In the early 1960s, I was hired by Merrimack College to
start their Psychology Department and to develop Psychological Services and to Direct the
Counseling Center. These were services for the Faculty, Students and Staff of the
College. At the end of the 60s and early 70s, I was one of a very few
Doctoral Level Psychologists in the Merrimack Valley and I began to get a great many
referrals for private therapy. The most frequent were for couples dealing with
marriage problems and came from many sources including Clergy, Lawyers, Business
Associates, Family Members, Friends, etc.
Because many of these individuals had great difficulty
dealing with the possibility of divorce (kids - money - religion - fear - in-laws) they
tried very hard to make their marriage work. I, therefore, had a wonderful
population to combine my Doctoral Psychology with practical approaches to helping these
couples explore what went wrong in their relationship and what to do about it. (You
might call it on the job training" - and it was intense!)
Couples had only three real choices: (1) recover a good
marriage; (2) divorce; or (3) stay together and continue to be unhappy. We asked the
question: How could something that started out with such promise and expectation,
end up in such a troubled state? It was not long before I realized a most important
NO SUCH THING AS A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR
Oops --- have I lost you? --- I hope not!..... Think
about it for a moment -- one doesn't counsel a marriage -- one counsels
individuals in a marriage..... and it is up to those two people, in that special
relationship, to determine how to understand and deal with each other. So, what are
the possible causes of the developed difficulties? Think about it for
1. We each grow up in a particular home with thoughts,
feelings, values and behaviors, that are usually passed on from our parents and/or other
2. In the beginning of a relationship, we are usually
so focused on the new and exciting aspects of our being together, that the everyday
aspects of married life are not yet something that we have to deal with, much less think
3. As time goes on, more and more functional and
value oriented decisions come into play - decisions about where to live, what the home
should be like, how to spend discretionary money, how to raise and discipline the kids
etc. (and - why do I FEEL so unhappy?) ***And then the potential problems
It is at this point where Professional Counseling can
1. By systematically reviewing and gaining an
understanding of what and how YOU and YOUR SPOUSE learned to learn; and,
2. By seeing where and how your learning and values
system differs: (seeing things differently).
3. YOU are then able to understand the background and
present basis for your concerns.
4. It is in this context that I try to help
couples (individuals) understand how they got to the point where their marriage is in
difficulty and might even end; and, therefore, how to deal with these pressing issues.
Often a couple is able to recover their relationship and go
on to have a wonderful marriage into the future. But that is not always the case.
If there are no children involved, the situation can be resolved without too many
complications, although it is most always a sad and difficult time. With children,
the couple is committed to a long term relationship - whether they stay married or get
divorced - and should learn to continue the relationship in a productive and positive way.
(Most parents still really do love their children). The resolution of these and many
other issues are what we deal with in Counseling.
I would also point out, that the tensions and demands of
professional and business careers often lead to marriage problems. This has become a more
prevalent issue in recent years with the complexities of family life, the world economy,
two career parents, information overload, and seemingly endless choices (who can really
keep up with 50+ cable TV channels?) I find that more and more of my
consulting with Business, in Organizational Development and Executive Coaching, gets into
the realm of helping busy people find appropriate ways to develop and deal with their
marriage and family commitment.
If you feel that I might be of help, please call
or email and arrange for an introductory session. I would hope to be the right
person to counsel with you, but if another option would seem better, we will explore
alternatives and suggest an appropriate referral.
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