COUNSELING CAN REVIVE YOUR DYING MARRIAGE.

love hearts abstract

Ever feel like the love is gone? 

  • Your partner isn’t the person you fell in love with. 
  • The communication gap between you widens every day.
  • Your partner won’t talk about it.
  • You’ve been unhappy for so long it feels like it’s too late. 
  • Your relationship feels dead.

Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely you still care enough about your partner and your relationship to want to help it — if you only knew how.  

Most marriages should be given a chance to succeed.

Marriage counseling can help you restore the trust and intimacy your relationship once enjoyed so that you’ll both have a secure place to learn techniques and tools that can actually make a difference.  

  • Resolve past hurts and painful memories
  • Put an end to endless arguments
  • Overcome differences in parenting styles
  • Improve your intimacy and sex life
  • Heal from an affair
  • Grow closer together
  • Take an active, involved and interested role in the life you’ve created together

Behavioral research is often focused on the clinical effectiveness of couples therapy but the subject of couples therapy is in the out-loud American mainstream, too.  Attention runs the gamut from on-line and print articles, to films like Couples Retreat, to playing supportive roles in television dramas like The Sopranos.  

Most marriage counselors would agree that a couple’s motivation to make their relationship work is the single most important factor in determining the success of couples counseling.  Beware the seduction of obtaining a promise from your partner to “work on the relationship” if one of their feet is out the door.  Breaking up is hard to do, there’s enough hurt to go around, so sometimes one partner “buys time” by agreeing to couples counseling.  Therapy also seems to be less successful for couples who wait too long before seeking help.  Unfortunately, the average number of years a distressed couple waits before seeking help is 6 years.

If you and your partner are serious about creating the best relationship possible, marriage counseling is an excellent way to explore your relationship and help each of you uncover and overcome destructive relational patterns.  Hopefully, before 6 years go by. 

Kathe Skinner has been a Marriage & Family Therapist for 20 years.  She specializes in couples work, especially with relationships where invisible disability is part of the mix.  She and her husband David have been married for 29 years and together provide a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year.  They live with their 2 hooligan cats in Colorado Springs.

Which AGE is a Romance Killer? You May Be Surprised.

beached rowboatNo matter what your age, assumptions, generalizations, and expectations (AGE) will kill romance, and even the relationship, just about every time.

Human beings, male or female, are complex outcomes of how they’re hardwired, the meaning they make of themselves and their place in the world, and the world in which they grow up. I’m not a fan of statistics but I do know enough to say the combinations are endless — finite, but endless.

In other words, no two people are exactly alike.

Maybe because of our need to manage those unmanageable numbers we make generalizations about “what is a man” and “what is a woman”.  As a therapist I sometimes fall victim to simplification myself rather than taking the elements of a couple as two different people and not the generalized version of their gender descriptions, e.g. men are stoic and women are emotional.

I’m not the only perpetrator.  Societies generalize all the time, with changes usually coming over time, and in sometimes cataclysmic ways.  In American society think women getting the vote, same-sex marriage, or race relations.

Some generalizations take their time dying.  For example, every newly married couple — and some long-term ones — have expectations based on generalizations.  Same with expectations each gender has about the other.  Our society generalizes about roles, sex, happiness, conjointness, privacy, emotionality, rationality, areas of competence, and so on.

Otherwise life is way too complex.

Take sensitive men, for example, with their thoughts, feelings and behaviors contrary to the alpha model.  Or women whose thoughts, feelings, and behaviors run to competitiveness and control.  It’s not just men who have to wear a mask, women do, too.  A guy might get away with wearing a pink shirt if he’s otherwise kick-ass.  A woman CEO has to wear more than perfume in order to be relabelled from pushy, bossy, or bitchy.

Expectation-based thinking is insidious in most of us, hetero- or homosexuals alike.  That’s trouble.

Human interaction is expectation-based, often uneducatedly expectation-based.  We generally modify expectations about the physical world based on trial and error — that’s called learning. But when it comes to couples, for instance, generalization-based assumptions are wedged tightly into our psyches and seldom disappear for good.

In other words, a failing grade is earned in Relationship 101.

Relationships don’t have to die, or even fail.  Examining automatic thinking is work. There’s another way; it’s harder, but it works. Paying attention to gray matter chatter is the first step in breaking an AGEing brain away from automatic thinking.  Automatic thinking is a passive process; no thought goes into it at all.

The more active (read “aware”) the process of thinking, the fewer assumptions, generalizations, and expectations we hold about our partner and our partner’s role in the relationship.  It’s active thinking that can give partners insight into each other — the real other, not the generalized versions.

If a relationship stands a chance, AGE has to be put aside.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples.  She and her husband, David, teach couples how to avoid the destructiveness of AGEs.  They offer a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year; the next one begins September 25th.  Check it out!

Copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC