That’s one of the first questions people ask me when they call about marriage counseling.
The answer is: It depends. Can you both answer ‘yes’ to these questions?
(1) Are you committed to learning healthy relationship skills?
(2) Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for stopping your destructive behaviors?
(3) Are you willing to stop blaming your partner as a way to avoid examining yourself?
Obviously, the answer to these questions may vary from day to day. You’re only human. But the good news is that if you can answer mostly “yes” to these questions … while I can’t guarantee anything … I predict that you will be able to co-create a flourishing marriage.
Maybe you don’t know what you are doing that hurts your marriage. That’s entirely possible.
Most of us didn’t get a college degree in “Marriage.” Most of us didn’t even have a “Marriage 101” course. Most of us didn’t get in-depth pre-marital counseling because we were so excited about making wedding plans. It’s part of my job to help you learn what makes marriage work and what destroys it.
After the honeymoon phase, couples inevitably encounter conflicts. If not handled skillfully, emotional wounds mount up. In the USA, divorce rates hover around 50% for first-time marriages. Rates increase by 67% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages.* The average couple waits six years to come to counseling.
Clearly, divorce is not the only answer to our national problem. Couples can avoid a lot of suffering by learning how to build a solid healthy happy relationship.
1. I hate conflict. Why can’t we just be happy?
2. I know I shouldn’t be critical, but I can’t stop myself sometimes.
3. When we’re distant, I don’t know how to repair our loving connection.
4. My partner doesn’t understand me. I want to feel cherished.
5. I want to feel emotionally connected before and during sex.
6. It’s hard to find time for us. I wish we had more fun together.
7. There’s been an emotional or sexual affair.
Lots of couples experience problems. It’s actually pretty common. Dr. John Gottman found in his research …
• Half of all divorces occur in the first 7 years.
• In unhappy marriages, there is a 35% chance of contracting a serious illness.
• People in unhealthy marriages shorten their life span by 4 years.
• For happily married couples, 69% of their problems are perpetual conflicts, but they learn how to live with them and create win-win solutions.
Interesting, hey? We don’t have to get rid of conflicts to have a happy marriage. Wow!
Dr. John Gottman researched marriage for 40 years, and discovered a surprising fact.**
Anger is not bad for relationships. Happy couples are as frequently angry as unhappy couples. How destructive they become determines the health of the marriage. Gottman even says that anger is functional in marriage. But when couples use four behaviors that Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” without an effective repair attempt, couples divorce an average of 5.6 years after the wedding.
The good news is:
Even after an affair, 73% of marriages are saved with Gottman Couple Therapy Method. When there’s not been an affair, results are even higher. 90% of couples show significant improvement.
Click here to watch a TV interview where I explain “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” the four behaviors Dr. Gottman found that destroy marriage.
Click here for a one-minute video introduction to my work.
If you’re looking for Marriage Counseling, Couples Counseling or Pre-marital Counseling, please contact me for a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted interview to see if we are a good fit.
Click here to learn about marriage enrichment workshops, the annual Valentine’s Retreat, and Private Couples Retreats.
Benita A Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor
Offices in Atlanta and Blairsville, Georgia
* Statistics reported in Psychology Today 2012.
** The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. John Gottman, PhD