Finding a marriage counselor who can help.

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

Old car

Getting better marriage mileage.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you select a marriage counselor?

Picking the right counselor for you can be difficult when you are dealing with your issues, but in couples counseling, there are added factors to consider.

The heat of the conflict between two people can make the whole process of agreeing to see a marriage therapist difficult, selecting that helping person, can take some effort at negotiation also. Here are some suggestions.

Make the counselor choice when both of you are feeling calm.

The middle of a fight may be the time one of you says for the first time “We need to go for counseling.” This might be the time to agree that you will go but it is not the best of times to make that selection.

Plan a time to sit down and discuss the selection process when you both are feeling less angry.

If your partner feels forced or manipulated into seeing a counselor you have chosen they are likely to be resistant to the process.

Don’t keep putting the problem off because some days things go better.

If you are having relationship problems the sooner you begin to work on these problems the more likely you are to find solutions that will work for both of you. Too often couples wait until the wreckage of repeated fights leaves them both convinced that even if the situation changes they still would want out of this relationship.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. When you are having that rough patch one of you may be thinking the worst. The times that you are able to talk with each other rationally are the best time to make progress.

Relationship counseling does not always need to be a long-drawn-out process. If you both approach it with the desire to work out your problems things may improve more quickly than you expect. Sometimes it is a matter of learning new skills or getting another perspective.

Don’t go to counseling to prove who is right or wrong.

A good marriage counselor will not solve the problems for you. They should never take sides. You will waste lots of time and money trying to be right and the result will be that both parties will leave the relationship angry and bitter.

Figuring out who is right is the job of a judge when you go to end the marriage. If you are stuck on making your partner the cause of the problems then you can’t focus on the solution.

The goal of counseling should be to find common ground, things you can agree on.

Repairing the damage is far more important than beating your partner into submission. Couples who stay together learn to see things from their partner’s viewpoint rather than becoming good at making that partner wrong.

Pick a counselor you both think can help you.

The best predictor of success in therapy is the client’s belief that the counselor can help. Pick someone you both feel will be helpful. If you don’t know a marriage counselor research those in your area. Some people travel long distances to see a really good therapist.

It is perfectly acceptable to interview the counselor when you call. Make sure you also feel comfortable with the office staff; can you call and reschedule an appointment? Is the receptionist helpful? Do they return calls?

How does this therapist help couples?

Some professionals believe every couple who comes for therapy should stay married; they may call themselves divorce busters. Other professionals may recommend divorce to a high percentage of their clients.

There was a time when therapists mainly listened to you without comment. Is that what you want? Other practitioners are more directive, they do exercises or activities in session, have you rehearse skills, and assign homework for you to do out of session. Which approach sounds most helpful to you?

Be honest with the therapist and yourself.

If you have decided you want a divorce but have been afraid to say so being in the room with a neutral mediator may help.

If your choice is to stay married? What are you willing to change about yourself to make this work? There are ways to influence your partner (see getting others to change post) but the fastest way to see things improve is often to change yourself. Changing you may require giving up that resentment you use over and over to beat your partner into submission.

Many couples come in unsure if they want to stay together. They know there are things about their partner that drew them together and things that are pushing them apart. One day they want to stay married and the next they think it is over. In couples like this, the “leaver” and the “stayer” may shift back and forth from day-to-day.

What do you think? If you have been for marriage counseling what was helpful and what was not?

For more on this topic also see:

Why men fear marriage counseling 

Will marriage Counseling help

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

7 places to avoid when looking for dates – Dave’s Dating Tips

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

Comment

Bad neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Places you should never go to find a date

People with a mental health challenge or who are in recovery, want, and need a close loving relationship just as much as anyone else. Sometimes in our search for a close partner, we look in all the wrong places. Here are a few of the places clients told me they found dates that I need to warn you about.

When people are sick they tend to attract sick people. Now two people with disabilities can be a great match and a great support system for each other. Just makes sure you and your potential partner are headed in the direction of recovery, not continued sickness.

Here are 7 places to avoid when looking for dates. There are good places to look; only these are NOT those good places.

1. Do not hang out around the V. D. clinic waiting for the easy ones.

When you pick a partner you pick a set of problems, different partner different set of problems. Try to avoid partners with incurable diseases. Remember when you sleep with a partner you are sleeping with all their ex’s. People with a history of sexual problems are likely to continue to have those problems. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but is this one you want to take a chance on?

2. Avoid crack houses or bars

Lots of people with an alcoholic ex get a divorce, and then their friends take them out to celebrate at — you guessed it – a bar. They meet someone; fall in love, only to discover that the new partner is — an alcoholic. People active in their addiction don’t have a place in their life for a new healthy partner. They are looking for someone who will enable them to keep drinking and using. People with an addiction are likely to be found in their natural habitat.

3. Don’t wait outside prisons for people with gate money.

Now if this is your old man or old woman getting out, that might be an exception. People do change, but give them time to find a job and a place to live before you sign on to put money on their books the next time they are away.

4. Homeless shelters are not prime dating spots

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. People are ending up homeless that never thought they would, but if you are cruising this kind of place for a date what does that say about you? Does the word predator come to mind?

5. Don’t try to pick people up while at the psychiatric hospital

This is not the time or place to start a relationship. You both need to work on you. Actually, come to think of it I know some people who met in a psychiatric facility and made a go of the relationship, but they didn’t hook up on the first hospitalization. Work on getting better first.

6. Avoid people who left domestic violence court and can’t go home because of the restraining order.

Just like some people keep hooking up with alcoholics or drug addicts there are people who keep being attracted to the strong forceful type. Then they are surprised when the relationship turns violent. If you were abused as a child or are just out of an abusive relationship be especially alert for this type of repeating pattern.

7. Avoid people with a lot of babies daddies or babies mothers.

Be especially cautious if the person you meet seems to have more children’s parents than they have children. Can’t tell you exactly where to find this sort of person but you will know then when you see them because there are just so many places they can’t go for fear of running into an ex.

So there are Dave’s 7 places to avoid when looking for people to date. Any of you have any other places you would care to add to this list? Any of you that found a great place to meet people to date that actually worked out and you would care to share?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Love triangles and threesomes

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

Couple’s relationship with alcohol.
Photo courtesy of pixabay

Are you in a love triangle?

Those old love triangles are the stuff novels are made of and I expected to see a lot of them in the work I do as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Threesomes and triangles conjure up different images but the issues that turn up in the counseling session are very similar. One particular variety of this theme is especially common in my counseling practice.

The classic love triangle has love flowing around the outline but not back in the direction it came from. Usually, this is two people in a relationship when one decides they would prefer to be in another relationship. If they are married, or they have children this gets messy. The worst part of these affairs is when one partner wants out and the other wants to save the relationship. Often there are a lot of hurt feelings and when these relationships end there can be violence, depression, or self-harm. This is common but it is not the relationship with three parties I see most often.

The relationship that jumps to mind when we say threesome is more like three people involved in sex or a close love relationship presumably with the knowledge and consent of all the parties involved. I can’t tell you if this is a particularly common occurrence as I don’t do research on sexual practices but when it does lead someone to counseling, it is usually because it did not turn out to be all fun and games. When these relationships fall apart there are likely to be three or more hurt people. But this is far from the most common three-way relationship I see in counseling.

The most common threesome type relationship that drives clients to counseling involves two people, sex or sexual orientation doesn’t matter here.  What does matter is that one of the parties has introduced another love object into the relationship? That love object is far and away most likely to be some form of addiction.

Falling in love with a drug.

Sherry or Jack or Bud is likely to be a constant visitor in many a relationship. Men and woman will forsake their partners to be with Crystal or Crack. And members of both sexes are likely to fall head over heels for lady luck. Addictions of all sorts become a part of a couple’s love relationships on a very frequent basis.

Some partners try to compete with the addictions intrusion in the relationship. Clearly, over time the formerly loving partner becomes alienated by the new-found love interest. Who can compete with the wiles of Ethel-nol? As the struggle for attention increases, all sorts of family dysfunction become the norm.

Many a couple has thought that the way to tame an alluring addiction is to invite them into the relationship. Turn your partner’s new love addiction into a family affair and make it a threesome. This works for a while. Life is a party that seems to never end. An addiction, whether Crystal or lady luck, is a jealous mistress and eventually she takes over and turns the whole family into her servants.

Addiction stays to console the addict long after the family, loved ones; job, and health have abandoned the house. Many an addict has given up their house to stay with their addiction.

By the time the unwary couple calls the counselor seeking treatment both partners, the relationship, jobs, and children will have been destroyed.

When addiction has become a part of the love triangle the only cure is a full divorce from the addiction before all is destroyed. Unfortunately, by the time the addict, alcoholic, or gambler leaves their best friend, their addiction, the damage may have reached the irreversible point.

The moral of our tale is that when addiction is a part of a relationship there is not much left for anyone else. The earlier you seek treatment because you are in love with an addiction the better. If someone you love has fallen head over heels for an addiction insist they end this affair before everyone suffers.

Seek help early if addiction is a participant in your relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Why relationships fail – two large reasons

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

Couple drinking

Couple’s relationship with alcohol.
Photo courtesy of pixabay

Two major causes are responsible for the majority of failed relationships.

Most of the research in this area has been done by Marriage or Couples Counselors but the results of these insights are applicable to other relationships, particularly the relationship between boss and employee. The major reason for relationship failure turns out not to be the thing we most expect.

Conflicted relationships fail and they often end early.

We expect couples who fight a lot to have a bad relationship and for the relationship to fail. That does happen – sometimes but not as often as you would think.

Relationships with lots of negativity, constant conflict are likely to end fairly soon. Gottman has done a lot of research in this area and he tells us that these relationships commonly end in the first seven years, with an average length of just over five years. These relationships are easy to spot lots of obvious arguing and fights. Sometimes there is violence. The police in every town know where these couples live.

After a few years of non-stop conflict these couples part. Often they are still angry with each other and they may have to make the exchanges of the children at a supervised site.

Sadly what often happens is both parties get into new relationships and they discover that the second or eighth time is no better than the first. Gottman tells us based on his research that almost 70% of fights are about things for which there is no solution. She likes green tea and he wants black or it could be religion, politics, or any other area of preference. Much less often a couple disagrees about something where they might be able to work out a solution that makes them both happy.

In other relationships, like jobs and friendships, people who have these kinds of conflicts quit jobs, get fired, or don’t stay around long. Sometimes they have an employment history of lots of short-term jobs. They may also have an arrest record for domestic violence or bar fights. They are also likely to have over-close friendships followed by a complete rupture of that relationship.

Getting into hugely negative conflicts is not the same as being assertive though some people confuse getting there way and giving in with being assertive or being victimized.

As dramatic as unrestrained conflict may be it is not the major reason that marriages fail. It is also not, in my experience, the reason productive employees leave companies or that long-term friendships end. There is a bigger cause of failed relationships.

Relationships without love, friendship, or caring take longer to fail but eventually these couples pull apart.

In these couples, there is nothing positive between them. They have no fun together and often prefer to live the majority of their lives apart. Now I know that there was a time that couples like this stayed together till death do them part, but that was a long time ago.

Couples in these kinds of relationships describe themselves as feeling “dead.” There is nothing that the couple has in common and eventually, the relationship ends. In the workplace, these relationships are devoid of positive regard for the other party. The only things the employee hears from the boss are the complaints and the errors. The only time the employee seeks out the boss is when they have a grievance. Neither may enjoy coming to work anymore. They forget to ever have anything positive to say about each other or about the goal their organization is pursuing.

So often couples start out the relationship describing themselves as best friends, somewhere along the way they forget that the best of friendships require work and they require shared experiences. These couples are especially prone to the “empty nest syndrome” or the “we only stayed together for the sake of the kids.” Eventually, the kids grow up and move out on their own and this couple is stuck with each other. Sometimes they are able to recreate a positive relationship but often there are no feelings left to build on.

These are not the couples who are content with each other and who are comfortable whether alone or together. They are the couples who hate to be together. There is always tension in the air if they are both in the same room but the discomfort never erupts into overt hostilities. In these relationships, neither partner makes an effort to consider the other and you will never see one comfort the other in times of pain. These are empty and uncaring couples.

So there you have it, two kinds of relationships that end on the rocks. The openly hostile violent relationships may end first but the hidden dislike eventually takes its toll. Just avoiding fights is not a solution to relationship failure. Creating more positive experiences together than negative ones is the safest route to keeping the relationship intact and healthy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Healthy relationships

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

Couple

Relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Searching for happiness.

Type into a search engine almost any term about happiness or relationships and you find a whole lot of links to dating sites right at the top. Those dot com places, you know the ones I mean, make it sound like the only relationship that matters is a romantic partner one, and if you don’t have one you are somehow incomplete and unhealthy.

Most of the articles on these sites are about how to attract a partner. How to do the right things say the right things and wear the right things to be desirable. The inference here is that if you just got someone to be your partner you would be happy. If selling sex wasn’t illegal in most places I think they would flat do that also. Some get awfully close to selling relationships. So with so many people hooking up for more or less time, why are so many people so unhappy? Is a romantic partner relationship really the only one that matters?

Why do so many people in unhappy marriages divorce and remarry, only to be unhappy again? Because they never learned that happiness was inside and unhappiness was everywhere. That does not mean that sometimes relationships need to end or that having had one bad relationship you should never try again. It does mean that you need to learn to be healthy and happy or you won’t be able to be in a healthy happy relationship. Two mentally unhealthy people do not make for a healthy relationship.

People with some pretty extreme disabilities can and do have great healthy relationships. Schizophrenics who have a supportive person living with them are about half as likely to end up back in the hospital. Just be sure you are together because you both can contribute to the relationship.

So where do you start to have a great relationship? I suggest first try getting to be your own best friend, which is not an excuse for self-centeredness. I often ask clients if they would want themselves as a friend. Clients with deep depression or lots of anxiety usually say no. In fact, I continue to be surprised by how many people would not want themselves for a best friend.

If you sell someone something you would not buy yourself we think you are a lot dishonest. So how could you possibly get someone to be your friend if you wouldn’t want to be a friend to that kind of person? Now please do not give up here and say it is hopeless. Lots of mothers bring in their children and want me to change them. People in unhappy relationships come in and want us to change their partner. How about doing the remodeling program on yourself first?

Can you believe there are people who have been married to not one but two or three alcoholics? After a lot of pain and suffering, they get out of their relationship. They decide to get back out there, they go out for a night on the town with some friends and they meet a new romantic interest. Then what happens? That person, the one they met in the bar, guess what? They turn out to be an alcoholic also.

Women who have been abused and men also, often find they get into a new relationship and that person is abusive. Why?

Because unless we take the time to look at ourselves we keep being attracted to the same dysfunctional types. If you keep hooking up with drug addicts, you either need to change whom you are attracted to or get yourself a drug addict with fifteen or twenty years clean and sober.

Think back to a time in your life you met a new friend. You wanted to know all about them. Didn’t you? Why is it that my clients can tell me all about their significant other and their kids and often their parents but they have no answers to questions about themselves?

Ever heard the saying that beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone? Despite the fact that what is inside counts, far more than you may think, most people think that the way to be more attractive is to lose weight or change their look. Attractive people go through messy painful divorces also. Most women are surprised to find out that a happy smiling woman is a lot more attractive than an angry hostile one, regardless of their figure and their “look.”

Before I leave this topic, for now, I need to remind you that good relationships include the way in which you relate to your children, your parents, your boss, and sometimes even your ex.

The take away from this? Before you are likely to be happy in a romantic relationship you need to learn to be happy with yourself and then learn to be happy in those relationships with family and friends you already have. Only after you have learned to master these challenges are you likely to be successful at having a happy romantic relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel