Trapped in a bad relationship?

By David Joel Miller.

Hate your relationship but can’t leave?

Can't stop fighting?

Trapped in conflict?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you feel trapped in an unhappy situation? You know this relationship is not meeting your needs, but you’re not sure that anything else would be any better. One thing we find in marriage or relationship counseling is that people tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over. If you don’t discover what the problem is, it will keep happening.

Sometimes the problem is one partner or the other. If it’s you then you need to change. If at your partner, well, in that case, your options are limited. You can’t change someone else; only they can change themselves. What you can do is change the situation, change yourself, or learn how to accept the situation. You may decide that this situation needs to end.

Very often, however, the reason the relationship is unhappy lies in the space between two people, the way they relate to each other. There are certain things that people do, which keep the relationship an unhappy one. Therapists often see people who end one relationship, subsequently, start a new relationship, only to find they’re having the same problems in their new relationship.

Here are some things that may be happening in your current relationship which you need to learn how to handle if you are ever to have a happy relationship.

Avoiding conflict does not resolve the problem.

In some relationships, one or both partners are conflict avoidant. They don’t want to argue about things, and as a result, nothing ever changes. Conflict avoidance is an especially difficult problem when the conflict avoidant partner never tells their partner what they want.

Conflicts are part of life. A lack of conflict in a relationship does not mean it’s a perfect relationship. It’s not disagreements that damage relationships, but the way in which two people resolve those disagreements. Work on being able to express your disagreement with your partner in a way that they can hear. Work on finding win-win solutions rather than engaging in protracted disagreements over who is right and who’s in control.

What attracted you, may be pushing you apart.

Finding someone with the qualities you lack can be very attractive. Being with a person who is different from you can be exciting. But after you have been in the relationship a while things change, your needs change, and the qualities that brought you together may be the very things that are causing the problems.

That strong partner made you feel safe in the beginning but ends up being controlling. Your partner may have seemed like a lot of fun and helped you get out of your shell. But now you realize you have always been very responsible, and that fun person now looks irresponsible.

You don’t ask to have your needs met.

Don’t think that if your partner truly loved you, they would do things to make you happy. Very few people can read minds. Being deeply in love does not make you a mind reader. People who will not ask for what they want, create impediments to a good relationship.

You can’t win by beating up your teammate.

When aggressive, achievement-oriented people get together, they often end up competing with each other. When you are both hostile and want to win, you end up locked in a constant struggle for dominance and control.

When one partner assumes the one up position, there’s a high risk that the other partner will become resentful. The best solutions to partner disagreements are learning how to create win-win situations in which both people get their needs met. Compromising does not mean both people need to give up or lose something.

Playing the blame game and finger-pointing damages relationships.

Couples in unhappy relationships often begin to blame each other. When one person is criticized, their response is to criticize their partner for other issues. If you want to have a good relationship, learn to tackle one issue at a time. If you did something wrong admit it. Work on making it right. Pointing out all the things your partner has done wrong does not excuse your error, and mutual recriminations poison the relationship.

Needing to be right requires your partner to be wrong.

Insecure people need to always be right. They never want to hear that anything they have done was less than perfect. They often have lots of excuses as to why it’s not their fault. This “right fighting” can lead to endless episodes of arguments. Often there is no resolution. Many couples argue over things for which there is no correct answer. One person prefers one beverage while the other prefers a different beverage. The inability to allow your partner to have a different opinion than yours has resulted in couples locked in an eternal mortal combat.

Needing the last word keeps the argument going.

Once you’ve had your say, stop talking. Trying to always get in the last word doesn’t make you right. Keeping at it results in a relationship with only one topic, “who is right?” Make an effort to hear your partner out.

If you can’t hear what your partner is saying or feeling, there’s no communication.

Lots of couples show up for marriage counseling wanting to improve communication. What that often means is one of them wants the other to do something. Communication is not about being right or about arguing your partner into doing what you want. True communication in relationships furthers understanding. Make sure you’re listening to understand what your partner means. The missing part of communication is often a failure to understand what the partner is feeling.

If what you been doing or saying has been making your partner feel unloved or disrespected what’s needed is not to prove to them how much you love them or how correct you are. The best way to improve for relationship communication is to listen for the feelings behind the words that are being said. Once you get the feelings, the exact words are less important.

How many problems do you have in your relationship?

In distressed relationships, it is important to take a good look at the things you could do to improve your current relationship. Until you have learned good relationship skills, whether you stay or leave, any relationship you get into is likely to have the same problems.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Top marriage mistakes you may be making.

By David Joel Miller.

Making these mistakes creates unhappy relationships.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes you may be making.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Everyone begins a new relationship expecting that this relationship will be a happy one. Even the best relationships will have some unhappy times. From the large number of relationships that fail it seems clear that having a relationship, by itself, will not make you happy. Having a good relationship is hard work. Here are some relationship mistakes that are guaranteed to produce unhappiness. How many of these relationship mistakes are you making?

Expecting to change your partner.

Often the very things that attracted you to a partner are the things that drive you apart. A man is attracted to a woman because she is outgoing and flirts with him. After they are in the relation, he becomes upset because she is too outgoing and flirts with other men.

A woman meets a guy, is attracted to him because he is spontaneous and excited after a while together she decides he is irresponsible.

In both cases, they likely got together expecting that their partner would change. Happy relationships invest the time in getting to know each other beforehand. They also accept each other as they are without planning on making extensive renovations to their partner’s personality. Getting into a relationship expecting your partner to change results in a lot of unhappiness.

Thinking they will make you happy.

Two unhappy people do not make for a happy couple. You need to be happy by yourself before you can be happy with someone else. If you are frequently unhappy, entering a relationship will just give you someone to be unhappy with. Happiness is an inside job.

Involving your family in your relationship.

It’s common, when people enter a new relationship, to vent their frustrations with their partner to family and friends. Once you have involved your family, gotten them to take sides about who is right and who is wrong, they’re not likely to ever forgive your partner for their mistakes. Getting other people involved in your relationship will either damage your relationship, or it will end your connection to your family and friends. You may forgive your partner’s mistakes but they may not.

Insisting on being right.

If every time you and your partner have a disagreement you insist on proving you are right, you will become a very difficult person to live with. People who always need to be right end up right-fighting which results in a very unhappy relationship. Some of the conflicts you will have with your partner are not a matter of right and wrong. Allow your partner to have their own opinion.

Expecting nothing to change.

No matter how wonderful a relationship is in the beginning, things will change. Stressful times come along. Having children fundamentally changes the relationship. Not having children when your friends do, changes your friendships. There will be stressful times. There will be sickness, sometimes minor and sometimes major.

Making it all about the children.

Couples who shift their focus to be all about their children, often find once the children leave home to start their own relationships, those parents no longer have anything in common. Couples who do not continue to build their couple relationship may not have one once the children escape.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

How to destroy your relationship.

By David Joel Miller.

These habits can demolish your relationship.

unhappy couple

Unhappy Relationship Surprises.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Nothing seems so important to humans as their relationships.  Relationship problems, whether it’s with a romantic partner, family or friends are one of the primary causes of emotional distress.  Plenty has been written about how to find a relationship, how to get into them, how to strengthen one, but we don’t often look at the things people do that could damage or even destroy their relationships.  If you are in an unhappy relationship, look at how many of these relationship destroyers may be taking place.  How many of the things on the list below are you doing that might be harming your relationship.

Continually find fault with your partner.

How much of your time do you spend finding fault with your partner?  No one is perfect; everyone has their faults, but if all you ever say to your partner are words of criticism you are creating a very negative relationship.  If you can’t see anything good about your partner, it’s time to take another look at yourself.  People who only hear about their faults can get discouraged, and eventually, they stop trying.

Never listen to what they have to say.

Early in relationships, people want to hear everything your perspective partner has to say.  If you’ve reached the point where you no longer want to listen to them, something is wrong in your relationship.  Make it a point to try to listen to what they say.  To be heard, you first need to listen.

Insist they need to do all the changing.

Good relationships involve compromise on both people’s parts.  If you’re unwilling to take a look at your part in disagreements and conflicts, you’re creating a situation where your partner has to do all the work.  Relationships are like dances; one person can’t do all steps.  Take a look at what you are doing, no matter how small your part in the problem. You need to be willing to own and to work on that part.

Expect them to make you happy.

Happiness is an inside job.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that someone or something outside of you can make you happy.  If you are unhappy, work on becoming happy.  Putting the burden of making you happy on someone else is an unreasonable burden.  It may be possible for someone to do things to make you unhappy, but happiness is a choice on your part.

Lie and deceive them.

Should you find that you need to deceive your partner, you are creating a dishonest relationship.  We are not talking about keeping small secrets, like what you got them for a birthday present. What are the big secrets you keep that keep you distant from your relationship partner?

Be constantly jealous.

Jealousy is about you.  You can’t control another person.  They are going to do what they are going to do.  If you find that you are jealous, take a look at yourself and your insecurities.  Being constantly jealous and checking up on your partner is a sure way to damage the relationship you do have.

Insist everything needs to be your way.

Every good relationship needs to have some give and take.  If you find that you are insisting on everything being your way you are creating and unworkable situation.  No matter how accommodating your partner is, eventually always having to give in wears thin.  Playing the dictator is a sure way to demolish that relationship.

How many of these relationship destroyers do you practice?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Creating stronger relationships.

By David Joel Miller.

Steps you can take to deepen your relationships.

Relationships

Relationships –
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Life Mental Health)

Do you feel that most of your relationships are superficial?  Do you wish that you could have deeper and more meaningful relationships?  Improving relationships take some work.  Whether your relationship is a romantic one or a friendship one, make an effort to strengthen that relationship.  The strongest romantic relationships have a foundation of deep friendship. Here’s a list of some things that you can do to create deeper, stronger, relationships.

Make others your priority.

Good relationships cannot be all about you.  You are responsible for your own self-care.  If you go into your relationships expecting that others will meet your needs you are likely to be disappointed.  To deepen and strengthen relationships make others your top priority.  Going halfway is not going far enough.  Marriage counselors know that 50/50 relationships rarely work.  In successful relationships, both people expect to put in more effort than the other.

Be a good listener.

Communication is far more about listening than it is about talking.  Good listening is not about planning what you are going to say in response.  To be a good listener try accurately understand what the other person is saying.  It is especially important to look for the feelings behind the words.

Let them know you care about them.

Deep relationships form between people who care about each other.  It’s not enough to sort of care about them some of that time.  Make it a point to express to them how much you care for them.

Be interested in their interests.

In strong relationships, the parties are interested in the things that interest their friend.  Make an effort to learn about the things that interest your friend.  Invest some time thinking about and talking about the things that interest them.

Share your feelings.

Strong, deep relationships involve feelings as well as facts.  Take a chance and share with them how you feel about things.  Sometimes sharing feelings can be scary.  Take the risk, invest in strengthening the emotional bond between you.  If you don’t feel you can share your feelings in a relationship, you ought to be questioning how healthy that relationship is.

Share your thoughts.

Deep relationships require getting to know each other well.  A key way to strengthen your relationship is to share what’s on your mind.  Healthy relationships are ones in which people feel safe to share what they think and believe.  Strong relationships are ones in which people can disagree and still maintains a relationship.  It needs to be OK to disagree.

Celebrate their successes.

Make it a point to notice and to celebrate successes with others.  Quality friendships are not built on jealousy.  Others successes do not diminish you.  Make it a point to notice when someone close to you has successes.  Go out of your way to celebrate their accomplishments with them.

Share your happiness and theirs.

Happiness is not reduced by sharing it.  When others are happy, share it with them.  When you are happy, let others around you know.  The more you share happiness, the more you both have.  Deep relationships have a lot of common memories.

Keep up the communication.

Invest some time and some effort in communicating.  Don’t ever stop communicate.  Strong relationships don’t always need words to communicate.  Your failure to communicate can say more than words you might have said.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Top regrets after the breakup.

By David Joel Miller.

Relationship regrets you may be able to avoid.

Relationship Mistakes

Relationship Regrets.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Ed Yourdon)

When your relationship ends there are often lots of regrets.  Some of those regrets are simply unavoidable.  Things happen, things change and some relationships need to come to an end.  There are lots of different kinds of relationships.  Friendships, working relationships, and most importantly romantic relationships.  You would expect that the closer the relationship, the more careful we would be when getting into one.  Unfortunately, close relationships often start with the smallest amounts of preparation.  Turns out there are some relationship regrets that can be avoided.  Take a look at the list below, the things that people have said they should have done in order to avoid the regrets that come with ending a relationship.

Investing the time at the start of the relationship.

A great many relationships begin with almost no thought.  You meet someone and since you are not currently in a relationship, getting with that person seems like a good idea.  It’s important to spend some time getting to know that the other person before you are so far into the relationship that you can no longer see the exit.

The things you didn’t talk about damage relationships.

Many people fail to talk about most basic and important things at the beginning of their relationship.  Did you and your partner discuss what your expectations were?  Couples often come for relationship counseling because one of the people has done something the other person finds totally unacceptable.

Did the person you’re in a relationship with a flirt when you met them?  The picture you had was that together you would expect them to stop been friendly and outgoing with members of the opposite sex. The picture they had was that you liked their flirty outgoing personality.  Most couples never discussed with their expectations are.

What you didn’t listen to comes up again in your relationship.

Many people do hear their potential partner saying things.  They just choose to disregard what was said.  Don’t think that once you are well into the relationship that partner will automatically forget about some of those things they said were important to them.  If you start off a relationship believing that once you two are together you will get them to change their mind, you are creating a giant regret.

Not trying hard enough on your relationship.

A great many people, after the breakup of their relationship, report that their major regret was not trying hard enough.  When things are difficult it’s easy to believe that the problem is your partner.  But what we discover is that when you change partners you get a new set of problems.  Relationships are hard work.  Be sure that you’ve tried hard enough that there will be no regrets should this relationship end.

Trying to change them instead of understand them.

An incredible number of people get into relationships planning on changing their partner.  Turns out that changing other people is considerably more difficult than it looks.  Investing the time at the beginning of a relationship to genuinely get to understand your partner eliminates a whole lot of regrets later on.

Being unwilling to change. Expecting them to change.

When relationships fail it often is because one or both parties expected the other person to do all the changing.  In life we all change.  Sometimes that change is for the better and sometimes it is not so good.  Once that relationship has come to an end many people come to the realization that they’ve been unwilling to change.

Making your relationship a win – lose contest.

Relationships of any kind should not be a win – lose contest.  Unfortunately, too many people come to believe that life requires that one person has to lose for another to win.  Successful relationships discover that when conflicts arise the best solution is always finding one in which both parties win.

Not owning and fixing your part undermines relationships.

No matter how much the other person is at fault in a relationship the only part you are able to change is your part.  What people in successful relationships discover is that fixing themselves first often produces exactly the kind of change they wanted to see in their partner.

Attacking your partner as a person damages relationships.

When conflicts arise it is important to talk about the differences.  Make requests of your partner for what you would like to see changed.  Attacking your partner, using put-down’s to attempt to get what you want, can cause irreparable harm to a relationship.  Asking for what you want is much more productive than blaming your partner for what is wrong.

You will regret not making relationship repair efforts.

Relationships that succeed over the long haul are the ones in which people make repair efforts when there’s been a disagreement.  Relationships, where people hold onto resentments, are headed for trouble.  Make sure that when you’re having conflicts in your relationship you are the one that makes the repair efforts.  Don’t be the one that has to have the regrets that they never did make the needed effort.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Unhappy Relationship Surprises.

By David Joel Miller.

Why your relationship won’t turn out the way you thought.

unhappy couple

Unhappy Relationship Surprises.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

We humans have lots of relationships and no relationship is more important than the primary sexual, love relationship.  So many people enter into this relationship with great, wonderful hopes for how well it will turn out.  The truth is the majority, more than half of all marriages end in divorce.

For those who choose to live together without the benefit of marriage or who produce children even before they’ve gotten into the relationship, the chances of staying together are even lower.  How come everyone thinks their relationship will be different?  There are few reasons why most relationships are full of surprises.

Some things will not “just work out.” Love will not conquer all.

The common premise is that we’re so in love our relationship will be better than other people’s.  The truth is some relationships just will not work out.  A great many of these relationships end in the first five years.  The early ending relationships usually were not good from the beginning.  There was an attraction but not much more.  Often these relationships were conflicted, with verbal and physical fights.  With that much conflict, no amount of love can overcome the difficulties.

What used to be cute will become annoying.

People who decide to work on their relationship, try to fix things, often come to marriage counseling with a long list of things about their partner they find upsetting.  It’s common for those things that are upsetting to be the very things that attracted the two people in the first place.

He was exciting, but after a few months, that exciting becomes irresponsible.  She was stable with a level head on her shoulders, that stability becomes a stick-in-the-mud who never wants to do anything fun or take any chances.

You partner will not change the way you want.

There is an old saying, men choose women and hope they will never change, women always pick men and hope they will change.  Getting into relationships expecting that once together your partner will change in some particular way is a recipe for failure.  While your partner likely will change, it is likely to be in any direction other than the one you hope for.

They will change in ways you wish they hadn’t.

Lots of the change your partner will undergo will be in directions you didn’t expect.  The partner who used to buy things for you will become the one who doesn’t want to spend any money.

That guy they used to be so much fun and joked with you is likely to turn into the one that flirts with every other girl.

Fifty-Fifty relationships do not work. It will be more like 80-80.

Couples who expect their relationships to be 50/50 are usually in for a shock.  Both partners in a relationship typically think that they’re doing far more than the other partner.  Someone estimated that successful relationships are more like 80 – 80.

There will be a lot more pain, trauma, and grief than you expected.

The one thing you can expect for sure is the unexpected.  Movies and fairy tales always end with a wedding.  What they don’t show are the hard times, the times when things go in the wrong direction.

The real world of relationships involves pain.  There may well be, losses and grief.  That happiness ever after quickly turns to after.

You partner will do and say things you don’t expect.

The first rush of getting together you thought you knew each other so well.  Once the initial attraction wears off you’ll be surprised at the things your partner does and says that you never would have expected.

Your partner won’t see “obvious” things.

Even when you think both of you come from the same culture, you will find that you are mistaken.  Each of you came from a family and that family had traditions, ways of doing things which may well seem strange to their partner. The things that are obvious to you, things that need to be done, things that shouldn’t be done, may come as a great surprise to your partner.

Your partner will shape shift. Prince charming is really a troll.

Remember the end of the movie, after what you see on-screen comes real life.  The princess doesn’t look so royal six months pregnant with a cold, runny nose and dirt all over her.  Somehow that man you thought was prince charming, a few months later will begin to look like he was really that troll from under the bridge.

You will have to put more in than you take out.

Lots of people get into relationships expecting to get their needs met.  Relationships are kind of like bank accounts. If all you ever do is take out and never put in, that account gets overdrawn.  You will find that over time you put a lot more work into this relationship than you ever imagined when you began it.

Relationships need maintenance.

After the relationship comes life.  Jobs come.  You have work responsibilities.  One or both of you may try to further your education.  Very often, way before anyone is ready, there are children.  It’s easy to neglect a relationship in the process of all the other things that happen in life.  Couples who fail to maintain the relationship wake up one day, look at each other and wonder why they ever stayed together

It is hard for the “US” to coexist with the “ME.”

In the early days of a relationship, it is all about us, us, us.  Eventually one of you starts to wonder, now that there is an “us” is there still a me?  Where before you used to want to spend every possible minute together, now you begin to wish for time to do the things you used to do before you were part of a couple.

Your finished relationship house won’t look like the blueprints.

The beginning of a relationship is kind of like planning that dream house, it all looks great in your head.  Once you get that dream house built you may well find out that there are lots of features that didn’t work out the way they looked on paper.

You can find more on this topic under Relationships.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Is Marriage or couples counseling expensive?

By David Joel Miller

How much does Marriage or couples counseling cost?

Will Marriage Counseling Help

Will Marriage Counseling Help?

Lots of people know that they need couples counseling. They have heard about and thought about the things relationship counseling can do for them. They are considering it for all sorts of reasons. What they want to know when they ask about the price tag is often, can they afford it and then will it be worth the price.

It is unfortunate that this question comes in as often as it does. Couples counseling can help. Sometimes it helps a lot. Couples therapy can even help if you have both decided it is over and you want out. This is extra true if there are children involved.

Sometimes couples counseling can help you repair a damaged relationship. Other times it can help you both work through the decision to separate. Remember that if there are children, family, and friends or even pets to consider, the more you can agree on, the less the trauma and cost of taking this to the lawyers.

More than one couple has come in thinking it was all over and they needed to work out the details of the divorce and by the time the relationship counseling was completed they had rediscovered the things they liked about the other person and the relationship was off life support and on the mend.

Couples, married or not, should get the help they need to keep their relationship healthy and growing and the price of seeing therapist shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If there are children involved they need the help in working out the ways to make this less traumatic on the kids.

Let’s look at what is involved and then what it may cost you in time and money.

A good couples therapist can help interrupt the conflict and give you a chance to try on some new behaviors. Sometimes just finding out that what you are going through is typical for a relationship at the stage you are at can be helpful.

The counselor can give you a different way of looking at your issues and can help you develop and practice new skills. The things that brought two people together are often the things that are pushing them apart. The skills you need to start a relationship are not the skills you need to maintain one.

Once your relationship begins to change the common tendency is to blame the partner.  You think they need to change or that you need to get out of this relationship and find someone else. It is rarely that simple. Pick a partner and you get a set of problems. Change partners and you change problems, often for the worse rather than the better.

Most couples end up going to very few couple’s sessions.

The average couple, according to one study, attends couples counseling about 6 times. A few couples may opt for more sessions than that, say twelve or more. Beyond that, you are probably not working on conflicts. You will have transitioned to more of a relationship coaching situation where you are working on growing the strength of your relationship rather than trying to save it.

Some of the how long or how many sessions partially depends on the nature and seriousness of the issues. If there has been an affair the non-affair partner may need time to work on their own pain and issues separate from the couple’s issues.

We often discover that there are personal issues that one or both of the parties are working through. Hidden underneath the “couples issues” and “lack of communication” there are often long-standing serious substance use or childhood issues.

Just the dollars and cents, please.

Divorce

Divorce
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Price for couples counseling varies from area to area. In major cities, the prices can be higher but then so is the office rents and everything else. In my area, the “usual and customary” rate is on the order of $100.00 to $150.00 an hour. A few very new counselors may be lower and some old timer’s with very busy practices charge more.

Relationship issues are not considered a mental illness, even if your spouse is driving you crazy. Most medical insurance or public funding will not cover relationship issues or the coverage will be limited. There are cost cutting things you can do. Some Employee Assistance Plans cover relationship issues. There are low-cost clinics and some counselors offer sliding fee scales for low-income people.

Relationship counseling may turn out to be a bargain.

Even if none of those options work for you and you are looking at paying out-of-pocket consider this:

How much will the divorce lawyer want for a retainer? Do the math. Six sessions at the average price that works out to six hundred to nine hundred dollars. Less than a lawyer. Less than deposits and rent for a second place. Way less than the cost of a custody dispute.

How much time and effort have you put into this relationship? There must have been some reason you two got together and stayed together besides the booze that first night.

If there is any chance of fixing this don’t you owe it to yourself to invest a few bucks in trying to make this relationship work?

One thing I have noticed also. Those people who divorce, they often end up quickly getting into a second or third relationship. A bit later those repeat relationship’s end up in therapy to work on the reasons their past relationships did not work.

My hope is that this post helps put the costs, financial and emotional, of relationship counseling into the larger perspective of the cost of abandoning a potentially good relationship, the effects on the children, family, and friends of not trying to learn how to have a good relationship.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books