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Marriage, Relationship or Divorce Problems

Marriage Counseling with a Qualified Marriage and Family Therapist

Choosing the right partner in life may be one of the biggest and most significant decisions you will make in your lifetime. The quality of the relationship between you and your partner can impact your happiness and your level of trust, commitment, respect, support, passion and sexual desire for one another. Seeking marriage counseling assistance may be an option. Ninety percent of Americans marry, but fifty percent of those marriages end in divorce. In fact, the average marriage in California lasts just seven years. Seventy-five percent of those who divorce, remarry, but sixty-five percent of those marriages also end in divorce. The best way to ensure that you and your partner beat the odds and have a long, satisfying marriage is to explore all personal and marital issues and get the skills and training you need together, before you marry. It is important to seek pre-marital counseling to discuss mutual expectations, cultural and religious differences, lifestyle and feelings about children before you marry, not after. Pre-marital counseling with a professional marriage counselor can help you chart the course.

When you and your partner should seek pre-marital counseling

  • When you are young and have never been married.
  • When you have been too long in a courtship, been engaged for more than nine years, or plan on marrying but haven't, it's time to understand what may be delaying the marriage.
  • When one partner is "commitment-phobic." Find out what lies at the root of the fear so you can move forward in your relationship, or move on.
  • If you have constant disagreement about issues related to money, children, chores, work, sex or a host of other things. Now is the time to learn how to address differences.
  • When you have been unsuccessful at a marriage and want to try again. Every happy, successful couple has as many as 10 areas of "irreconcilable differences," but they accept and respect them as part of their relationship.

But what if you've tied the knot and pre-marital counseling is no longer an option? If you are already married and either never received pre-marital counseling or feel that your marriage is still in need of professional marriage counseling guidance, then we encourage you to read the following information and ask yourself these questions:

Is your marriage heading towards divorce?

  • You no longer attend social events together
  • Family gatherings are limited
  • You experience diminished sexual activity or no sexual activity
  • You do not spend much time together
  • You do not sleep in the same bed
  • One or both of you is having an affair
  • You and your spouse have frequent arguments
  • There is a loss of interest in maintaining the marriage
  • It feels as if you and your spouse have grown completely apart
  • You harvest resentment towards your partner
  • If you've had recurring thoughts about separation or divorce

How can you help save your marriage right now?

  • Find a marriage and family therapist
  • Make a conscious decision to put in the effort
  • Start openly and honestly communicating with your partner about your feelings
  • Give compliments to one another
  • Don't bring up mistakes of the past
  • Forgive one another
  • Don't go to bed when you are fighting
  • Don't let your children run your marriage
  • Take time for each other
  • Jointly decide what you both want your marriage to look like

How can a marriage and family therapist help? Marriage and family therapists are relationship experts. They help couples uncover and effectively communicate about conflicts and issues that are impacting their marriage, teach the tools and skills needed to manage and salvage their relationship, like learning to work together rather than against each other.If ultimately divorce is the answer, a professional divorce counselor can help you deal with the painful process, teach you how to adjust through the transition and help you and your family recover from divorce. The involvement of a divorce counselor will also help both parties communicate their post-divorce expectations effectively and civilly. A divorce counselor can also help you find support groups and organizations for children or parents who have gone through or are going through the throes of divorce.

How should you tell your children about the divorce?

  1. Inform children about the divorce as a family (when possible).
    Since their reactions will depend on what messages they hear and sense from you, stay calm. Plan ahead what you will tell them, but don't overwhelm them with information.
  2. Ask about and listen to your child's fears and concerns.
    Tell them who will tuck them in at night, fix breakfast, help with homework, and when they will see the other parent. Don't give false hope about reconciliation, but reassure them they are not responsible for the divorce.
  3. Respect and support your child's relationship with the other parent.
    Children often feel they are betraying the parent they won't live with. Show, by your actions and deeds, that you don't put them in the middle. Never say unkind things about the other parent to your child.
  4. Expect and accept your child's anger and sadness.
    Grief is normal for children to experience when parents divorce, so provide ongoing reassurance while they adjust. Maintaining familiar rituals and family routines help (e.g., Sunday dinner, watching a favorite TV show together, etc.).
  5. Go slow when introducing your children to someone new, if you choose to date.
    Keep the relationship platonic in front of your children.

Click to learn more about marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and how they can help your situation.

Helpful resources:

California Department of Mental Health
1600 9th Street, Rm. 151
Sacramento, CA 95814
(800) 896-4042
(916) 654-3890
National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-SAFE
(800) 799-7233