and solutions. Hope and ultimately a secure relationship can be attained with such positive dynamics and efficient communication within couples.

We are not ever handed a manual on how to attract and maintain, a long and happy marriage – marriage counseling addresses that rather effectively, especially when you use it and consistently follow through on the advice you receive.

So how can relationship therapy help us?

While serving as your relationship, pre-marital or marriage counselor, couples or as a personal therapist, I can assist in developing your strength and also help resolve your unhealthy behavior and negative communication patterns, most especially in areas such as:

Nitpicking, nagging, blaming, sabotaging, resentment over unmet needs, communication impasses stemming from frequent conflict over the very same issues, which never get resolved and continue to steadily deteriorate your relationship and quality of life.

Drifting slowly apart, feeling alone and disconnected, and becoming glorified roommates… Does that sound familiar? If it does, it’s time to take serious and deliberate action, to save your relationship and avoid a great deal of emotional pain.

Waning trust, eroding commitment, lack of a feeling of safety in the relationship and/or palpable intimacy problems.

Extended family drama, work-life imbalance, financial hardship, personality differences, overwhelming stressors, parental challenges, neglected chores or not sharing in the responsibilities of the household and especially being taken for granted, etc.

Despite all these, there is a way out if both of you are willing to do the work to restore the peace, trust, love, as well as genuine mutual respect and appreciation between you.

With effective and impartial marriage counseling or couples’ therapy, you can learn the tools and how to speak to one another so you can be heard and finally have your differences be resolved by being open, communicative and including being willing to budge on certain issues, sorry you can’t win them all… Right? What brought you together in the first place can be restored if you are willing to be fair, kind, respectful and put in the effort because you love your partner as well as yourself.

There’s no magic fairy dust, you both have to get into it, elbows deep and each do your part. I can teach you ways of enhancing communication and connection in your relationship through counseling and ultimately get your relationship off of life support and hopefully back on track. While it is not an easy or quick fix process, I can get you the realistic and useful tools of changing your current faulty relationship to a caring and healthy one if you can remain committed to it and each other.

When we truly value something and want to hold on to it, we invest time, money and effort in order to have the honor and privilege of keeping it. Of course a healthy, strong and loving relationship is close to the top of those priorities for most people; some of us just lose our way sometimes, yet can be put back on the right track if we are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

How long you stay in couples counseling or marriage therapy is really dependent on your situation and the issues that have to work on, as well as how open and willing you are to make that happen. However, typically, I highly recommended that you initially come once a week at the beginning or eventually as things improve and stabilize, every other week, leading to occasional check-ins to sustain your gains and avoid any relapses. Some couples that have seen and experienced the true power of relationship therapy, choose to come every month because they value and appreciate having and maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

I have some flexibility in accommodating your need and schedule in my approach; hence, we can meet for extended counseling sessions. Some couples choose to have double sessions in order to come in a less frequently as well as have to the time and the freedom to get deeper into what they came to discuss. I can provide ninety-minute or longer sessions if needed. Nevertheless, we always discuss and plan your schedule with an arrangement that suits both of your needs.

If you are both truly committed to the idea of a regaining a strong, healthy and loving relationship, regardless of your challenges, your past, or parents, you can absolutely have a better relationship, it just won’t happen overnight.

Effective marriage counseling or couples’ therapy along with your consistent effort and regular attendance will help you break your unhealthy patterns and set you back on the road to a strong and fulfilling relationship.

It is essential for couples to recognize conflict as an indispensable aspect of a loyal and loving relationship. Moreover, there is no relationship without its sweet and sour times, and conflict just naturally comes with the package. The avoidance of conflict, however, does backfire in a relationship according to Michele Weiner Davis – the author of The Divorce Remedy. She suggests that holding grudges will not allow your partner to change their attitude. Whereas, Weiner clarified that one of the hidden truths of a healthy marriage or romantic relationship is to learn how to pick your battles carefully and separate trivial issues from critical ones.

In Gottman’s book titled: The Relationship Cure, he suggests that it’s not that smart couples don’t argue, but they make an effort to remain connected and engaged with one another while they argue. Instead of staying defensive and spiteful, they instead will rather quell their disagreements with a show of affection, deep concern, and shared respect.

Seven tips for dealing more effectively with differences between partners:

Establish a warm and welcoming environment and spend quality time together every day to engage in conversation regarding sharing your wants and needs with each other.

Don’t give up your goals and things which makes you happy such as hobbies – it can cause resentment.

Have each other’s back and accept the fact that you may not have an interest in common. Hence, have respect for your partner’s wants and needs such as space if he/she chooses to go for a vacation alone, for instance.

Be skillful in resolving your conflicts. Don’t try to avoid arguments, which can significantly jeopardize your relationship. Those who try to stay away from quarrels have a better chance of ending up with an unexciting relationship, which ultimately can lead to divorce.

Create an open dialogue. Truly listen to your partner’s wishes and make a sincere and concerted effort for clarification on complex matters. Stay away from threats or words you will probably regret later.

Prevent the blame-game at all costs and be responsible for your contribution to the problem. Also, accept the fact that every human has flaws. Any time you are angry at your partner, assess what you feel internally, consider your own possible contribution to the problem, and also make sure to pause and ponder carefully before you only blame them for it.

Be honest and straightforward about how long you can wait for change to happen in your partner or relationship. It can take several sessions for the root of the problem to reveal itself and for the change process to begin to take place.

Couples can gain a great deal by simply reminding each other about the benefit of adding positive interactions in their relationship – in a five-to-one proportion according to Dr. John Gottman. In summary, for each negative discussion you have with your spouse, make sure to add five positive ones. Love should not be taken lightly and must incorporate the belief that differences can instigate passion and interest. Ultimately, every individual is responsible for their own happiness and joy.

Also, the phrase “turning towards one another” was used by Gottman to explain the way couples can master how to respond to each other’s attention needs positively, rather than falling on deaf ears – which does means neglecting a partner’s need or acting busy. He further explained that turning toward each other is a secret weapon against contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling and criticism, which are all factors that can definitely ruin any relationship.

How can marriage counseling assist couples?

  • Recognition of unhealthy relationship patterns at an early stage will help towards realistic change.
  • Couples in therapy can start to see their challenges from new perspectives and get educated on new ways to resolve their disagreements, and following the guidance and support of their therapist.
  • Partners can start to create trust and enhance communication which can erase their former flawed means of communication.
  • Couple’s counselor can provide a safe, neutral ground which helps couples in securing an agreement and resolve their tough issues.
  • Couples can decide to restructure their relationship and create a renewed vow, or clarify the reasons and motives of why they need to go their separate ways.

 

On a final note, friendship is the link that ties a marriage together; couples who have an intimate understanding of each other and are intimately aware of one another’s wants, dislikes, dreams, aspirations and the other individual’s quirks, are those who will enjoy a sustainable relationship.

Don’t spend time worrying about your marriage of relationship on your own. Start feeling good about it once again. While marriage counseling or couple’s therapy can be stressful in the meantime, the gains are invaluable and can last a lifetime.

Your Next Steps:

You can visit my pages for my Bio, address, and fees and Insurance details. If you feel that you need additional help in Beverly Hills or Laguna Beach, please call me at (310) 500 8442 or send me an mail at DrGilbert@DrGilbert90210.com. Also, if you are ready to move forward, you can click on “Let’s Get Started” button to fill out your info and book a session or call for a free ten minutes phone consultation in Los Angeles to get answers to questions regarding counseling., couple’s therapy or personal coaching about the relationship and to know if we are a good fit. If your partner is reluctant to come at this time, don’t worry, give us a call regardless to make an appointment to find out how you can benefit from marriage counseling and relationship therapy in Beverly Hills or Laguna Beach.

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