couples counseling Articles

Marriage 101: Advice from a Christian Marriage Counselor

Marriage, when it is not working, can be the loneliest place in the world. The covenant of marriage requires us to love, honor, trust and cherish. If we don't do that, then we have no foundation to stand on. Every argument we ever have is a trust issue. When we violate trust, to any degree, then we are telling our partner that our love is not important and they are not important.

You can love someone and not trust them, but when you trust, the love will always follow. In Christian marriage counseling, we work on trust. There is nothing we can do about love because it is an emotion.

The safety of hearing each other and validating each others perceptions does not require agreement. It is a true act of love. It gives us a place to work through the tough issues with empathy and respect. No secrets are needed when both parties are safe to hear each other and validate ("I understand," "I hear what you are saying," "What you're saying is...").

Men's Needs Versus Women's Needs

In general terms, men and women have different fundamental needs.

Women fundamentally take the temperature on the marriage based on how much they feel "cherished." Cherished means: "She is my best friend," "I don't know what I would do without her," "I'm so lucky to have her." When women don't f...

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Improving Your Marriage: Marriage and Family Counseling Together

In my work, I see a mix of couples, families, and individuals. It’s rare that a problem exists solely with an individual without any repercussions for the surrounding family. Problems that affect you will affect your family and problems that affect your family will affect you.

A bedrock of your family, your marriage serves as a motor for the family as a whole. If the marriage is healthy, your family usually shows signs of health but when marriage problems arise, they can affect the whole family as well, like a series of ripples in a pond.

The Social Ecology of the Family

Imagine a series of concentric circles. Somewhere near the middle is the circle that represents “you” in your wholeness and entirety. There are few more inside which represent your mind, your body, your body chemistry, and your soul.

Moving outward from the “you circle,” next, we might see your immediate family, your extended family and friends, your neighborhood, your city, your culture, and your country. Like rings of a tree or the ripples on a pond, these circles represent the multiple realms that affect who you are. This series of circles is sometimes called the “social ecology of the family.”

“Social ecology of the family” is a heavily loaded term, so let’s dissect it ...

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Honey, I Think We Need a Communication Coach

You may have heard that only a small percentage of what you communicate is actually in your words. The look in your eyes, the expression on your face, the shape of your mouth, the tone and timbre of your voice, your body language – all join together in a little symphony of communication when you try to speak to someone else. All this information is coming your direction when someone is trying to communicate with you.

To make matters even more complicated, in addition to receiving all this information, your mind has to comprehend the language, the form, and the idea behind it. Add to this the fact that typically while someone is speaking, we are having possible responses pop up in our minds at the end of every sentence, and it’s amazing anyone ever communicates anything.

When we reach an impasse in our ability to communicate effectively, it is time to call on a professional communication coach to help us navigate those waters. We need a referee.

A Quick Example

Let’s make up a couple, Karen and Bill. They’ve been married a few years, have a couple of young kids, and by mutual agreement, Bill has a day job and Karen runs the household. Karen is having one of those days – kids have been fussy, the check engine light came on, she dropped a full cup of coffe...

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Divorce Counseling For Couples With Children: 6 Unexpected Benefits

One of the great tragedies in any life is the dissolution of what was supposed to be a lifelong journey. Divorce usually marks the death of shared hopes and dreams and is deeply disruptive to everyone involved. There is a scale of life stressors by someone named Rahe; on this list, divorce is rated second, just after the death of a spouse or child.

The pain and stress of the transition are significant, sometimes enormous, even if the people involved somehow manage to guard against despondency, avoid blame shifting, manage their anger, maintain civility and focus forward toward a more positive “new normal.”

If neither spouse is immovably spiteful or bitter to the point that they no longer have the capacity to have the children’s best interests at heart then this is a situation where a licensed counselor can make a huge difference in helping the couple manage the emotional currents present in the process. If there are children involved, even more so. If the parents are unable to agree to settle things amicably, their lawyers will end up doing it in court.

Divorce Counseling When Children are Involved

What follows is only intended for couples where there is no abuse involved. If one or both parents are abusive, the divorce probably will not be amicable, and if...

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Couples Therapy: Online vs. In Person

For most couples, there will be ups and downs in their relationships. While we would love to live in the bliss and infatuation that often accompanies the honeymoon period, we will all at some point have a rough patch.

Relationship satisfaction can look like a roller coaster. Ideally, this would be the most boring roller coaster that is all height without the fall, but usually, there are dips.

First of all, this is normal and not a sign that your relationship is doomed. Secondly, many couples find great success in increasing satisfaction by entering into couple’s therapy.

In the modern world, there are many options for therapy and counseling. Much of the success of therapy comes from the “fit” between the therapist and client(s).

Shopping for therapists is a normal and healthy process to find one whose style works for you. Some will be more directional, others more facilitative of processing emotions.

More recently, online counseling and therapy are becoming options therapists provide. This might be part of the shopping process for you as you begin to assess what your needs and desires are for therapy. Before getting into this distinction, however, it would be good to understand what the process of therapy will look like from either method (online or in person...

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Does Online Couples Therapy Work?

Does online couples therapy work? Before I can fully answer this question, let’s first talk a little about what couples therapy is.

A Definition of Online Couples Therapy

By its very nature, the definition of couple’s therapy is a form of mental health counseling used to treat relationship distress, such as poor communication skills, incompatibility or a wide variety of other psychological disorders. Its purpose is to restore functioning to the coupled relationship and address the reasons for the distress in the first place.

There are several different theories of couples-based therapy treatments that have proven to be effective in various forms. According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders ( below are some of the more commonly used models for treating couples.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the different schools of thought related to couples therapy, but just an idea of what types of therapeutic practices your particular therapist might employ.

  • Traditional behavioral therapy which focuses on behavioral change, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Psychoanalytic therapy where the focus is on unresolved childhood conflicts with parents and how these are part ...
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Activities for Christian Married Couples: Games to Spice up Your Sex Life

* Please note: This article contains mature content. 

Mignon McLaughlin describes it best when she says, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

Marriage is beautiful, but just like the saying every rose has its thorn, so does marriage. Marriage is always depicted in romantic comedies as easy and fun, carrying a lighthearted energy when the woman is in the presence of the man.

Culture and films create an unrealistic expectation for married couples today, making them fall into traps of dissatisfaction because they do not hold this fictitious story tale.

There are many reasons you could be reading this article right now. Maybe you feel that your sex life has become monotonous and you are seeking adventure. Maybe you feel that you and your spouse are so emotionally disconnected that creating a romantic atmosphere is difficult.

In marriage, there can become so many facets and explanations as to why your sex life is suffering. It is important to be aware of factors that may be complicating your sex life. At times when we are struggling with issues with our spouse, it can creep into the bedroom, making it challenging to get in the mood of being intimate.

Communicating with your partner and being able to b...

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