Marriage Counseling in Orange County
- What We Hope For vs. What We Get
Marriage feels the best when you have married someone who sees you the way you always hoped to be seen - always cast in the best light, trusted, understood, appreciated. Given the benefit of the doubt when there are misunderstandings, miscommunications, rough times...life. Yet, most marriages have problems - frustrating arguments complete with criticizing, blaming, tears...and when you try to talk about it, you just repeat the pattern over and over again.
The fear is that eventually, when love is no longer being served at home, one or both partners will dine out. It's understandable...if you are starving, take out looks really good. Logically, we know that an affair will only make matters worse. But at that point we are desperate to feel better about ourselves, no matter what it takes, and no matter the cost.
So, why are there misunderstandings in the first place? Well, we all have a past, and, therefore, we all have baggage. And we get married, and we move into our new home together and we plop down our "bags" at the front door.
Now...we know our bags are there because we put them there. But our new spouse comes home and "trips" over our bags, and a fight ensues. And neither understands what's going on. That's where I come in. I can be reached 27/7 at 714-743-5612 by calling or texting.
So What Can You Expect From Counseling With Me?
I offer marriage counseling, which helps you figure out how your relationships got off track, so it doesn't happen again.
I offer marriage coaching, which teaches specific ways to interact so both partners feel heard, understood and supported in the relationship.
And, I mentor couples - I offer a vast and diverse array of resources - my therapy is NOT cookie cutter/one size fits all. Each couple is unique, and thus what you need to heal and grow is unique, and so we work together, trying many different things until we find what resonates with each of you. Learn more about me HERE
I rely on several different cutting edge theories to help couples heal hurts and rebuild
My understanding of couple's interactions comes from several different theories. First, there is John Gray (Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.) Dr. Gray in his book, When Mars and Venus Collide, discusses the physiological responses that our bodies have to stress, how men and women seek to relieve the emotional and physical discomfort brought on by stress, and how completely different men and women are in both their physical response and their self soothing behaviors. Knowing this, I think the powers that be have a wicked sense of humor - how in the world have men and women ever gotten along in the first place???
Gottman's Marriage Counseling
The next theory I incorporate is The Gottman's Bridging The Couples Chasm. The Gottmans are the marriage counseling couple out of Washington State, who, famously, in the early 1990's claimed they could predict 92% of the time which marriages would last and which would fail. You can imagine the uproar such a claim would make. Well, now, in the mid-2000 teens, The Gottmans have a 96% accuracy rate regarding marriage success/failure! Their theory continues where John Gray leaves off. I have been taught what the physiological responses to stress actually look like - and what greater stress is there than to be hurt, betrayed, ignored, insulted, belittled by your spouse - THE person you thought you could trust the most...
The goal with The Gottman's marriage counseling is to understand your partner's view - not necessarily agree with your partner - just understand how they see things, and thus why they react the way they do. For both men and women, feeling understood goes a long way in reducing stress in a relationship. Again, you don't have to agree - just understand where they are coming from. And then we discuss how to recognize when your partner is starting to stress, and how you each can then most appropriately relate to each other, so your relationship doesn't spiral out of control because of stress.
On top of all of these two theories I superimpose Attachment Theory as discussed in the book Becoming Attached by Robert Karen, Ph.D. Attachment style is how we form relationships - our particular way of bonding with people we like. Unfortunately, this style is created before we turn three years old! And, most of us don't even have memories from that time in our lives, yet we are trapped in a behavior we don't even recognize we do...So, because this behavior is so ingrained, because it was formed so long ago, it's invisible to us and thus it's virtually impossible for us to change on our own. Again, that's where I come in. I can help you recognize patterns of behavior that don't serve your goals of being in a kind, loving, close relationship with a significant other.
The book Becoming Attached documents the history of attachment theory, all the way back to Freud. There are three patterns of attachment behavior: The securely attached (where we are sensitively attuned to ourselves and others); the avoidantly attached (where we respond to others in a harsh and rejecting way, causing us to be sullen, argumentative, self sufficient to the point of being arrogant about it - I don't need you or anyone else...); and the ambivalently attached (where our behavior seems inconsistent, even chaotic in a relationship and we appear flat/emotionless one minute then out of control and raging the next, making us look immature and incapable of taking care of ourselves.)
You Can Change
These different reactions to stress, especially when dating, can feel like self-sabotage, creating what we fear the most - being rejected. Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe your partner/love interest, perhaps your parent or child or sibling . How many friends do you have like this? Perhaps even your boss; praising your work and dedication one minute, then refusing a bonus or raise the next...I would be honored to help you deal with these people. And, in case you recognized yourself, please know, you can change.