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!


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!    ;-)

Not Sure If You Want To Stay Married Or Get Divorced?

Weighing Your Options - Choices on ScaleThis is a BIG decision with long term consequences.

There is a lot to consider.

Should you go? Can you afford to divorce?  The average costs in the US for a divorce today is somewhere just under $20,000.  I’ve heard of people doing it for much less but only if everyone agrees on the details and lawyers are absent or minimally involved.  I’ve also seen divorces cost more than $300,000.

Can you support yourself outside of the marriage?  Some states require spousal support and child support which can take a huge chunk from your paycheck.  If you are a stay-at-home parent, you may need to find a full-time job and childcare.

What about the kids?  How will a divorce affect them? Even in the best case scenarios, kids are typically devastated by the news.  You may want to consider counseling for them. Can you bear to live without them for long periods of time during court-ordered visitations?

What about your couple friends?  Will they stay, go or side against you?  The same question applies to some family members.

Then again…should you stay?  What if your spouse doesn’t change?  What will your life look like in 5 years?  10 years?

Is it worth staying in a marriage in which you aren’t happy just to avoid the consequences of leaving?

Can you make the changes YOU need to make so you can be happy in your marriage? For most couples in this situation, it means setting appropriate boundaries and limits on your spouse.  This is hard work.  Are you up for it?

What about marriage counseling?  Maybe you’ve tried it…even several times….and nothing worked.  Should you go to marriage counseling if you aren’t even sure you want to stay married?

I have good news for you.  Power of Two is now doing Discernment Counseling.  We know going to marriage counseling when you are in this place is oftentimes confusing, frustrating and defeating for everyone involved, including your therapist!  This may even be the reason counseling hasn’t worked for you in the past.  Discernment Counseling is specifically geared to respect your reasons for not wanting to stay married while helping you consider the possibilities.  You won’t feel pressured to go on date nights or talk to your spouse about the relationship.  We know you aren’t in the place to do that.

At the same time, we work with your spouse to help him/her come to terms with where you are.  We help both of you figure out how your marriage got to its present place and how each of you contributed to the problem.  We help you see if there is any way to improve things and if the marriage is worth fighting for.

Click here if you want to learn more about Discernment Counseling and how it can help you. Don’t make such a big decision alone.  Contact us here or call us at 972-441-4432.




Divorce Your Marriage NOT Your Partner!

divorceIf you aren’t happy in your marriage what have you done to fix it?  If you are like most people, you have complained to your spouse.  Good for you!  Complaining is the appropriate first step.  But what else have you tried?  Have you asked your spouse to go to counseling?  I hope you have.  If you have done these two things, you have done what most people do when they are unhappy in their marriage.  The problem is…this is where most people stop.  These are two positive steps that can move you forward but they aren’t enough.  Let me tell you why.

Change is hard.  Let me say that again.  Change is HARD.  If it were easy, every diet would work.  But research shows that changing even small behaviors take monumental effort and motivation.  When you complain to your spouse and let them know you need to see some changes, you are giving them an alert but not any motivation to follow through.  Your unhappiness is usually not enough to spur them into action.  Your spouse has to feel a serious threat to his/her own happiness before they are motivated to make changes.

There are lots of ways to motivate a spouse to want to change.  But most people don’t get creative here.  They just give up.  What usually happens is the unhappy spouse gets discouraged.  You have complained for months and sometimes years and your spouse doesn’t seem to get it or even care that you are unhappy.  This makes you feel angry so you withdraw in the relationship.  You stop putting forth effort to connect.  You stop initiating sex.  This doesn’t seem to motivate him/her either so you start to feel hopeless.  You begin to question if this relationship is worth staying in and you become apathetic about your spouse.   You feel he/she doesn’t really love you or they would change.  Soon you start to believe they simply can’t change.

This is a dangerous place to be.  Because once you believe change is impossible, what’s left?  Staying in a miserable situation?  Trying to learn how to endure and find happiness where you can?    Here is where one of two things usually happens.  You either have an affair (emotional or physical) or you divorce your spouse.  And here’s the kicker.  Once your spouse finds out that you have either had an affair or you are filing for divorce, they become very motivated to make changes.  Why?  Because now they are losing something they want.  But oftentimes, it’s too late.  Because you have been suffering for so long that you are done.  You waited until you were worn out and emotionally disconnected before raising the alarm to DEFCON 4.   In fact, when you see your spouse making changes NOW it makes you angry.  I hear “why now” every single week in my practice.  You finally get the courage to end your marriage and NOW your spouse is changing.   You are upset it took extreme measures to get their attention and you tell yourself the changes aren’t real.  They surely won’t last. Your spouse is upset because they feel ambushed.  They didn’t see this coming because you didn’t let them know how bad things really were until it was too late.  Now your spouse is feeling desperate and alone.  They are promising to change any and everything if you will just give it one more shot.

Too often, these marriages end and it shouldn’t be that way!  If you aren’t happy in your marriage, raise the level of alarm before you shut down emotionally.  Don’t just complain, give your spouse some motivation by letting them know if things don’t improve by a certain date, you are moving out.  If your spouse won’t go to counseling, go by yourself!  Just be sure you see a marriage counselor who is PRO marriage.  Keep doing something until you have to go to DEFCON status and make sure your spouse knows it!  But don’t quit trying…and complaining and withdrawing isn’t trying enough.  Get their attention!

By the time most people get to the point of wanting to divorce, they are exhausted and tell me they just don’t have the energy to keep fighting.  But here’s the thing.  Divorce requires exorbitant amounts of energy.  It isn’t a restful or peaceful journey.  Use the energy you would spend to divorce your spouse and divorce your marriage instead.  Build something better than you had before.

At PO2 we fight for marriages and we are good at what we do!  Let us help you build a better marriage.  We can show you how to get your spouse’s attention in a way that will let him/her know you mean business. Our counselors and coaches can work with you no matter where you live.   Give us a call at 972-441-4432.

So Your Spouse Doesn’t Want To Come To Counseling?

Lonely coupleWhat should you do if you are concerned about your relationship but your spouse refuses to come to counseling?  We get asked this question almost every day!  People call us and are feeling trapped.  They want to make things better but feel hopeless because their spouse doesn’t seem to see the urgency, or worse, they just don’t want to work on it.

If this is your situation, I have very good news!  You don’t need your spouse to come to counseling for you to improve your marriage!  Sometimes clients find this hard to believe, but I PROMISE you…I’ve helped save many marriages working with only one partner.  In fact, if your spouse doesn’t want to come with you, forcing him/her with coercion, guilt or threats of leaving will do much more harm than good.  A spouse who shows up under those circumstances is often resistant to counseling and doesn’t want to do the homework.  They end up resenting me and you!  This just causes more trauma to your marriage and increases your feelings of hopelessness.  But leaving things the way they are isn’t the answer either.  You know if your relationship is heading for trouble.  Research shows the average couple waits 6 years before getting professional help and by that time, there is a lot of damage to overcome.  I wonder if it takes that long because someone waits for the other to be ready.

Wonder how it works to do couples counseling with just one of you?

Let’s say I asked you to go home tonight and do or say something to put your spouse in a bad mood.  Would you know how to do that?  I know exactly how to push my husband’s buttons (and he knows how to push mine).  I can’t control his actions, but I sure know how to influence him.  Now, if I use my powers of influence for evil, we are going to have a really bad evening.  By the same token, if I use my powers of influence for good, we have a fair shot at having a great evening!

That’s a simplistic explanation for the process we use, but think about it…as we deal with our partners over time, especially when things haven’t been going well, we often find ourselves reacting to them.  We expect them to react to us.  Once we change this dynamic, magic happens.  Things start to improve and your spouse starts to respond more positively.  I’ve seen entire marriages turn around when ONE PERSON begins to act differently.

If your spouse doesn’t want to work on the relationship, don’t pressure him/her to come to counseling with you.  Simply call us at 972-441-4432, email us or book an appointment online here.  We will help you change your marriage even if you are the only one working.

Do you live outside of the Dallas area?  No worries!  Our coaches are trained in solution focused techniques and will be happy to work with you over the phone.  Give us a call!


If you are getting a divorce…how do you tell the kids?

Child looks at the swearing parentsWe work really hard with our couples at PO2 and Engage With Love to avoid divorce, but sometimes it still happens.  Once that decision is made, the next step couples face is how and when to tell the kids.  This isn’t a pleasant task and it is often handled badly. Especially when a couple is hostile toward each other.  It’s easy to let emotions take over common sense and things are blurted out in front of the kids that can cause serious psychological distress to them.

It grieves me when I see parents use their kids in power plays to manipulate their spouse or hurt them further. It downright angers me when I know parents are trying to turn their children against the other spouse by being critical or blaming the other parent for the marriage ending.  But the situation that always leaves me shaking my head is when a parent gives their child too much detail or shares things the child cannot process.  I had a parent once who told his daughter her mother was having an affair and was texting her lover thousands of times a month.  Then he showed her the phone bill as proof.  This child was 12 years old!  Your children do not have a mental or emotional file for this kind of information.  Avoid the temptation to share details with your child.

Even if you cannot stand the sight of your spouse, now is the time to put on the big girl and big boy pants and play nice.  Not to make life easier for your spouse but to help your children deal with one of the most painful events they will ever experience.   Here are some things to consider if this is ever a conversation that needs to happen in your family.

  1. Talk to the kids with both adults present.  It is critical that you and your spouse handle this conversation together.  Come up with a game plan ahead of time and determine when the talk will take place, what will be said, and who will say what.  Kids need to see that even though their parents may be thinking about splitting up, they can still be a team and work well together when needed.  It gives them stability when everything else seems to be falling apart.
  2. Be honest.  Kids are very perceptive.  In fact, if your marriage is rocky, they have probably already picked up on this.  Make sure what you tell your kids and the length of the conversation is age appropriate.  By no means do kids need to know all the details of their parents’ relationship but they do need some information so they know how to adjust to the new family dynamics.  Here’s an example of how you can start this conversation: “Kids, your mom/dad and I would like to talk to you about something.  You’ve probably noticed that we’ve had a hard time getting along lately.  That can happen for adults too…just like how you guys sometimes have a hard time getting along.  We’ve tried to find ways to get along better but we’ve decided that the best thing for us is to live in separate homes.  Even though things will change in how our family looks, your mom/dad and I will still always be here for you guys to help with homework and everything else you need. “
  3. Reinforce the fact that the issues in the marriage are not the kids’ fault.  Often kids will internalize what is happening with their parents and assume they have done something wrong.  They’ll think if maybe they had been a better kid or listened more, their parents would stay together.  Make sure you reiterate this is not true.
  4. Try to keep things as consistent as possible.  The news of a separation/divorce is devastating enough for kids.  During this time, it’s best to try to minimize any other changes in their lives if possible.  Try to keep their routine as similar as possible to what it was before the news of the separation.  This allows your kids some comfort of knowing that even though their family unit is changing, there is still some consistency in their lives.
  5. Keep the peace in front of the kids.  Don’t argue with your spouse in front of the kids – not even on the phone.  And don’t bad mouth the other parent in front of the kids either.  When this occurs, it makes kids feel they have to choose sides.  Keep the issues you have with your spouse between you and your partner.
  6. Be mindful of the ways your kids may respond to this news.  It’s normal for kids to be angry, cry, withdraw, or get depressed when they hear their parents are separating/divorcing.  If these behaviors go on for more than a few months, they may need some additional help processing how they are feeling about the situation.  Contact a local therapist and make an appointment to discuss any concerns you may have.  Also keep in mind this can be a time when kids start acting out.  They may realize the only time their parents get along is when they are discussing the discipline/behavior issues of the child.  Often children are willing to make themselves the scapegoat in order to see their parents get along about something.

You may have already grieved the ending of your marriage but remember, it’s a major loss for your kids too.  For more tips on how to handle these types of delicate conversations with your kids, give us a call at Power of Two Counseling in Richardson, Texas.  We can work with the entire family as a unit or see the kids separately and help them come to terms with the changes in their family.  Remember!  You can choose not to stay married but you will always be co-parenting and co-grandparenting.  Ending your marriage with dignity and respect is what will help your kids adjust to their new lives.

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