Is Marriage or couples counseling expensive?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How much does Marriage or couples counseling cost?

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 for 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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Staying together for the children?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Family torn apart

Divorce.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Staying together for the kids isn’t enough.

In relationship counseling we run into a fair number of couples that have been together a long time, often 20 years or so, and now they find that they just can’t hold it together anymore. The most common cause of these issues is that they have spent the last twenty years “staying together for the kids” instead of staying together because they want to be together.

Most people who have worked with children will tell you that your children are not being fooled by this behavior. Kids know when mom and dad are distant and don’t like each other even when there is no outright fighting going on.

Growing up in a home where the parent’s wish they were not together is not much fun. If you are in that situation consider letting go of your resentments and working on the relationship. If you have to live there you might as well find a way to make the relationship better.

Relationships can self-destruct without children.

It is not unusual for relationships to go through a period of severe distress just about the time the oldest child is graduating from high school. Couples look at each other and ask “why did we stay together all these years?” If it was for the kids now what? Do you two still want to be together?

Relationships like cars or houses need maintenance. If you have just used your relationship to focus on the kids and have not kept the connection with your partner healthy then after the kids are gone there is not much left.

Some couples split up and try to start their lives over. Most of the time they end up in new relationships, now wanting a relationship for themselves instead of for the kids. Often both people get new partners. Who wants to be alone once the kids are gone?

Guess what? This complicates things. You are not a twenty-something anymore. Your new partner comes with an ex and some kids. So you, your ex, your new partner, your ex’s new partner, and the kids and all their partners keep crossing paths. You think you put your needs on hold for the kids before? Looks like it has just gotten worse. Do you get to enjoy life while you are still alive?

You can distract yourself from being where you are.

Lots of people stay in bad relationships and suffer. They think that the suffering they will go through by staying is less than what they and the kids would go through if they end this relationship.

Plenty of people go through these young-children-years by trying to stay busy and distract themselves from a relationship that is not meeting their needs.

Dads tend to work a lot. The old idea was that dad worked and paid the bills so that the rest of the family could have a good childhood. The result of this model was that dad got robbed of being a part of the family he was paying for and the rest of the family gets to resent dad for never being there.

Lots of expensive toys do not make up for a lack of loving relationships.

Moms also get caught up in this. Mom usually has two or more choices of ways to stay busy and avoid looking at what is lacking in her life. Mom can become a fanatical “soccer mom.” Spend all day and all night not just taking kids to places but also volunteering to help the activity take place. Mom can get so caught up in the school and the soccer league and the clubs that she does not have time to talk with her own kids let alone dad. Or mom can insist the kids need more things and expensive activates and she can go to work and stay busy that way.

What will mom do if the kids escape? Some chase the grandkids down and try to stay busy and others drop into a deep depression because their life has no meaning without someone else to make happy.

Staying and suffering and going and suffering should not be your only choices.

Smart couples develop other choices. If you are having difficulties you work on the issues. Couples counseling can help, so can making sure that you allocate some time and resources to maintain your relationship. Couples that enjoy being together and doing things together survive the kid’s exodus.

Think this over. You have a lot of time invested in your family. Are you waiting to do your time so you can escape after the kids leave or are you willing to work on this relationship so that the two of you will have reasons to be a couple after the kids have moved out and on and started their own families?

There is life after children. You can have a good relationship after your kids start their own lives if you two can get through the process without hurting each other so much there are just no good feelings left in the relationship account.

If your relationship feels like doing time, consider getting help from a professional relationship counselor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Partner did something wrong – now what?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What do you what your partner to do when they have done something wrong?

How you and your partner handle the times when one of you makes a mistake will make all the difference in how your relationship fares.

Partner mistakes come in all sizes and varieties from the serious to the trivial.

What you think of as terrible another person may not even notice.

 

Expectations cause conflicts.

If you planned a special dinner and your partner is late getting home from work, this will have a different impact on you than them. If you were expecting them to take out the garbage or perform another household chore and they were expecting to do this later, you can end up with a resentment over something they still plan on doing.

Couples problems that are the result of differences in expectations often result from one or both partners not verbalizing what they expect the other partner to “just know.” This belief, that your partner should know things without being told, is called “mind-reading” and creates a lot of couple’s conflict as does differences in expectations about who does what chores and when.

Having these discussions about what you expect and when is a first step in improving couples communication. The second step is getting clear on what comes after your partner fails to meet your expectations.

Think about what you want your partner to do if they made a mistake. Then ask yourself if that response will make your relationship better or worse. If your partner does not know what you are looking for they will be unlikely to hit on the correct response by accident. Some of the possibilities below fall under the heading of “repair efforts” other fall into the category of behaviors that damage relationships beyond repair.

Do you want your partner to suffer?

If your partner has done or not done something and as a result, you are feeling hurt, is your first response to make them suffer? People who try to fix their own hurt by striking back at their partner may believe this is evening the score but the usual result is to add more pain and resentments to the space between you.

When you are hurt and suffering and then make your partner suffer to get even, your relationship suffers the most.

Should your spouse admit it?

In couples counseling, we hear one partner request of the other that they “just admit you did it.” This rarely solves the problem. It may be the first step, but once they admit they were late, forgot the appointment or another misdeed, what should they do next?

If this is what you request, consider whether this will be sufficient or will you need to continue to remind them of how much it hurt you? If once they admit their mistake you still feel less than whole what else is required?

Should your partner apologize?

Are you looking for an apology or will more than a sorry be required?  Repeated apologies about the same thing don’t cut it. Eventually, you two will need to do some communicating to resolve where the problem lies.

For some people apologizing is saying the words, for others, it is taking action to change things. Be clear what form of apology you will require and communicate this to your partner.

How would they make it up to you?

Some couples practice a sort of “restitution” for things undone or done wrongly. What would make it up to you? Have you communicated this clearly to your partner? Do they agree with you?

Do you want them to brainstorm and come up with a suggestion on what they could do to make it up to you? Or do you feel you should be the one to ask for some other behavior from your partner that would make you feel compensated for having your expectations not met?

Should your partner empathize with you?

Knowing your partner understands and empathizes is just the thing for some people. Other people do not care if you “get their feelings” and want action. Couples that communicate well can discuss with each other what will work for them.

Should your partner give you a hug or kiss?

Are you someone for whom physical affection will make it right? If so an exhibition of psychical affection can go a long way to repair the damage done when your partner lets you down. Knowing they love you or that they love you anyway solves lots of problems.

Should they show their love in some other ways?

Are there other ways that your partner may make you feel especially loved? I find that Chapman’s – The Five Love Languages is a good starting point for couples to have the conversation about what makes them feel loved.

If your partner has done something that let you down, disappointed you or that you feel was flat wrong, what are you expecting them to do next?

You can find more posts about Relationships and Couples therapy at:

Relationships

Couples Therapy

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Why counselorssoapbox by David Joel Miller

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Counselorssoapbox.com

Who is this David Joel Miller and why is he writing a blog called counselorssoapbox?

Counselorssoapbox is a blog about recovery, wellness and having a happy life. Yes, you guessed it, I am David Joel Miller and I write this blog. It occurs to me though that I have not explained why I write this blog and why I called it counselorssoapbox.

Someone is snickering under their breath the words “for the money” If you were thinking that then you would be more delusional than I was when I started writing this blog. Not delusional in the psychiatric sense, but delusional in that I had no idea how much work writing a blog on a regular basis would be. As for this blog making money, I definitely will not be quitting my day job, or my night job for that matter, anytime soon.

My first exposure to all things psychological was, like many of you, a few classes in psychology. It was the sixties after all. I have since learned that psychology, the kind we study in high school or most colleges is only a distant relative of counseling and recovery. Clinical Psychology, that takes 6 years of college for a Ph.D. and then you can start looking for the answers to why life is the way it is.

My first exposure to counseling and therapy was as a client. I discovered school counselors could tell me what classes to take if I wanted to make the big bucks but none of them seemed to know how to be happy along the way. Eventually, I ended up seeing some therapists. I discovered that there were helpful therapists and unhelpful therapists.

Becoming a therapist was not in my original plan. I took the classes and became a Drug and alcohol counselor. Along the way, I learned a few things. One was that there was a lot of wisdom in those 12 step programs. The other was that my AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) clients all had families. If I wanted to be helpful to those families, especially the children and the significant others, then I needed more training.

Next stop was the classes in how to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. Originally here in California, this was called a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. Marriage in this context means any two or more people who have a close, primary, usually sexual, relationship.

Over the years of trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grow up, I discovered that having a job or at least a purpose in life was an immense part of being happy. The answer to the who and what question I am still working on, but at least now I know something about the how of being happy.

To help people with their job issues and substance use issues took me in the direction of Professional Clinician Counseling and today I have that license also. From there I drifted, more like jumped, into teaching and supervising other counselors and therapists. So now you know a little bit about me. More is on my “about me” page.

But I still haven’t told you “Why a blog named counselorssoapbox?”

Throughout my process of becoming a professional in this field I kept thinking about those times I had sat on the other side of the desk and what I had experienced. I decided I did not ever want to forget what it was like to be on the client side of the room.

In graduate school, they explained a lot of stuff to us but honestly, I did not feel like some of these professionals I had seen had explained things to me in the way they were supposed to be explained. I asked about confidentiality and never seemed to get a straight answer.

Therapists were often good listeners but if they knew the answers to the “how to have a happy life question” they wanted me to suffer through the process of finding them myself and they flat resisted giving me any answers to these questions.

Counselorssoapbox started off as a way for me to express my opinions about what worked and what didn’t in the therapy world. I wanted to demystify the therapy process and explain what I had learned. Those times I got a reader question and didn’t have the answer took me back to reading the research and looking for more ideas. Writing a blog meant I needed to keep reading, studying and living wellness and recovery. So I just took it one post at a time.

What quickly happened was you readers prodded me in a few directions. Counselorssoapbox received a lot of questions about the safety of counseling, confidentiality and what gets reported. I was surprised at the number of search terms that involved counselors having sex with clients. So I put up a link to the publication “Professional Counseling Never Includes Sex.”  That post and the link keep getting hits so there remains an interest in this topic.

There has also been some interest in particular diagnoses and their treatment. While I can’t do therapy by blog post I have tried to provide general information on mental health and illness. All sorts of how to have a happy, productive, successful life posts find their way onto the blog also. Whatever tips on having the best life possible I come across I try to share.

There you have it. The answers to the questions who is this David Joel Miller and why a blog called counselorssoapbox.

What’s next? I continue to work on some books, both fiction and nonfiction and I write more blog posts looking for all the things that seem worthy of sharing with you. So if there are questions or comments related to the fields of substance use disorders, mental health, and wellness or living a happy life, send them along. I will do my best to answer questions or send you to someone who can. Comments and information from you or others gets shared here also.

If you read this far an extra thanks. Talk with you again soon.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Family Counseling for Family Problems

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Family

Family.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can counseling help family issues?

Every family has some family problems soon or later. Some of these family problems are more serious than others. Most families try to work out their family issues without help from professionals. If you have tried the usual ways of dealing with or avoiding the problems in your family and those problems continue to cause you problems, now might be a good time to think about some family therapy.

Families may have difficulties that are unique, at least in the specifics, but there are some common issues that bring families to counseling. Here is a list of some of the more common family problems that might benefit from seeing a counselor.

You have old personal issues that need to be dealt with.

In the rosy glow of a new relationship, you may think that now your life will be better, your problems are solved. What most couples find is that it takes two mentally and emotionally healthy people to make for a healthy relationship.

If one or both of the members of this couple have unresolved life problems, they are on their way to creating an unhealthy relationship. People with serious mental illnesses can get together and develop a great relationship, but one requisite for that is that each of those two people need to work on themselves and their problem.

If one of you has “anger issues” or a substance use problem, that old issue is sure to move from being one party’s problems to being a family problem.

Trouble untying the knots to their family of origin and creating a new family.

Creating a new family unit requires navigating the sea of changing relationships from being a child in one family to being the adult in another family. Some parents find it hard to let loose of their married children. Some people, new in a relationship, keep pulling their past family into the mix.

Calling your parents or your siblings, even your friends, to discuss every piece of your couple’s relationship is likely to create a cluttered and uncomfortable relationship.

Cultures and families are or different. Some stay close forever and some quickly separate and become independent adults. If you and your partner are not in agreement on the role of parents and relatives in your new family this can create tremendous friction.

When disagreements and family problems arise, running to your family for advice and consolation can create the situation of alliances. Once you complain to your family about your new spouse you have poisoned the relationship. Do not expect to tell others your partners faults and then for them forgive them when you do.

Arguments over whose family to involve in holiday celebrations and which family’s routines and rituals to adopt are common family relationship problems.

You are not on the same page about where your family is going.

In new relationships, there are lots of expectations. There is generally a raft of things you forget to question or discuss. If religion is important to one member of the new couple, how does the other person feel? This is rarely something that will just work itself out as time goes on. Add children and the conflict grows.

If one person is a drinker or a drug user and the other person is in recovery this becomes a huge issue. Are you two in agreement about the role partying and drinking will play in your couple’s life? If one of you quit will the other quit also or will they sabotage your recovery to enable their continued use of a substance of abuse.

Your love fantasy can’t stand reality.

When you first fall in love you tend to idealize your new partner. The man is Prince Charming the woman is Cinderella. That all fades as the magic dust wears off.

Prince Charming turns into the troll and Cinderella becomes the ugly stepsister. If you had an unrealistic expectation of your partner and of what family life with them would be like, you are headed for trouble.

Stressful times cause family issues.

Life is full of stress. Being a family can make for more stress not less. Sharing the burden can lighten the load, but the load gets heavy the longer you carry it. What will happen to your relationship when life drops its stress on your couple relationship?

Unemployment, sickness, economic hardship are all likely in life. Some days are good ones and some are not.

Lifespan events magnify family problems.

Certain events happen whether you are prepared for them or not. Couples have children and the children grow and change. Or you plan on children and they do not materialize. Jobs come and go. You grow older. What used to be fun isn’t anymore. Then one day you begin to face growing older. The children leave the nest and you wonder what happened to the person you married. What happened to you?

Creating a family ended the couple.

Some couples discover that in the process of creating a family they lost the relationship between them. The years go by and if you do not work on being a couple you may find that you have nothing left once the children leave.

Some people compensate for this by trying to stay a part of their children’s lives. They can become the over-involved meddling parents that caused them problems early on. Other people separate or divorce. With no children left they can’t find anything they still have in common.

Baggage and Blending create family problems.

So you get together and you break up and then you get together again? In this process rather than reducing your pile of problems, you may well increase them.

Certainly, there are great second marriages. But each partner comes with a set of problems and changing partners does not eliminate your problems, it just offers you more issues to work on.

Now you have not just yours, mine and ours, problems, but also exes and their new spouse problems along with step and half, and so on family issues.

If these or other family problems are distressing you and your family consider getting professional help. An independent third person in the room can facilitate talking through and resolving your family issues. Marriage and Family therapists are specially trained in working to help families create their happy life.

Does your family have family problems you need to work through?

For more posts on Family issues see:  Family Problems

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Reasons Marriage Counseling will not help you

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are there reasons to avoid Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling can save your marriage. It can also hasten the end to that relationship. I see many couples who have used marriage counseling to strengthen and improve their relationship. There are also those couples, up to half of all couples who attend couples counseling, who end up divorcing soon after the marriage counseling experience.

How can you tell if you are one of those couples that can be helped by marriage counseling or if you are one of those couples were attending a counseling session might end your relationship?

Here are reasons some people need to avoid marriage counseling.

1. You want the Marriage Counselor to decide who is right and who is wrong.

Specifically, you want the therapist to tell your partner that they are the one causing the problem.

If you want a right and wrong decision, see a judge for the divorce. Couplehood is a partnership. To be effective the counselor needs to stay neutral and rather than solving problems for you, they need to help you learn ways to resolve these disagreements in a more positive way.

2. You want the counselor to change your partner.

Change is an inside job. Changing a relationship requires the people involved to each work on changing themselves.

3. You have already decided to divorce and you want to prove that you did all you can to save the marriage.

A significant number of clients come to the first therapy session already having decided that they want a divorce. They want to be able to say to their friends and family that they did all they could. The truth is they didn’t want to fix or save this relationship.

If you already have your stuff packed and plan to move on no matter what happens in therapy, going for marriage counseling is just one more trial that you will need to get over to start your new life.

Counseling can be helpful when both parties know that this is coming and they are trying to work out some end of relationship issues, like co-parenting.

Counselors can and do work in the area of divorce counseling. But before you turn your marriage counseling session into negotiating a divorce talk to the lawyer types first.

4. You are making your partner go so you can punish them for their misdeeds.

The couple shows up for counseling often at the insistence of one partner who has demanded that they attend counseling as a condition of staying together. This can work if both parties are committed to changing themselves and things in their relationship.

What will not work is to inflict X sessions of therapy in which one partner beats the other up over the “guilty” person’s transgressions.

If there was an affair you can work on the reasons it happened in the first place or how to rebuild the relationship and trust. What is not helpful is just to use counseling as a way to flog the affair partner for their misdeeds.

An ordeal in the therapy room results in more resentments in the relationship and addition problems in the future.

5. You expect everything to happen in the sessions and are opposed to doing any “homework” outside of sessions.

Relationships need maintenance. Sometimes in sessions, you can get some of the “garbage” out. You can also learn some new ideal relationship skills.

What you are likely to hear in the couples counseling session is that relationships take work. You need to make repair efforts when things go wrong and there is work to do to maintain a relationship.

Expect that your convalescent period for an ailing relationship will include homework and skills practice you need to do outside the counseling session.

A good marriage counselor will make suggestions and may well suggest some homework assignments outside of session. Do not expect your therapist to do all the work. You need to practice good relationship skills between sessions.

6. There are topics that are off-limits and you are unwilling to talk about.

Couples come to therapy saying they have poor “communication” and they want to learn to communicate better. The next part of this conversation is that there are topics they do not want to talk about.

Some topics probably should be off the table. You like coffee and your partner is a tea drinker. You can share and each try the others beverage or you can fight forever over who is right. Some disagreements have no resolution and it is a waste of time to continue to fight over things for which there is no solution.

The off the table topics that cause relationship counseling to be unproductive are the big issues that stand in the way of having a good relationship.

Additions, drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, pornography, those things undermine any relationship. So you come to couples counseling and say you want to communicate better, only he won’t talk about his drinking and she won’t discuss her affair.

Is this situation likely to get better? Not unless the unresolved issues get handled. That resolution could be he stops drinking or tries to anyway. It could also be that she just has to accept she married an alcoholic and accept that if she wants to stay married. Either way, the topic can’t be off the table if they want this relationship to get better.

7. You expect your partner to do all the work and make all the changes.

A relationship involves people, more than one, so any real change in your relationship will involve both of you making changes. If you think that your partner changing will solve all the problems consider that each year we see a great many people who divorce and remarry.

Before long those new relationships are fighting and there may be second, and third divorces.

Pick a partner and you get a set of problems. Learn problem-solving in your relationship, not problem switching.

8. Your relationship is not worth the cost of marriage counseling.

Marriage counseling is often not covered by insurance. If you are mentally ill your medical insurance should cover treatment. But if you are unhappy do not expect the insurance company to pay for dating services or marriage counseling.

A lot of people who spend a great amount of time complaining about their relationship are unwilling to spend money to work through their conflicts.

Before you say you can’t afford couples counseling, consider that the average couples come in about six times. The cost of six or even twelve sessions with most therapists would not equal the cost of the retainer for the divorce lawyer.

How much is it worth to you to end your relationship? How much might it be worth to transform the relationship you have into the one you would like?

9. You already have a replacement partner lined up.

If you already have a new partner waiting in the wings. Not much rational thinking takes place in the early stages of love. After six to eighteen months the love neurochemicals wear off. At that point, you will discover that this new partner is a lot less perfect than you thought. But while you are in the throes of a new love it is hard to see the good things you are leaving behind.

If you can’t give yourself a year or two to try to work out the problems in the current relationship – well then you will get to do the work later.

Marriage or relationship counseling can be very helpful in transforming a relationship into the one you want. But if you go into relationship counseling with any of the 9 problems listed above your are not likely to get much help from being in couples therapy and the therapy may well leave you with one extra “relationship trauma” to deal with after your relationship ends.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Affairs, Pornography Addiction, Sexual and Internet Addiction Posts

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

The effects of affairs, pornography and sexual addiction on couples.

Couple not talking

Couple’s problems.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Here are some of the recent posts on the effects of affairs, pornography and sexual addiction on couples. Topics covered include making the decision to stay or go, how to repair the relationship and when and how professionals can help in mending relationships touched by these problems.

The internet is making it harder to define all the things that may be damaging relationships. Cybersex and virtual affairs are becoming destructive of relationships in the same way real life meeting-up affairs.

Despite the suffering, these problems cause most are not yet recognized as specific diagnosable illnesses. Most are very close to being a behavioral addiction but to date, only one behavioral addiction (gambling) is recognized as a specific mental illness.

Here are the posts so far – more to come

5 Misconceptions about the causes of affairs

Does an affair mean you should divorce?

Are internet affairs real affairs?

Internet affairs

Internet affairs? Internet addiction?

10 Rules for recovery after an affair

5 ways the Internet may destroy your relationship

Grieving bad relationships? Why men fear marriage counseling

Length of time together in failed relationships or marriages

Is he internet addicted 

(Some of these posts are scheduled to appear in the future so if the link does not work please check the list of recent posts or let me know and I will fix the links as the posts publish.)

Feel free to leave comments on these posts or send me a note via the “contact me” feature. I can’t do relationships counseling here via blog or the internet. That is not what this blog was designed for, but I will try to answer questions as I can and where possible tell you about other resources. If you know of resources out there that might be helpful then please let the rest of us know.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.