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Marriage and Couples Therapy

Many would agree there is nothing more important than love. And when we truly feel love and connection with our partner, it seems that every possibility is available to us. After individual therapy, the most common type of work I do is helping couples to reconnect with the relationship they once had or to achieve the relationship they’ve always wanted.

marriage therapist san jose

Improving a marriage, or any relationship, takes time and effort.

In the Beginning…

Most relationships begin blissfully enough. We feel euphoric, high on life, often as if we can do no wrong. But as we all know, life is filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys, pleasure and pain. Relationships are no exception. Unfortunately, most people spend more time planning their wedding ceremony or their next vacation than focusing on what makes their relationship work and grow. But open communication and planning are integral to not only making a relationship last, but to keeping the love and excitement alive through the years. Couples counseling and pre-wedding counseling can be invaluable for creating the relationship you desire and keeping it strong into the future. Like other types of prevention, the best way to stop problems and issues from arising is to be proactive. And asking the tough questions — acknowledging where and what types of problems might arise before they do — can be the key to a lifetime of love and happiness.

How To Solve Marriage Problems – Marriage Counseling Success

Some people may feel that if you need counseling before marriage you probably shouldn’t be considering marriage in the first place. But to me, this seems shortsighted and a lot like saying there’s no need to see a doctor for a physical exam until you know you’re really sick. [pullquote] What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

– Leo Tolstoy

[/pullquote] Doesn’t it make more sense to diagnose potential marriage issues before they arise rather than waiting until unidentified problems grow severe enough that you need to seek marriage counseling for infidelity or some other serious conflict? Additionally, skills learned in pre-marital therapy may help you not only resolve some current concerns but also launch you and your marriage onto a wonderful path of health and happiness.

Is Couples Therapy Ever Too Late?

Many couples seek counseling for marriage difficulties only once they’ve reached the point where their marriage is on the verge of collapse.[pullquote]You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

– Maya Angelou

[/pullquote]In such circumstances, you and your spouse will need to determine if resolving the conflict in your marriage is something you both want to achieve and are willing to do the work necessary. Resolving conflict and marriage disputes is not easy work, but if you both care about each other, it is worth the effort — and it’s not too late. A good marriage therapist’s job is to help you rekindle that love and to harness the energy needed to get past anger and resentments.   But, and I don’t like to highlight this point, even if you decide the issues and problems in your marriage are too numerous to be resolved, counseling may be helpful in facilitating an amicable and respectful parting.

Couples Counseling Strategies

If you’re interested in the how-to’s of couples counseling, keep in mind that therapists have studied for years and so some concepts may be difficult to explain in a short synopsis. But to give you some idea, I’ll provide the names of some of the treatment modalities or guiding principles I use.[pullquote]Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”

– Kahlil Gibran

[/pullquote]The best model I’ve found to work from is the work of Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt. This form of couples counseling is known as Imago Therapy, and I’m well- trained and certified as a treatment provider. Imago therapy provides a means by which a couple can communicate effectively, feel safe, and at the same time heal from some of their own individual psychological wounds when needed.   I also really appreciate the developmental model provided by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson at the Couples Institute. They’ve developed the idea that couples go through stages in their relationship, and they have a body of work for how to assist couples in navigating difficulties in those stages. Finally, there is the excellent research and therapy of John Gottman, a pioneer in discovering those common characteristics of failing relationships and what to do differently in order to save your marriage.

Setting Proper Expectations for Couples Counseling

Many people seek couples counseling or family therapy thinking that if only the other person would change, everything would be okay. However, no matter how much we might like to believe otherwise, we can never change another person. We can only change ourselves. Change is not something that can successfully be forced upon someone else, and trying to do so gets couples into trouble all the time.[pullquote]The most important thing in life is to learn how to give love, and to let it come in.”

– Morrie Schwartz

[/pullquote]If you and your significant other are serious about change — if you believe therapy might benefit your relationship — then please don’t hesitate to seek that help.   The positive growth and change that psychotherapy can facilitate may seem limitless once the work is begun and the lines of communication are open to share the love you have and desire.

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(408) 582-2121


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