Category Archives: Marriage Round Up

Marriage Counseling Didn’t Work. So Now What?

Did you know a couple waits an average of 6 years between the time they are first unhappy in the relationship to when they finally reach out for help?  SIX YEARS! That’s a lot of time for resentment and unhealthy patterns to build.

And when a couple finally does reach out, knowing who to go to for help can, quite frankly, be a confusing guessing game.

It’s not unusual for clients to come see me after having already been to one, two, or even three or more other counselors first.  They are typically very frustrated and have often lost all but that last shred of hope their marriage can be saved. I usually hear something along the lines of “Marriage counseling hasn’t worked for us.  How can you help us?”

The Marriage Intensive

Couples that find themselves in this situation want – and need – a different approach.  They need a game changer.  A Marriage Intensive can be that game changer.

While traditional therapy is appropriate for many couples, sometimes an hour every week or two just isn’t enough.  Work, family, kids, and LIFE get in the way and derail a couple’s honest attempts to gain the traction they need to truly get to the root of their issues and rediscover hope for their relationship.

What it is.  And Isn’t.

Depending on where you go or who you talk to, a Marriage Intensive (also known as a Couples Intensive) could be anything from a group workshop, to a weekend retreat or boot camp, to something just short of a mini- vacation, interspersed with spa treatments and fancy dinners.

If I’m being honest, none of those fit what I do. At The Marriage Place, a Marriage Intensive is entirely focused – and I mean laser-focused – on the marriage.  YOUR marriage.

They are done in my office and include just 3 people – the two of you and me.  Together, we spend the better part of a day, or two days, transforming your relationship.  That’s it. No fancy dinners and no spa treatments. Truthfully, there isn’t time for that stuff.

What you can expect from an Intensive

I call them “Intensives” for a reason.   The condensed, accelerated format strips away the starts and stops necessitated by traditionally-structured therapy, making them particularly effective in helping couples make significant progress that otherwise would take months to achieve.

Now not every couple comes to an Intensive with the same goals or needs in mind. But for couples that feel “stuck”, or who are on the brink of divorce, or have been frustrated by prior attempts at therapy, a Marriage Intensive can be a smart choice and wise investment in your relationship.

Each Intensive I do is a unique, personalized, custom experience for the couple with whom I’m working.   And from the Intensive, the couple can expect:

  • Increased clarity on what has happened in the marriage and how you each contributed to where you are now
  • Creative solutions to problems that have kept you stuck in repeating patterns of conflict
  • Perspective and understanding of what you each want and need in the future
  • And for many couples, a renewed optimism and a roadmap to a more fulfilling relationship

Post-Intensive

As I mentioned before, couples often wait years before seeking help, so it should be no surprise when I say an Intensive is not a 1 or 2-day marriage “fix”.  I don’t believe those even exist.

I do however believe a Marriage Intensive is the best way to quickly gain the momentum necessary to put a rocky relationship on track such that more traditionally structured follow-up therapy can be effective.   In fact, a follow-up plan and next steps are something that I discuss with each and every couple that completes an Intensive to ensure the substantial progress made in the Intensive becomes lasting change for the relationship.

If a Marriage Intensive sounds like just the thing your marriage needs, don’t wait any longer.  Call my office and let’s get something scheduled soon.

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I Love Him, but I Don’t Like Him

Have you ever been in the midst of conflict with your spouse and thought “I love him, but I sure don’t like him!”? I hear this from a lot of wives. Certain qualities of their husbands generate feelings of warmth and appreciation, but other qualities drive them into resentment and contempt.

What we love

In my talks with these wives, appreciation for their spouses usually comes from a glimpse into their husbands’ softer sides. When we share a memory that makes us both laugh, or receive a “thank you” for something we did, or get a spur-of-the-moment backrub (my favorite), we naturally feel drawn toward our partner. We smile when we look at them and look forward to spending time together.

What we hate

Unfortunately, for many wives, glimpses into their partner’s soft side are few and far between. Over time, the patient, kind words and thoughtful gestures have dwindled, replaced by harsh words and criticism, to the point that the last thing we want to do is look lovingly into his eyes.

In my experience, this is usually the result of “hard side” behavior from the husband. (For those wondering, yes the roles can be reversed.  Sometimes it’s the wife exhibiting these behaviors.  But for now, I’m addressing what I see most often.) Typical behaviors include:

  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Rage
  • Excessive criticism
  • Difficulty to please
  • Verbal, emotional and sometimes physical abuse

It’s tough to live with someone like this. They maintain control by intimidation, or by playing the victim.  And these husbands have a special way of turning the tables:

''“When we see our partners’ soft side, we’re naturally drawn toward them''. Click To Tweet

When their wife expresses hurt, the husband can find a way to make the situation about himself, rather than about hearing her pain.

Why this happens

When someone is using hostility and intimidation, they’re trying to regain a sense of control in the relationship. Your husband is hearing something from you – or maybe from someone else – that makes him feel “less than.” He’s afraid he’s not measuring up in the workplace, or at church, or compared to his friends, or maybe even in the bedroom.

These husbands need to hear the truth, but frankly they’re too fragile to handle it. Many know this. But knowing doesn’t always translate into behaving differently.

For us as wives, responding to this insecurity often means hiding our true feelings. We can’t express what we really want or need, because it kicks off another cycle of hostile behavior from our partner. That’s when our resentment kicks in. And it breeds contempt for our spouses, and for ourselves, since we know we’re living a lie. We act like everything is okay, when in reality our lives are crumbling.

What you can do about it

You’re reading this blog because you’re not willing to live this way any longer. Here’s your action plan:

1. Realize this is about differentiation. Your husband is having a hard time differentiating what’s going on in his world from his sense of worth as a person. When you give him information that’s painful, he’s likely feeling shame, and he lashes out to bury that pain.

2. Listen, but don’t surrender. You can acknowledge his feelings without agreeing with him. Hold on to your core truths. You know what makes you special.

''“Hold on to your core truths. You know what makes you special.''. Click To Tweet

3. Tell him you love him, but not this behavior. You must be honest about your feelings. Hiding them won’t work. They’ll come out another way, usually through seething resentment, which is a ticking time bomb for the relationship.

This isn’t a magic formula that will heal all hurts. But it can give you a firm place to stand for more conversations.

Most people find it helpful to have an experienced person coaching them through a process like this. If you’d like to explore this, give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We can help you like your husband again, in addition to loving him.

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