Valentine’s Day Blues

a heart shape between blue water dropsNot everyone will be celebrating romance this February 14th. A lot of the clients we work with are in relationships where one partner wants out. For the partner who wants to save the marriage, Valentine’s Day can be a lonely and painful event. If that’s you, keep reading because you are on my mind and heart this week.

You probably wish you could just fast forward from February 13th to the 15th. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner but it doesn’t have to be a sad day if you change your focus. Instead of thinking about the relationship you wish you had, make this day a celebration of something else entirely! I’ve been on the lookout for ways other people have celebrated this day and I found some really cool ideas. I’ve listed them for you below…because I love you and I’m awesome that way!

1. Celebrate a loving relationship that isn’t romantic. Sure! Why not? I have a friend who sent me flowers for Valentine’s Day last year. She wanted me to know she loved me and will always be my friend. It made my day.

2. Make it a day of loving yourself. Do something to take care of yourself. Plan a special moment or event to give yourself a treat like a massage or a bath by candlelight. Have a favorite chocolate treat? Forget your diet for one day and indulge. Rent a movie you’ve been wanting to see and pick up a fabulous dinner. Splurge and order a beautiful meal from a nice restaurant to be picked up and enjoyed at home.

3. Spend it with your kids. You love them right? For younger kids, make them Valentines and treat baskets. Older kids love treats too. Take them to a movie or do something they will enjoy.

4. Know someone else who is lonely this year? Have a real party…not a pity party. Watch a good movie (no tear jerkers please), indulge in some good food and put pictures of all your exes on a wall and throw darts. Yes. I really said that! It can be a good way to cleanse your palate so to speak and lighten the mood.

5. Send an anonymous Valentine. Find someone who has experienced a loss this past year. There are lots of lonely and hurting people in this world. Especially elderly people. Or maybe someone you know at work. Send them something and tell them you are thinking of them. Brightening other people’s day always makes you feel better.

What are some of your ideas? I’d love to hear them! Put them in the comment section of this blog.

Then go order some chocolate just for you! Or flowers even, if that’s your thing. Do anything but sit around and feel sorry for yourself because you are awesome and worthy of being loved and adored. Trust me. I know these things.

Much love!
Kim

6 Signs Your Spouse May Be Cheating

Warning SignI heard somewhere that women always know when their husbands are cheating but men are the last to know when their wives are having an affair.  In my practice, I’m not sure I can verify this statement with evidence from clients’ experiences, but it makes sense in that women are usually more intuitive about the health of the relationship.  We are constantly monitoring how well our marriage feels to us and we are guilty of comparing our own relationships with those of our friends.  It keeps us more on our toes.

But there are universal signs in this electronic age that can tell us if our spouse is having some kind of inappropriate interaction, whether it is an emotional or physical affair.  Before we get too involved in this…let me say that I think spying on your spouse is a bad idea.  A VERY bad idea.  It is an invasion of their privacy and it is crossing a boundary. The signs I’m going to list will not require you to be a private detective.  Just observant.  Spying never works.  If you do find something, your spouse will feel betrayed (ironic, but true nonetheless).  The discussions now become centered on your betrayal and the cheating spouse feels even more justified for having the affair.  So avoid spying…but never stop observing.

Signs your spouse may be cheating.

1. Your spouse has become more withdrawn and distant OR just the opposite. If your spouse is often lost in his/her own thoughts, sharing less about the day’s events or engaging less with the family, I would ask questions.  It could be they are more stressed, feeling depressed or anxious but you need to inquire how they are doing.  The opposite can also be an indication.  Spouses who are cheating are often feeling extremely guilty and they will become more attentive and generous.  Also, new relationships often produce adrenaline highs that improve mood.  Your spouse may be much more cheerful and energetic.

2. Increase or decrease in sexual activity.  For the same reasons as I described above.

3. Missing time or money.  Your spouse isn’t where they are supposed to be.  They seem to be having to work late more and more often.  There are charges that cannot be explained or money that is missing from ATM withdrawals.  It’s hard to cheat without hotel and restaurant expenses.

4. Guarding the cell phone.  If your spouse is protective over their phone and this is new behavior, I would wonder why.  New passwords that have been changed or didn’t exist before is also an indication.  This is also true for other accounts like email and Facebook.

5.  Increased texting and/or computer time.  Chat rooms online, emails and other computer programs make it easy to hook up in secrecy.  If your spouse is always on the computer, phone or iPad, it may be time to ask questions.

6. Your spouse gets angry when you ask him/her if there is someone else or something going on.  There is a right and wrong way to do this so pay attention.  If you think your spouse may be having an inappropriate relationship with someone, tell him/her what you have noticed that has caused you to worry. Don’t accuse and don’t be snarky or mean.  Just tell your partner you have concerns and explain the behavior you have seen that causes you to worry.  If you ask your spouse without being accusatory or degrading, he/she should be able to respond in kind.  Oftentimes a spouse will blow up in anger or make you feel you are crazy so you will back off.  Your question has now threatened the cheating spouse’s entire world and this can very likely provoke an attack.  If nothing is going on, your partner may be surprised or wondering why you are asking, but once it is clear how worried you have been, the non-cheating spouse will often want to help you feel better.  If your partner calmly says there is nothing to worry about, but you still feel insecure and suspicious, it’s ok to ask for passwords or to see emails and texts so you can be reassured. Make sure your partner knows this is temporary and will not be an ongoing request.  Also let them know you will never go through their information without their consent.

Please remember this list only indicates an affair may be happening.  It is not proof that something is happening.  If you do find out your spouse is having an affair, let us help you with what to do next.  Marriages can recover from infidelity.  We see it happen every day!  No one would blame you if you want to end your marriage after an affair, but if you decide you do want to save it, that’s our expertise!

Call us at 972-441-4432 or email us at support@engagewithlove.com.

All the best!

Kim

 

A Marriage Counselor’s Secret Confession

Shh Blog Pic

I’ve been married 25 years.  I’ve devoted my life and career to helping people save their marriages.  I constantly train in the latest modalities and theories to better equip my clients, which also better equips my own relationship.  I’m pro marriage and I hate divorce.  And yet….

 

Sometimes I fantasize about divorcing my husband.

I love my husband but..MARRIAGE IS HARD.  Just like all couples, both my husband and I have deeply ingrained patterns of behavior that affect how we relate to each other.  On our good days, we are kind, reasonable, patient and willing to overlook each other’s flaws.  On our bad days, well…we look like everyone else who is struggling.  We are rigid, critical, impatient, self-protective, childish and selfish.  Thankfully, because of good training and practice we have many more good days than bad ones.  But bad days still happen and when they do we are miserable until we remember we know tools we aren’t using.

I am not proud of the fact that I sometimes fantasize about leaving my marriage.  That’s my self-protection mechanism.  When I’m hurting, I want to wall off and detach.  When I’m in “that place”, I’m not thinking about connecting with my husband.  I’m thinking about protecting myself emotionally.  It becomes all about me and nothing about us.  It isn’t until I calm down and become rational that I realize how self-defeating my behavior is and I try a different approach.  That’s when the bad day ends for me.

So why am I confessing to you about the struggles in my own marriage?  Because I want you to know that good marriages have bad days.  Or bad weeks.  Or bad months.  Sometimes they even have bad years.  But it doesn’t mean you married the wrong person or it’s time to get a divorce.  It does mean it is time to learn some new skills or to remember to use the ones you have.  I’m in a 25 year marriage that I would classify as “great” a majority of the time, not because I found the perfect person for me but because I use the same tools I teach my clients.  I’m on the same journey as everyone else…in the trenches fighting to keep my marriage from going off its rails.

I always cringe when I hear a client refer to their partner and say, “He/she isn’t my soul mate.” Or “Love shouldn’t be this hard.” I have to fight the urge to say “Come on!  Are you kidding me?  Who told you that?”  Many people actually believe if you are with the “right” person, you will effortlessly waltz through life together.  I’ve worked with clients who are on their 4th and 5th marriages because they are still looking for their soul mate.  But soul mates aren’t found.  They are created through commitment, perseverance, hard work and determination.  

My husband is absolutely my soul mate but we didn’t come packaged that way.  We fought for it.  We forged it out of every disagreement and disillusionment we encountered.  That’s why love really does have to be this hard.  Because no one has a ready made soul mate waiting for him/her in this world.

Everyone has their “bad place”…their way of protecting themselves and they all have one thing in common:  it’s ugly. But the difference for me is that I’m no longer lost in feeling hopeless.  I know people can and do change.  I know I have to be an agent for change in my marriage and I know how to do that.  But I have also learned reasonable expectations for my marriage.  My husband cannot fill my every need and want.  We all marry the partner we think will fill our empty spaces…the person who will heal our hurts and make us whole. We all have to face the moment when we realize our expectations for our marriage do not match our reality.  Some people get so disillusioned when this happens they begin looking for a new better reality or, as in my case, fantasizing about one.

I won’t ever choose to divorce my husband.  I made a commitment 25 years ago that I would stay married to him until one of us dies and I take that commitment seriously.  I won’t divorce him because we have two kids who would be devastated if we divorced and I refuse to give them that legacy.  There is no abuse in my marriage.  There is simply no good reason to leave except that some days it would be easier to go than stay and frankly, that just isn’t good enough to justify all the collateral damage a divorce would bring.

But I also don’t want anyone to stay in a lonely or miserable marriage.  I get it that some of you are more than willing to make changes to improve your marriage but your spouse isn’t.  Maybe your spouse feels hopeless or maybe he/she isn’t as unhappy as you have become.  If that’s the case, you may have to make them really uncomfortable before they are willing to do the work.  We can show you how to do that in a way that is respectful and firm without pushing him/her further away.   If you are willing to try different things to get better results, then you have all the power you need to make huge changes in your relationship!  Even if your spouse doesn’t seem interested.

Just don’t allow yourself to be lured into the fantasy that your marriage is hopeless or just too hard to fix. Divorce is hard work too.  Going from relationship to relationship is hard and exhausting.  And please…don’t settle in the space between working on your marriage and leaving your marriage – that place of resigning yourself to the fact your marriage will never be what you need it to be so you suffer in silence.  While I’m all for having reasonable expectations for your marriage, there is a huge difference in true acceptance of differences and resignation of what won’t change.  Resignation will breed resentment and contempt.  It will kill your marriage slowly underneath your radar.  Resignation masquerades as mature acceptance but it leads to self-righteous indignation and it is a death sentence for marriage.

We know how to help you fight for a better marriage and we have made access to our experts easy for you.  We have coaches on staff who can work with you remotely no matter where you live.  If you are local to the Dallas area, you can come and work with one of our counselors.  We also offer one and two day intensives.  We have clients who travel from all over for these!  There are no more excuses!  If what you have been doing hasn’t been working, let us show you a better way.  Call 972-441-4432 or email us.  Let today be the beginning of your better marriage!

I want to thank my amazing husband who is so willing to have pieces of our intimate lives displayed in public if he thinks it may possibly help someone else.  He truly has a heart for marriage and for helping other people salvage their own.  Hmmm…maybe I should hire him as a coach?  I love you, honey!  Thank you for doing the hard work of intimacy with me.

January is Divorce Season

Couple lying in bed after having a fight. Marriage trouble Baby, It’s Cold Inside!

Did you know more divorces are filed in the month of January than any other month of the year?

That’s because unhappy partners want to wait till after the holidays to break the news. They want to give their kids happy holiday memories before dropping the bomb they know will disrupt everyone’s lives.

The truth is there is never a good time to tell your kids you are getting a divorce.   I wish unhappy spouses would consider another option: divorce your unhappy marriage not your spouse!

If you are in a marriage that feels lonely or miserable, I know what you are thinking. You are telling yourself that change is hopeless. That you have to divorce because you have been trying to get your spouse to understand you aren’t happy and nothing changes! You may believe you and your spouse are simply incompatible because this is just who he/she is and that it isn’t really fair to ask them to change just to make you happy.

But listen to me. People really can change. Marriages really can improve and improve greatly. I’ve seen it happen over and over. I’ve seen wives who are critical and harsh with words learn how to approach their husbands with more respect. I’ve seen husbands who were emotional bullies break down and cry in my office as they learned how their behavior has damaged their wives and they stopped the abuse entirely. I’ve seen couples heal from affairs and sexual addiction. I’ve witnessed life changing transformations so I’m telling you it is possible. Isn’t it worth the effort to get help from experts who actually know what they are doing before you put your kids through the trauma of a divorce?

Let us help you divorce your unhealthy marriage and rebuild a new one that is fulfilling and satisfying. Call us at 972-441-4432. We would love to work with you!

Kim

Can I Forgive My Spouse?

Forgiveness BlogIf you are married, you have to learn how to forgive.  It is impossible to live with another human being for very long without someone getting hurt. But sometimes we are faced with a situation that goes far beyond the normal day-to-day grievances…like an affair.

Forgiveness is tricky business.  You know you should do it and it is good for you.  But sometimes it just seems impossible to achieve, especially if there has been significant pain.  If you find yourself obsessing about the injury (as often happens with an affair), forgiveness can seem unreachable.  Once you have experienced betrayal on such a personal level, it’s very hard to stop thinking about what your spouse did and wondering how he/she could do something like that to you.  A good counselor or coach can help you learn techniques to stop allowing those intrusive thoughts and images into your every waking moment.

But sometimes people withhold forgiveness for other reasons.  I’ve listed some of them below.

  1. You want to punish the person.
  2. You associate forgiveness with reconciliation and you aren’t ready to go there.
  3. You view forgiveness as a weakness and retaliating makes you feel stronger and less like a victim.
  4. You have to highlight your partner’s wrongness as proof of your rightness.

Not forgiving can you make you feel powerful and more in control but that is only an illusion.  Anger just flames inside you and can energize you…which feels so much better than the hurt or shame you feel when someone wrongs you.  But over time, the anger and resentment will cut you off from healthy relationships and from life.

Forgiveness does not mean letting the offender off the hook.  You can still hold them responsible for their actions.  You can still protect yourself from further abuse. Forgiveness allows you to accept what happened to you as an unfortunate (even tragic) event but then allows you rise up and take ownership for your own well-being.  It means you can negotiate new terms for the relationship or even, if necessary, to end the relationship.

For some of us, forgiveness is complicated by spiritual beliefs.  We are taught we must forgive to free ourselves.  But it’s really important to understand that forgiveness does not mean you accept a hollow apology and then act as if nothing ever happened.  If your offender is apologetic, it may be easier to forgive if they are willing to do the work of earning forgiveness.  If your partner has had an affair, part of the act of forgiveness is rebuilding trust.  This includes being transparent and willing to check in and give reassurances.

But you have to come to terms with the offense before you can focus on forgiveness otherwise it is “cheap forgiveness” and that doesn’t work for anyone.  Cheap forgiveness will leak out resentment, bitterness and accusation at every new offense or reminder of the pain.

I saw a client recently whose husband had an affair more than 20 years ago.  This client refused to forgive because the offense was too great.  She also refused to come to terms with the pain over all these years.  By the time she came to me, she was struggling with depression and bitterness.  But she is blossoming after just a few weeks of working together!  She is learning why she refused forgiveness and she is now holding her husband accountable in healthy and appropriate ways.  She has not yet made the decision whether to reconcile or not.  But she has already made great strides in becoming happier and more content with herself.

Don’t allow unforgiveness or cheap forgiveness to weigh down your genuine, authentic self.  We can help you sort through all the complicated layers and find peace again.  Call us at 972-441-4432.  We would love to help!

 

When Your Wife Says You Are Bad in the Bedroom

Bad Sex BlogEver hear the phrase “The best way to stop having sex is to get married”?  Clever, but it’s not too funny if you are living it.

Has your wife told you kindly (or not so kindly) that you are a bad lover?  Or maybe she doesn’t say it but you aren’t having sex very often either. Does your wife avoid intimacy?  It could be that she is tired and stressed.  It could be she is depressed.  It could be she isn’t impressed with your lovemaking skills.

Don’t fall into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” camp on this one guys.  I know it can be very intimidating and even downright painful, but if you want to have great sex with your wife you need to be talking to her about this.  There are lots of reasons why women pull back from physical intimacy.  Kids, careers, hormones, and physical ailments can all play a part. But the two I see most often are lack of emotional connection and low quality sex.

Men have sex to feel connected, but women have to feel connected to have sex.  So if you aren’t having much sex in your marriage, the first thing I would investigate is how emotionally intimate is your marriage?  Do you date your wife?  Do you spend time talking and cuddling?  If the answer is no, we have lots of articles here to help you reconnect. Assuming there is connection, let’s consider the idea that your wife isn’t getting much satisfaction in the bedroom.  I know.  This is not a subject you really want to consider.  I’ve met with women who have been married for decades but have never had an orgasm! Their husbands gave up trying. But making some minor adjustments could make enough difference to start rocking both of your worlds.

The first thing to be sure of is your hygiene.  Make sure you shower regularly and that means cleaning all your parts!  Smells and stains are a HUGE turnoff.  But there is more to hygiene than this.  Keeping your hair and beard neatly trimmed or shaved is a must unless, of course, you have a multimillion dollar duck call business!  No. Scratch that.  Even then.  Keep ear and nose hair trimmed as well.  Trust me on this.

I said in the last post that for a man to have good sex all he needed was a woman who looked and sounded like she was enjoying herself.  Sexually satisfying you is easy.  But you need to return the favor!  I’m amazed at how many men engage in intercourse and never focus on whether their partner is having an orgasm.  Let’s face it.  Her climax is your number one priority.  Are you surprised to learn that many women cannot orgasm during intercourse?  This means you need to develop skills and techniques to help her along before there is intercourse.  Do yourself and your wife a favor and read She Comes First by Ian Kerner.   This book has been a game changer for many couples.

The good news here is this isn’t all your fault.  It is your wife’s responsibility to communicate her needs and desires during sex. The problem is so many women are reluctant to do this.  I’ve seen many women who are bold and decisive in so many areas of their lives but they completely clam up when talking to their spouse about sex.  Still, it is worth your effort to try and coax her into opening up about her feelings.

I know this is a delicate topic and it is easier to just ignore it and move on.  But if you do, you are both more vulnerable to an affair and to pornography.  Stop settling for little or no sex and start finding a way to solve this problem.  If you need help, contact us.  We have experts who can help you learn how to have great sex with your spouse!

Is Your Husband Bad at Sex?

Dollarphotoclub_62532251Without a doubt, women come in with this complaint way more often than men.  By the time I see the couple, the wife is exasperated and ready to talk but her husband is feeling humiliated and embarrassed.  He would rather get a root canal than discuss why his wife isn’t satisfied in the bedroom.

The wife is often surprised when I say to her “If your husband is a bad lover then you are a bad teacher”.  She doesn’t want to hear this.  She wants sex to be romantic and spontaneous.  She doesn’t want to have to actually talk about what she likes or dislikes.  She shouldn’t have to teach her husband how to be a good lover!  But the truth is…all of us wives have this responsibility.

For a man, good sex happens when the woman he is with looks and sounds like she is enjoying the intimacy.  If his lover is just lying there with a bored look or worse, a ‘get this over with quickly’ look, it is a huge buzz kill.  All a woman has to do to make sure her man feels good, is to look and sound like he is making her feel good. But for a woman to have great sex, it requires skill.  The only way for him to acquire this skill is for you to teach him.

Every woman’s body responds differently.  Learning how to be a good lover for one woman does not mean he will be a good lover for the next one…unless he is taught.  The only one who can teach your husband how to be a good lover is YOU.

Some women tell me they have tried to do this and it hasn’t worked well.  But as I dig a little deeper, I find they have not really done much trying.  Talking about sex…about what you like and don’t like…. can be really awkward.  Sharing and acting out fantasies can be intimidating.  I get this.  But not making the effort is far more damaging.  Women who feel their husbands lack finesse in the bedroom are vulnerable to looking outside of the marriage for sexual satisfaction.  Many of them will stop having sex with their husband altogether.  There are a LOT of married people who simply aren’t having sex.  This is unbelievably sad for me because this is fixable!  It really doesn’t have to be this way.
Two resources I recommend to my clients are written by author, Ian Kerner.  She Comes First is for the men and Passionista  is for women, however I highly recommend both of you read both books!  Even read them together and discuss what you think.  It may open the door for all kinds of interesting communication!

In my counseling practice,we have some great worksheets you and your spouse can do together in the privacy of your home that will also help you open up more about your specific sexual likes and dislikes.  It isn’t reasonable to expect every sexual encounter to move mountains, but if you aren’t enjoying sex with your spouse stop settling for less to avoid awkward conversations!  This is why they call it “intimacy”.  You have to be willing to share your feelings and thoughts.  If you need help getting the conversation going, give us a call.  We want to show you how to swim in the deep end of the intimacy pool!

Next week I will give the men specific tips to help when your wife says you are bad in the bedroom.

When Your Spouse Always Gets Their Way

My Way, Highway Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.There has been a flood of clients recently who have presented with similar situations: one spouse has taken control of the relationship from the other spouse.  For each couple, the methods are different but the results are usually the same.  The spouse who relinquished control is angry, exhausted and wants out of the marriage.

Not one of the controlling spouses meant any harm.  They admit to strong persuasion tactics but they simply wanted something and used their good negotiating skills to get it.  Their spouses however felt very differently in the marriage.  They felt harangued.  Beaten down.  Powerless.  They learned a long time ago their spouse would not quit until they “won” arguments or got their way, so they stopped fighting for their own opinion or desires. They learned to “give up to get along” and they lived quietly resentful for years.  Their spouses never even knew the damage they had inflicted because none of them spoke up. They just grew more withdrawn and resentful each year.  Until the day they decided they didn’t want to live this way anymore.  So they told their spouse they were finished and wanted a divorce.

Here is one story:

Mark and Susan (names changed) came to see me because Mark wanted a divorce. Susan was devastated.  She kept breaking down in tears as she explained she knew for a long time the marriage wasn’t “great” but she didn’t think things were this bad until Mark told her he was done.  She couldn’t believe he was walking out without a fight.  She wanted one more chance to fix things and she believed I could help her because she had read my articles and felt there was hope.  Mark sat there quietly and showed very little emotion.  I could tell he was nervous.  I asked Susan to wait outside and I talked to Mark alone.  He told me he appreciated my desire to help but he really was done.  He said he had lived in a miserable hell for years and couldn’t take it anymore.  He said Susan was a wonderful mother and he didn’t hate her but he didn’t love her either.  Mark described his life with Susan in detail.  Susan was outgoing and had a strong personality.  She was opinionated and very determined. If she wanted something, she didn’t quit until she figured out a way to make it happen. These qualities initially attracted Mark.  He could see how those traits came in handy many times throughout their marriage but eventually, Mark felt he was losing his own power to make decisions.  If he and Susan disagreed about something with the kids or the household, Susan always got her way.  Disagreeing with her meant hours of conversation until Mark got tired of the struggle and gave in.  When he told her she was spending too much money, Susan started hiding the purchases and then minimizing the damage when Mark would express his feelings of anger or concern.  If Mark tried to discipline the kids, Susan would override him and tell him he was being too hard on them.  Finally, Mark stopped trying to have an opinion.  He just kept giving in to what Susan wanted because he was sick of fighting and he was tired of talking about it.  After a while, he felt very disconnected from Susan and the kids.  They complained because he didn’t participate in certain activities with the family any more.  Mark answered these complaints with more avoidance.  He started working more hours and being less available.  Eventually, the family unit learned how to operate under this new normal and years passed.  Mark came to resent Susan.  He felt completely powerless in his own life.  He told me he needed to get away from Susan and was ready to start a new life.

I asked Mark how he contributed to the marriage being in its current state.  He wasn’t sure what I meant.  I mentioned Susan’s control and how he felt he needed to divorce before he could be free to make his own choices.  I knew this would be difficult for Mark to hear.  He wanted to put all the blame on Susan for the way their marriage had been going.  But Susan was only part of the problem.  I explained to Mark that he gave her all his power.  He never learned how to set boundaries with Susan.  He said he couldn’t make Susan do anything…he had tried for years!  I explained to him that boundaries aren’t something he puts on Susan.  Boundaries are limits he puts on himself.  He can’t control Susan’s behavior, but he can control how much he lets it affect him. He can control how much access he allows.

I could tell this was new information for Mark.  I knew Susan could be a handful but I also knew Mark was conflict avoidant.  Setting limits with Susan raised his anxiety and made him very uncomfortable.  It was much easier to give in than to hold his ground.  But giving in every time wasn’t good for the marriage.

Getting Mark to understand he didn’t need to divorce to get back his freedom was an interesting proposition.  He and Susan have a long road ahead of them as he learns how to set boundaries and enforce them, but Susan finds the progress interesting.  She has come to realize Mark with boundaries is a good thing.  It is way more sexy to her to have a man with an opinion who will give a little push back than one who just goes along with everything.  Together they are finding more passion than they have had in years.

I think Mark and Susan will work things out, but it doesn’t always end this way.  Sometimes the conflict avoidant partner finds solace in another person and begins an affair.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Whether you are the one who feels powerless in your marriage or the one who has taken all the power, let us show you how to re-balance with healthy boundaries.  Do something before one of you wants to call it quits.

 

Why Would My Marriage Counselor Tell Us To Call It Quits?

Thank youKaty showed up in my office in tears. She had been trying to get her husband to go to marriage counseling for months.  He finally agreed and they went to see someone locally who was referred to them by a friend. In their first meeting, her husband told the counselor he was only staying in a miserable marriage because of their kids.  The counselor told him kids were never a good reason to stay in a marriage.  Her husband moved out the next week.

Unfortunately, I hear stories like this frequently.  And it makes me angry.  It should make you angry too.  You finally get the courage to show up and spill your guts to a “professional” only to be told your marriage can’t be saved or even worse, shouldn’t  be saved.

No one can or should tell you if your marriage is worth saving.  No expert is an expert on YOU.  But oftentimes clients will ask a counselor to weigh in on this and sadly, many will.

I get emails every week asking me if I know of any counselors in someone’s local area who have our same approach to relationships.  A vast majority of the time, I cannot help them this way.  And while we do offer long distance coaching and face-to-face intensives, counseling is sometimes what is needed most. So to help you choose the right counselor, I’ve listed a few tips you can follow.

  1. Make sure you choose a marriage counselor who is truly a “relationship” expert. There are a lot of therapists out there who call themselves “marriage counselors” or “couples counselors” but have a very limited set of skills to deal with couples who have complicated issues or a high level of conflict. You wouldn’t see a podiatrist if you had a brain tumor.  No one can specialize in everything.  If your counselor lists several areas of expertise, it could be a sign they haven’t really mastered any of them.  Before selecting a counselor, do your research. Ask them what their success rate is for couples counseling.  If it is below 75%, go somewhere else.
  2. The marriage counselor is really an individual therapist.  The fastest route to divorce is to see an individual therapist for marriage/couple issues.  Ask them how much of their practice is based on couples counseling.  If that number is lower than 75%, go somewhere else.  An individual therapist is likely to focus on the one who is in the most distress and will often sacrifice the relationship for personal growth and happiness.  It is easier to suggest divorce than to fix the problems especially if you don’t have the experience.
  3. The marriage counselor is not PRO marriage.  In other words, they are marriage neutral.  Maybe they have been divorced themselves and see it as “no big deal”. Before scheduling, check out their website and any blogs/articles they’ve written.  If you still can’t tell where they stand on the institute of marriage, interview them and find out.  If you aren’t completely satisfied that you are putting your marriage in good hands, walk away.
  4. The marriage counselor is simply a bad counselor.  Yep…it happens.  Having the credentials doesn’t mean you know what you are doing.  I’ve heard stories that make my skin crawl.  If you are in counseling and something doesn’t feel right, consider getting a second opinion.
  5. The marriage counselor takes sides.  I hesitated on this one because this can be tricky.  You want a counselor who can stand in the truth even if that means one or both of you gets upset or gets your feelings hurt.  Occasionally, I will see a couple where one is overtly acting out in inappropriate ways and I have to call that person out on his/her behavior.  But you and your partner should feel confident your counselor is fighting for your marriage. If one of you is feeling ganged up on, try to ascertain whether or not the counselor is legitimately challenging unhealthy behaviors or if this could be a sign it is time for a second opinion.
  6. All too often clients get upset about something a counselor said or did and they simply stop coming to sessions.  No counselor is perfectly on their game for every session every single day of the week.  If you are upset with your counselor or feeling as if you aren’t getting good results, talk to your therapist.  Hopefully, your therapist is checking in on a regular basis and asking how you feel things are going. Give him/her the opportunity to make adjustments and address your concerns.  If you still feel things aren’t going well, don’t hesitate to leave and find another counselor.  If you aren’t feeling good about the service you are paying for, it is likely your counselor isn’t feeling good about it either.  You may be doing everyone a favor.

I can’t express enough how important it is to find a pro marriage counselor who has the training and experience to give you the help you need.  Your marriage is one of the most important relationships you will have, so do your research and be willing to invest the money and time to get things back on track.  It could be the best investment you will ever make.

Oh!  And remember Katy whose husband moved out because their counselor said no one should stay married because of the kids?  We worked with Katy and Mark for just a couple of months and they are thriving.  And so are the kids, btw!    ;-)