Marriage Counseling Advice

Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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You might be looking for marriage counseling advice if you're going through a rough patch in your relationship. Although every situation is unique, this article may help you learn what to expect and what you need to do in order to get the most out of the time you spend with a counselor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, marriage counseling may be used to help a couple achieve a general result such as strengthening their bonds or gaining a better understanding of each other.

Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon  97232

Couple in marriage counseling

Alternatively, it might be used to address specific issues like communication problems, sexual difficulties, conflicts about child-rearing, substance abuse, financial problems, anger, or infidelity.(1)

Some counselors offer a bit of marriage counseling advice on their own websites. For example, Jane Dooley states that the steps to successful marriage counseling are to:

○ Identify core problem(s) ○ Develop a realistic treatment plan based on goals, expectations, and available time ○ Use proven techniques ○ Apply relevant information, guidance, and support to meet the goals(2)

Willard Harley, Jr. offers more expansive marriage counseling advice on his website, taken in part from his book, 5 Steps to Romantic Love. He sees the purpose of marriage counseling as guiding a couple through emotional minefields, motivational swamps, and creative wildernesses.(3) According to Harley's definitions, emotional minefields are the predictable but painful experiences couples may go through as they adjust to each other's emotional reactions. Counseling can help the couple avoid some of the landmines and can provide damage control when they are unable to step around the landmines.

Motivational swamps, according to Harley, are the feelings of discouragement that make it hard for couples to keep trying to improve their marriages as time goes on. Counseling can help keep the couple encouraged that the marriage is worth the effort it takes to keep the couple together. Finally, navigating the creative wilderness involves helping couples create solutions to the problems they experience in their marriage.

Marriage counseling advice may also be valuable in predicting your risk for divorce.Statistically, people who: marry young, have less education, have low income, are in a mixed-faith marriage, are the children of divorced parents, are critical of their spouse, are defensive, withdraw when challenged, and are contemptuous of their partners are the most likely to divorce.(4)

Even if you meet every single one of these criteria, it doesn't mean your marriage is doomed. It simply means that you may need to work harder at your marriage than some of your friends. It may also mean you should seek counseling earlier rather than later when problems arise in your relationship. One of the key predictors of the success of relationship counseling is the alliance you are able to form with your therapist. If you live in West Linn, Oregon, for example, or Bend, Oregon, and you are unable to bond well with one therapist, by all means try another. You might try a therapist practicing online through virtual therapy in Lake Oswego, Oregon, for example. You might try searching some of the online marriage counseling advice sites (link to to find a searchable directory of counselors in your area.


(1)Mayo Clinic Staff, Marriage Counseling. Retrieved May 11, 2011 from

(2)Dooley, Jane, What you can expect. Retrieved May 11, 2011 from

(3)Harley, WF. 5 Steps to Romantic Love, Revell, May, 2009. ISBN 978-0800733582.

(4)Stritof, Sheri & Bob. Does Marriage Counseling Work? Retrieved May 11, 2011 from

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Steven M Cohn, PhD, MBA, LMFT has twice been named one of the top three marriage counselors in Portland, Oregon by the non-profit organization Three Best Rated

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