Courageous Couples

Marriage and Couples Counseling FAQ

My partner and I can’t talk without fighting. What can we do about that?

Oddly, what couples say to each other is not the problem. The problem is what you think about each other. If I tell myself my partner is a selfish jerk, that is what my partner is going to hear. I call these negative thoughts “weapons.” No matter how nicely I talk, my partner will hear my weapons. Better communication starts with lowering the weapons.

Next time you find yourself having negative thoughts about your partner’s behavior, ask yourself “Is there any other explanation for this behavior? What don’t I know about what my partner is experiencing right now.”

We seem to have just grown apart. Can anything be done about that?

“Grown apart” is a vague concept. How well do you really know your partner? My observation is that the longer people are together, the less they really know about each other. So, ask yourself this question: Am I willing to get to know my partner again?

We used to have so much fun together. Can we ever be like that again?

I think over time, couples start taking each other for granted. They stop being curious about each other. Try writing down ten things you would like to know about each other. Go out to dinner, have a glass of wine and ask each other questions. No debating, just ask and listen. Ask followup questions. Remember? It’s what you did when you first dated. It was fun and exciting. 

How Long Does Couples Counseling Take?

I can’t give you a time guarantee. Turning a badly damaged relationship around requires a several month commitment, sometimes a year or more. Our goal is to see some real progress in about three months. 

My Partner is willing to participate but not enthusiastic. Is that a problem?

No, I expect that one partner is more discouraged than the other partner. When your partner starts to experience some success, they may be more enthusiastic.

My Partner is not willing to come at this time. Will it help if I come alone?

Definitely. You can learn new ways to react to your partner; better ways to handle conflict and differences. Perhaps when he or she sees some changes in you, your partner will be curious enough to come.

Is there something I can read?

I recommend: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman