marriage counseling

Marriage counseling is the main thrust of what I work with in my private practice. Specifically, I see a lot of couples recovering from the effects of pornography or sexual addiction (click here to learn more about this) . That is why I have advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)- the most successful and empirically validated approach to working with marriages. Couples that go through EFT have a 75% success rate, meaning that they recover from stress and report being happy together regardless of how volatile they are at the beginning of therapy.   These effects remain or continue to improve over the next several years after therapy. The next best approach is only effective for 35% of couples, and only half of them maintain the effects of therapy after 1-2 years. 


EFT is especially effective in working with emotionally inexpressive men.  Men and women experience emotions differently, and manage their emotions differently.  This often leaves a couple stuck in one of three patterns: 


1.  Pursue-Withdraw:  Usually the wife is the pursuer- pursuing her husband to try to get him to connect with her.  She will try to get him to talk about the relationship by bringing up problems in the relationship.  Typically the husband is the withdrawer- pulling back to avoid conflict that is quite stressful.  As the pursuer pushes for connection, the withdrawer pulls away to decrease the tension.  The pursuer feels hurt and rejected and escalates the pursuit, whereupon the withdrawer pulls back even more to avoid the increased tension.  Eventually the withdrawer will lash out in anger to make the other person back off.  It is a miserable and well-rehearsed dance that leaves both spouses frustrated, hurt, and lonely. 


2.  Pursue-Pursue:  Think of two lawyers having it out in court.  Both spouses express emotion with intensity and push to feel heard.   Things tend to escalate rapidly and can get personal.  Just like pursue-withdraw, both spouses feel justified in their positions and believe the other person is being irrational.  Again, both spouses feel frustrated, hurt, and alone.


3.  Withdraw-Withdraw:  The silent killer.  It is deceptive to think that since there is no conflict that every thing is fine.  Couples with this style tend to have a calm home, but may feel very disconnected since they avoid saying anything that could rock the boat.      After years of this, they often feel like room mates instead of soul mates. 


EFT is highly effective in helping couples get unstuck, and create a meaningful relationship that both spouses like, love, and enjoy.


Often there are specific events along the way that have been very painful and stand out like a sore thumb (pornography, affairs, abandoned in time of need, etc) when trying to be close with your spouse.  EFT provides a roadmap for how to get past these roadblocks so that you don’t keep having the same argument for years on end. 


As a Christian counselor, this approach lines up with what I believe brings healing: connecting with the Lord, and connecting with each other in healthy ways.  Research in neuroscience continues to validate this approach.  In my experience of working with couples in private practice over the past 13 years, it simply works.