Did you know…
According to research the average couple waits six years before seeking help for marital problems.1 Perhaps your relationship is declining in satisfaction or you’ve had recent or chronic unresolved conflict. You may be avoiding, detaching or simply losing hope for improvement. You want to rebuild the trust, attachment, respect and are looking for tools to increase healthy communication.
Some of the signs your relationship can benefit from couples’ counseling includes:
- Escalating conflict and nasty communication habits.
- Emotional distance and loneliness.
- Falling out of love, i.e. “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
- Trust and commitment issues,
- Attachment insecurities, low self-worth and fears of abandonment. This can include extreme dependence, which leads to intrusive behaviors. But it can also include extreme independence which can make a partner feel like they’re not a priority.
- Feeling unsupported and emotionally dismissed or difficulty with opening up
- Intimacy and desire issues
- Difficulties with in-laws, friendships, work, or life stressors including health issues, finances, parenting differences,
- Abuse, affairs, and addictions (alcohol, drugs, porn, etc.)3
- Things feeling unfair in the division of household chores or decision making
- Untreated anxiety and depression issues that complicate things in the relationship.
- Difficult childhood upbringings that have emotionally wounded partners and make it difficult to trust your partner or stay engaged when conflict arises.4
Maribel is trained in the three levels of the Gottman Method, she is also a Gottman Leader in the Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work. Let’s review your relationship strengths and challenges by taking a “Gottman Assessment” to create an effective treatment plan. You will then engage in customized couples’ activities in our sessions to gain the tools in the areas which need improvement; in this way, treatment is more focused and efficient. If you’re not ready for weekly sessions, please consider The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Seminar to get an overview of concepts. It’s a class not therapy, it’s delivered in an educational format with no pressure to share personal situations.
Fortunately, empirically based couples therapy has demonstrated that couples therapy can create a positive change for 70% of couples. And these changes last.2
1 Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Hillsdale, NK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
2 Lebow, J. L., Chambers, A. L., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). Research on the treatment of couple distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 145-168
3 If there is abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, drugs, alcohol) in the relationship clients will need to be assessed individually to see if couples’ counseling is the best option.
4 Benson Kyle (2020) Is it Time to Go to Couples Counseling? [Article] https://www.gottman.com/blog/is-it-time-to-go-to-couples-counseling/
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Frequently Asked Questions
The seminar can give you a great overview of the “Principles” which couples learn during sessions. The difference lies on the context, the seminar is a psychoeducation class and not therapy.
Talk to your spouse, if you are not ready for weekly sessions, attending the seminar is a no pressure choice because you won’t be sharing private information, simply learning and practicing some skills. Once you learn the concepts you may feel more confident in attending counseling or using the tools from the class.
There are many factors to consider when deciding if counseling worked. Factors include, how long has the dissatisfaction lasted, has there been betrayal issues, is one of the spouses simply done and this is the last box to check off before a divorce, are there control or abuse issues, the receptiveness of one spouse to participate or take influence from their partner, gridlock issues which spouses are unwilling to compromise on and the list can go on. No therapist can ethically guarantee results, but I can assure you the skills and knowledge I have learned from the Gottman research will be applied to your presenting concerns in a comprehensive treatment plan. The rest is up to you and your commitment to doing the hard work to improve the underlying causes of your dissatisfaction with the tools you will learn.
Therapy is not easy as many feelings and dynamics will be explored. We will team up to focus on renewing the friendship and trust to improve the areas which bring you to session in a supportive, validating environment.
Come anyway! You can benefit from identifying relationship dynamics, and learning communication skills, which may help you verbalize your feelings better. I do let clients know however that if your spouse chooses to join counseling later, I will refer out the marriage therapy to another therapist. You may keep me for individual work.
Due to confidentiality, therapeutic relationship and treatment planning standards, it is best to start together to give therapy the optimal chance at working. I don’t deviate from this standard, so please let your spouse know before starting counseling with me.
I generally follow this order when working with couples, but can modify based on their needs:
- Week 1: Each person does an individual session alone with me (50-55 minutes)
- Week 2: Couple comes to their first joint session and we do “Oral History Interview” (90-120 minutes recommended, can be scheduled in two parts if needed).
- After their first session together, couple completes a Gottman Assessment-Questionnaire, they receive a link via email, they sign up and pay the Gottman Institute directly. I receive the results, to prepare the treatment plan. I don’t profit from their fee. Your session fee covers treatment plan development.
- Week 3: We review the treatment plan and choose what area to work on first. I encourage weekly sessions until couple is using the tools with more proficiency and then we can space out the sessions. (90-120 minutes a week recommended; we can schedule accordingly)
- If one of the spouses has other issues to work on individually such as depression, anxiety, difficulty regulating frustration or anger, among others we can add individual session in addition to couple’s sessions or that spouse may choose another therapist for this need.
Depending on the type and degree of the behaviors we can assess this concern individually, please contact me to review if counseling would be a good choice in this situation.
It is not easy to overcome betrayal such as affairs, financial, family loyalties and such, but it is possible to rebuild the relationship foundation and learn to trust each other again. The betrayal causes harm to the spouse who was not unfaithful and thus the work is arduous on both parties to sustain the effort at repairing and accepting the relationship changed. We suggest “The Science of Trust” by Dr. John Gottman and “NOT “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass.
Therapy is an investment on yourself, but the cost can add up. Using the Gottman Assessment we can identify the areas which need improvement and focus the treatment to make it more efficient.
Therapy is less expensive emotionally and financially than a divorce.