I have posted a new video discussing my use of Gottman Method in session when working with couples. You can view it here.
I see clients on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am until 7 pm and on Saturday from 9 am until 1 pm. I gladly offer reduced fee services if financial circumstances are prohibitive for potential clients.
(706) 534 – 8558
Aaron D. Kirkwood, LAMFT
I would love to say that couples couseling is always successful. The question of whether it will work or not is determined by a number of factors including whether the couple is willing to put in work towards repairing and improving their relationship. There is no easy answer to such a complicated question and each couple may experience a slightly different result.
The truth is we don’t often “solve” a couple’s problems in couples counseling sessions. Instead what we do is give them the tools to address their problems and deal with them in a more productive way. According to findings from the Gottman Institute who run the “Love Lab” in Seattle, Washington only about 31% of a couple’s problems are “solvable”. What couple’s counseling is really about it is developing skills for effective communication so that a couple can learn to live with these problems by acknowledging their partner’s thoughts and feelings and in turn feeling that their own thoughts and feelings are being validated.
Imagine a scenario where you have gotten your way when a conflict has arisen in your relationship and your partner throws their hands up in exasperation and exclaims “Fine we’ll do it your way but I still think I’m right!” You’ve gotten your way, sure, but how satisfied do you feel? Now imagine a scenario where your partner says “I hear what you’re saying and I know why you would like to do it this way but I really think it’s better if we do it this other way and here’s why…” Now you may not get your way in this second scenario but you’re likely to feel much more positive about the situation because your partner has truly heard and understood your point of view. Through the use of roleplaying and modeling these strategies couples counseling can help you learn how to be a better partner and what you should expect in return from your partner.
My own work with couples is heavily influenced by the work of the Gottman Institute. They have spent decades researching what makes for happy, lasting relationships and what leads to the inevitable demise of other relationships. Using this research, I help couples develop the skills (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) that bolster healthy, loving relationships while avoiding the pitfalls (The Four Horsemen) that mire couples in patterns of conflict and ill communication.
Are you willing to work to change the unhealthy patterns that have developed over time? Are you open to constructive feedback about what you already do well and what you can do to improve? Do you desire to get back on track and live a long and fulfilling life with your current partner? If so, then couples counseling may work for you.
If you would like a better idea about the kinds of communication and conflict resolution skills that I assist couples in working on you may want to watch this excellent video of a presentation given by Laura Heck, who is a Master Trainer for the Gottman Seven Principles Program.
Please contact me today and let’s setup an appointment for couples counseling to help get your relationship back on track. I can be reached by telephone at (706) 534-8558 or by e-mail at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com.
We are so pleased to welcome the latest addition to our team at Counseling Associates for Well-Being, Aaron Kirkwood. Aaron is a masters graduate of a marriage and family therapy program. He is available to see couples, individuals, and families in our Athens office. He is offering reduced fee services for those that need that and offers some evening and weekend hours. He will also be serving as our new intake coordinator, assuring that people who contact us for care are connected to the best options for them.
Real Reasons You Are Going to Couples Counseling
Most couples I see state that the reason they are coming to counseling is “to improve communication.” Usually, there IS difficulty with communication, but if people were completely honest, they would give the following many, different, real reasons for seeking couples counseling.
- I want to have more sex with my partner
- I want my partner to listen to me
- I want my partner prioritize me over his/her family of origin/children/work/friends
- I want my partner to be less emotionally reactive
- I want my partner to be able to have a calm, rational discussion with me
- I want my partner to be more passionate about me
- I want my partner to do more household chores
- I want my partner to do more childcare
- I want my partner to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to stop telling me to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to lose weight
- I want my partner to stop lying
- I want my partner to validate my feelings
- I want my partner to think more logically
- I want my partner to share his/her feelings
- I want my partner to calm down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop leaving when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop shutting down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to be more fun loving, like he/she was when we first met, before we got married and had children
- I want my partner to stop having a physical affair
- I want my partner to stop having an emotional affair
- I want my partner to get over my affair
- I want my partner to stop drinking/smoking/doing drugs
- I want my partner to love me in a way that heals all of my wounds
- I want my partner to love me in a way that makes up for my childhood
- I want my partner to stop yelling at me
- I want my partner to stop ignoring me
- I want my partner to finally, fully understand me
- I want my partner to parent our children the way I do
- I want to leave my partner but I am worried about him/her and I want him/her to be in the care of a mental health professional
- I want a therapist to tell us that we need to divorce
- I want my partner to say that he/she will do anything to save our relationship
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so I am not so scared
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so my partner will control him/herself
- I want the therapist to fix my partner
Do any of these resonate with you? The more honest you can be with yourself about your reasons for seeking couples counseling, the more effective it can be. Need some help in your relationship? Give me a call and let’s get real about what you need.
Susanna Rains Moriarty, LPC, CRC
706-425-8900 ext 709
You and your significant other have decided you are ready to take your relationship to another level by getting married. Congratulations on making this decision! With all the excitement in the air about getting married and planning for a wedding, you may have given little thought to some serious topics that will impact you long after you have celebrated your union.
Through my conversations with newlyweds and couples in general, I have found these ten topics to be important to discuss prior to marriage. I encourage you to dive deep and spend some time with your significant other discussing what you want life to look like after you say I do. Focusing on these topics now can help you build a great foundation as a couple.
1. Communication – Effective communication is the lifeline of a relationship. There are so many things you will need to communicate as a couple. To begin, consider each of your communication styles. How are they different? How are they similar? Issues will arise and disagreements will come. Think about how you might want to work through these things. How have you previously handled disagreements? Did it work? If not, learn communication techniques or conflict resolution strategies to help you get through these moments. Your discussion of the remainder of the topics is a great opportunity to practice your communication skills.
2. Family Background– Whether you have met your significant other’s family members or not, your upbringing is worth discussing. Discuss your family dynamics. What was it like to live in your family growing up and what is like to be a part of the family now? What are your family traditions? Do you plan to continue with any of them?
3. Expectations of Your Spouse/Partner – Each person has ideas of how they imagine their marriage will be and what they expect from each other. Instead of leaving it to chance that your spouse/partner will read your mind and know what you expect, clearly communicate your expectations of each other.
4. Relationship with in-laws –. While starting your own family can be exciting, it may also present some challenges with staying connected to your individual families. Discuss how you want to remain connected to your families. How do you want to spend time with them? How will you all celebrate holidays (with or without family and with whose family)? Don’t let these moments creep up on you before you decide.
5. Managing finances – Finances is often an issue for many couples, especially if you haven’t discussed your financial expectations and plans. To get a better understanding of your significant other’s views on finances, discuss your upbringing as it relates to financial management (i.e. how was it managed in your home?) and how you are currently managing finances. How do you plan to manage your money (i.e. budget, separate or joint checking accounts)? What are your short-term and long-term financial goals as a couple?
6. Sex – Whether you have had sex or you are waiting until marriage, you will want to talk with your significant other about sex. Discuss your sexual health, your concerns as well as your expectations. Also acknowledge that your desires and needs may be different and can change. Be open to talking about that. It may be hard for you to start this conversation, however, you will be glad you did. If you find it difficult to address this topic, consider seeking professional assistance. A therapist can offer you the safe space you need to openly talk through this topic.
7. Career Plans – Along with money and sex, career plans is another top concern for couples. Prior to marriage, spend some time with your significant other discussing your individual career plans. Consider how your current jobs and future career plans will impact your relationship or the expansion of your family. If you travel a lot, work long hours, or have different work hours, how will this affect your relationship? If one of you will have to relocate to join the other person, what impact will relocation have on your relationship or the other person’s career plans?
8. Addressing Unresolved Issues – Marriage can be viewed as a way to escape issues from your past that have not been resolved. However, these issues will follow you into marriage. Before you say I do, consider how past hurts, disappointments, resentment, and failed relationships have affected you. Discuss these with your significant other and determine how to best address them. Seek professional assistance if need be.
9. Expanding Your Family – It is important for you and your significant other to have an open conversation about whether you would like to expand your family beyond the two of you (and your fur babies). Decide if you want to have children. How many children would you like to have? When would you want to have them? Are you open to adoption or foster care? Are you willing to care for family members (i.e. nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.)?
10. Religion & Spirituality – Whether you have no beliefs, the same beliefs, or different beliefs, it is important to discuss this topic together. Even if you have similar religious or spiritual backgrounds, there may be some differences in your practices or beliefs. If you have different backgrounds, you may want to decide how you plan to continue your practices separately or together.
Hopefully, this list will help you start an insightful conversation that could lead to a much better future for you and your significant other. As you discuss each of these topics, you may realize that there are additional topics that are relevant for you all to consider. If you feel that you need assistance in addressing any of these areas, schedule an appointment with me. As a Prepare Enrich facilitator, I like working with engaged and newlywed couples. I can help you explore various areas of your relationship while also providing you with skills and tools to help strengthen your relationship. To schedule an appointment contact me at 706-425-8900 ext. 704 or email@example.com.
Here, in an interesting article, Keith Molyneaux helps us look at relationships from a different perspective: “Why Men Withdraw Emotionally”, and offers insights about men’s world. It may not apply to everyone, yet it certainly opens space to consider our own reactions: when we withdraw and why -man or woman-, whether it comes from protection and/or frustration, confusion or overwhelming feeling. It also brings more clarity about existing double standards and levels of expectations men have to face. Keith Molyneaux looks into the challenge of 2 partners needing nurturing, empathy, support and recognition at the same time, with one of the two having more experience, in this area, than the other.
Resonating with this article? Open to explore each other’s world in a safe environment? Feel free to contact Aline Robolin, LPC at 706 425 8900, ext 705, or Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.
A communication approach that many couples engage in when experiencing conflict is what I like to call “Lawyers in a Courtroom.” One person presents her case, complete with a list of the partner’s transgressions to prove that she is right and her partner is wrong. The partner, in turn, compiles his rebuttals and responds with a ledger of her wrongdoings. There is typically a great deal of verbal volleying with very little listening. By the end, both parties feel hurt and angry and even more entrenched in original viewpoints.
This approach might work if there is a judge or a jury who ultimately decides who “wins” and each party never has to see each other again. The thing about committed relationships is, you still have to live with your partner. Or at least continue to interact with them. So even if you are able to prove to your partner that she is “wrong” and you are “right,” how loved do you think she feels? How respected? How understood? If she is left feeling devalued and resentful, what have you really won?
The good news is there are some simple changes a couple can make in the way they handle disagreements. By handling them in a different way, conflicts can go from being painful and alienating to facilitating closeness and intimacy.
The husband of one of my couple-clients said at the end of our work together, “I didn’t want to start marriage therapy because I thought I would have to change who I was as a person. What I found was that you gave us tools that changed our whole relationship for the better.”
If you are interested in learning a new way of handling disagreements with your partner, please contact me to schedule a couples counseling session at 706-425-8900 ext 709 or firstname.lastname@example.org.