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Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Considering Marital/Couple Counselling?


If one partner thinks marital or couple counselling is a good idea, more often than not, the other partner is less than enthusiastic. Getting couples to agree on counselling is often grist for the mill of couple conflict.


There are several reasons why couples can’t agree on counselling, including: minimization or denial of the problem; sense of shame or embarrassment; belief that matters should be sorted out solely between the couple; concern for being blamed; loss of power or control; worry that the counsellor may inflame matters; and cost.


Indeed, it is amazing anyone gets to couple counselling, given the forces against it.


However, when one’s most significant relationship is in turmoil, counselling may be just the ticket to mitigate the problem and return satisfaction.


There is a colloquial definition of crazy: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. If you are banging your own head against the wall of unresolved marital/couple conflict trying the same ol’, same ol’ solutions to no avail, then you are definitely a candidate for couple counselling.


While couple counselling should be a joint consideration, it is common that one partner takes the lead and initiates service. This is reminiscent of a parent taking their child to the dentist. However, unless someone takes the lead in these situations, the problem not only will likely remain, but is at risk of getting worse.


If you think of a problem as something altering the course of your life together, the longer it continues the more off-base you are from your intended course.  The more off-base, the more intense the issues and the more difficult the road back. Getting help earlier typically leads to faster resolutions. Couples are encouraged to seek help sooner before the weight of the problems causes the relationship to collapse on itself.


As for counselling service providers, people can consider a number of options, including their physician, clergy, public services, private services paid by employee benefits and self-pay private services. The expertise of the service provider will vary widely between practitioners and it is vital for couples to ascertain the expertise of the service provider to be assured of appropriate service. Further, the degree of confidentiality can differ between providers and their settings, so this too is an area of reasonable exploration.


The process of any counselling includes a general “getting to know you phase”, problem exploration, solution identification, strategy implementation and follow up. The first several stages of counselling can take place over several standard 50 minute meetings or in a lengthier single session. Ask your service provider about their approach to the counselling process.


As for cost, be it emotional or financial, the real question to ask yourself is, can we afford not to go? If you believe things will not resolve on their own or will resolve poorly or will worsen, then the cost of inaction can carry more risk than the perceived risk or upset of attending for counselling.


Counselling can be scary. People must face their issues, take responsibility for their contribution to distress and look to altering behaviour which can pose a challenge.


The counsellor is there to help with all those issues. Their only concern is improving your relationship and well-being.


How do you know when you really need counselling: When you feel desperate or you are contemplating separating; you are depressed or anxious about your issues; you are contemplating an affair – emotional or physical; you feel distant or isolated; you lack intimacy, emotional or sexual; you suffer abuse in any form; one or other person simply says, “Let’s go”.


As my grandmother used to say, “Don’t throw it away until after you’ve seen if it can be fixed.” If you think you need counselling, you will likely benefit from it.


Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.




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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.


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For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.


Are you the parent of new teen driver?  Check out this teen safe driving program: www.ipromiseprogram.com


27 Sina Street, Georgina, ON, Canada L4P 3E9 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com