Often, people come for couples counseling because one or both people are not happy in that relationship. Sometimes there is a crisis that brings them in, or one of the parties has felt unhappy for some time and wants things to be better in their marriage or relationship. Other times it may be that both people realize what they have tried in terms of resolving their conflicts has not worked.
Sometimes, I counsel a really healthy couple who want to strengthen their skills to navigate the waters in their relationship to increase closeness and connection with one another. Life events can sometimes put added pressure on a relationship and it can drain a partner so there is less nurturance in the relationship.
Occasionally, partners will come in to explore if they are ready to marry. I encourage this to overcome the fear of future divorce. I believe the causes of divorce are often due to a lack of relationship and communication skills rather than a lack of compatibility.
Less often, it is that one of the parties has decided to end the relationship and wants support for both of them in making that decision. Or sometimes what brings the couple in for counseling is that one of the parties has had an affair and the couple wants assistance in getting through the crisis.
What Couples Seeking Counseling Often Say
Lack of Intimacy (not feeling connected) or Lack of Sex
- We haven’t been close for a long time. I can’t go on this way. Something needs to change. I told my spouse we need to fix our relationship or end it.
- I can’t feel close to my spouse without sex. She won’t have sex without feeling close. We need help to figure this out.
- My wife (husband) won’t have sex with me. I can’t continue without this. We don’t connect any other way.
Fighting Over Money Issues
- We always seem to argue over anything that has to do with money. We have very different views about managing money. What can we do about this? I’m tired of our fights.
- We don’t agree on how to spend or save our money. We both have good jobs. What can we do? We can’t seem to resolve this on our own.
Communication and Decision-Making
- We are tired of fighting every time we try to talk about something. We want to learn how to talk through issues that arise. And it’s often the same argument that never gets resolved.
- My wife (husband) makes all of the decisions. I can’t keep holding this in. It isn’t fair.
- I’m feeling more and more resentful over this.
Division of Labor
- My husband makes a good living at his job, but I have to manage everything else. I can’t keep doing this. We need to find a way to talk through this so it doesn’t come between us.
Arguing Over Disciplining the Kids or Spending Time With Them
- We can’t seem to agree on how to discipline our kids. We often fight over this.
- My husband (wife) hardly ever spends time with our kids. Not even to have fun with them.
- I caught my husband (wife) looking at porn. It feels like my spouse is cheating on me. We have to fix this. I don’t trust my partner anymore.
- We disagree about looking at porn. We need help in figuring this out.
- My husband (or wife) had an affair and we need help to repair our marriage if possible.
- My spouse denies it, but I think he (she) is having an affair.
- How do I rebuild trust in my mate after he (she) had an affair? Can we save our marriage?
One or Both Partners Want to Leave the Relationship
- My mate doesn’t know, but I want to leave the marriage. I want assistance in navigating this decision, telling her (him) and then working on separating as friends. The separation doesn’t need to be contentious.
- I feel like I’m done with this relationship, but we have kids and I need to be sure.
Ending Our Marriage
- We are ending our relationship but we have kids. We both want this to be as “friendly” a separation as possible, especially for the kids.
How I Work With My Couples
- I counsel couples in California through a secure online video chat application.
- I often will see them together for the first time to talk about why they are coming and what they are looking for.
- Sessions are from 50-60 minutes long. Couples stay in counseling usually for at least 6 months, or until they have met their own goals for therapy.
- I usually see couples every two weeks. I find this gives them an opportunity to practice what they are learning and to report back what works and what doesn’t work.
- We develop mutually desired goals for the counseling.
- “One size does not fit all” in this case. The goals are an individual fit regarding the couples’ needs, wants, and personalities.
- Sometimes, in the beginning, I will see each person separately for one session, especially if they appear to be in crisis.
- My goal is to teach the couple how to take the skills that they learn in session and practice them at home in between our meetings.
- My emphasis in couples counseling is on learning effective communication skills that nourish the relationship, while resolving the issues at hand.
- I explore what is in the way of them feeling close and connected — connection cushions difficult moments in the relationship. It also helps couples reach for one another more often.
- Teaching the couple how to feel connected in general.
- I will often teach the couple how to navigate through heated discussions, giving them tools to talk through issues that arise in a productive way. This allows them to resolve more difficult issues while maintaining connection.
- Most often I look for balance in the relationship between “me” time, couples time, and family time. Balance in relationships is very important.
- I very much believe “date time” is vital to a couple, especially in our busy world. I help the couple work towards doing this no less than every two weeks. If something is making it difficult to do this, we explore options to make it easier for them.
Types of Couples I Work With
- I work with all types of couples, including roommates, and people of all cultures and beliefs.
Find out more about Susan Saint-Welch HERE.