Married couples who come in for counseling tend to fall into two broad categories: the ones who come in primarily for relationship enhancement and to further enrich their marriage, and the ones who come in to try and resolve serious problems and issues that are disrupting or jeopardizing their relationship.  Both types share a desire to stay married and to remove the obstacles that stand in the way to greater happiness.

First, to find out how it is. Then, how it should be.

In marriage enrichment or marriage repair, I utilize one of two frequently-updated online assessments with excellent reliability: the Prepare Enrich Assessment or the Gottman Relationship Checkup.

These assessment tools help identify and analyze each spouse’s attitudes and beliefs on an extensive range of topics, including communication patterns, conflict resolution skills, partner styles and habits, personality traits, and many more.

The assessment results, which I share with the couple, help establish a baseline for the following sessions in working through the deeper issues and the individual differences that need both partners' attention.

My Approach to Marriage Enhancement or Repair

With married couples that have hit a plateau, or with those who are encountering serious difficulties while remaining committed to their relationship, I follow a specific counseling structure which is designed to: (1) help me help the couple stay on track, (2) identify the unique underlying reasons of their issues, and (3) ensure maximum achievable change.

This structure unfolds over several sessions and is informed by the following set of beliefs:

  1. Neither party is completely innocent or completely guilty of disrupting the relationship.
  2. If the relationship is dysfunctional, both spouses are contributing by action or by omission to co-creating this dysfunction.
  3. Since the spouses are both the authors and main actors in their interplay, they can re-author the script and decide to play it differently.
  4. Often a marriage needs to be refreshed by agreeing to a new set of rules, a new contract between the spouses which takes into consideration their changed circumstances and the changes that have taken place in each of them since they first got together.
  5. Not all marriages can be saved, but the most serious of attempts should be made to clearly identify why it cannot.
  6. When a marriage is worth saving, no stone should be left unturned in trying to identify and address the deeper causes of the dysfunction.
  7. Relationship skills can be learned and refined at any age and by both spouses, if the will is there.
  8. Problems in the marriage often have to do with external factors, but most of the times the external factors simply serve as a catalyst to reveal internal factors that exclusively concern the two spouses.
  9. Lack of time, children, jobs, finances are problems that may not have easy or immediate solutions, however a stronger couple relationship can make these problems much easier to address or much lighter to bear.

Need marriage counseling? Call Dr. Z for an appointment at (678) 554-5632 or fill out the online appointment request