Marriage Counseling

I have specialized in marriage counseling in South Jersey for more than 20 years.

The first session typically begins with this clear statement: the client is the relationship rather than either spouse. This discourages the time-wasting contest about who is “right” and who is “wrong” on any given issue. This also discourages any thought that I am favoring one partner over another.

Next comes a thorough assessment of the couple’s strengths and vulnerabilities. I borrow from the research of Dr. John M. Gottman, who observed couples for an extended period in a laboratory setting.

Here are some of the indicators that marriage counseling is called for:

  • the harsh start-up – any attempt at resolving conflict quickly breaks down in negativity
    and accusation
  • the four horsemen (of the Apocalypse)
  • 1. criticism – in which a partner’s character or personality is attacked
    2. contempt – which Gottman describes as criticism congealed into a sneer
    3. defensiveness – a spouse’s need to protect himself or herself against attack
    4. stonewalling – in which the spouses largely tune each other out

  • flooding – when all the criticism and contempt becomes overwhelming and all
    positive communication has stopped
  • body language – I observe where the partners sit in relationship to each other
    and I take note of their posture, facial expressions, etc.
  • repair attempts – I note how effective or ineffective each partner is in de-escalating
    tense situations
  • past memories – how positive or negative are the spouses’ memories of their past
  • Based on my assessment, I co-create an agenda with the partners and a treatment plan is developed.

    I can’t predict the success or failure of my marriage counseling in South Jersey. This depends largely on the underlying strength of the relationship and the partners’ willingness to work on improvement. While I offer some teaching, I serve largely as a trained guide toward more positive interaction.

    I can, however, offer an accurate prediction – within only a few sessions – on whether or not the process of marriage counseling is worth pursuing.