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With society experiencing great changes, the term marriage counseling itself has come to be defined more broadly. Many couples are who are in many different states of personal and legal commitment seek counseling to define their relationship. This may include before marriage (premarital counseling) or before increasing their personal commitment in which they may plan to live together, have children, adopt or enter a same sex relationship. The complex unifying of second families, blending families and step families is another situation in which couples counseling can be beneficial.

In mixed marriages, ethnic, cultural and religious differences may lead to misunderstandings and conflict. If you are in a Inter-Racial, Inter-Ethnic, Gay, Lesbian, inter-faith relationship you may seek understanding the definitions of isms that may be defined by your family, friends, friends and religion.

Life Transitions
Often times couples go through predictable developmental stages. Many times counseling is sought out in times of crisis, upheaval and major changes taking place in a person's life. Many come to treatment when one or both partners feel misunderstood, frustrated, hurt by the other party or deeply disappointed in the relationship. Frequently many of these feelings have been surfacing for a while generating hurt, anger and poor communication. Each individual has the unpleasant sense that they are no longer part of a meaningful, committed relationship feeling alone, lost and misunderstood.

One partner may want counseling and the other one may exhibit reluctance to explore their personal issues. The unwilling partner may feel pressured, guilt and or shame to engage in counseling which results in the misperception about the process and goals of couples counseling.

As your therapist I work to understand both parties needs and desires and help you develop clearer ways to understand and meet each other's needs. I will inquire about the positive parts of your relationship as well as the areas of difficulty. Most often during times of discomfort and turmoil many of the positive reasons for engaging in the relationship in the beginning are forgotten or redefined in a negative stance. Usually there are many strengths in relationships and it is very important that these be honored and nourished while the problem areas are also being addressed.

Often times disappointment, hurt and frustration tend to mount in a relationship and couples tend to find themselves at opposite end of the spectrum. Too much hostility, conflict, anger cane take the form of silence, depression, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawal or stuckness in a relationship. When couples attempt to communicate with each other they often argue, disagree and are unable to see the other's perspective and tend to shut out the other's view. Learning to listen to each other and seek alternative solutions is important for the future growth of the relationship. Counseling seeks to provide help in resolving these issues and develop positive techniques that the couple can use in the future.

Definition of personal commitment needs to be explored by the couple as you experience lifestyle differences, personal and historical family values, money management issues, cohabitation, monogamy, sexuality, infidelity and personal identity. Taking the next step towards your relationship whether it be a deeper commitment or choosing to seek separation and/or divorce, you may need assistance to explore this.
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