More tips from Dr. Coche: Although marriage is the foundation for emotional strength on our planet, none of us find it easy to be married. All of us run into marital troubles. Before you go for expert help, try to talk quietly with your partner about what is wrong. Find a calm time and try to understand one another better.
A second way to try to help yourself is to take one of the many courses that teach communication skills, how to handle money, and how to be more successfully intimate. Look for courses in your church, at your university, or in someone's psychotherapy practice. These courses should be fast, inexpensive, and informative.
A third approach before getting help is to read carefully chosen books written by experts on the topic of your concern. Try to discuss the content with your partner.
After you have done easy ways to help yourself, it is time to seek expert help. You will know you need expert help when your partner insults you by calling your concerns "psychobabble" and refuses to seek help with you. Or, when your children ask you to get help. Or, when infidelity rears its ugly head. You will feel desperate, alone, and unable to continue in the relationship any longer.
When you find that you need help, please select a professional who specializes in couples work. You can find this person through The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, The American Family Therapy Association, The American Psychological Association, The National Association of Social Workers, The American Psychiatric Association, and other professional groups. This is a special area of expertise requiring special training. It is worth the effort to find the right person.
If your partner refuses to go with you, ask the expert to meet with you alone. We are able to help one person in a relationship. Do not wait until your partner agrees. This is likely to take a very long time.
With these guidelines, I wish you well in your journey towards a better marriage. A successful marriage is one of your greatest gifts. It impacts your health, your happiness, and your children's welfare. Please feel free to contact me and let me know how you are doing. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Judith Coche is a clinical psychologist with offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She teaches at the Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she specializes in group psychotherapy, as well as in marriage and family psychotherapy. She has been on the Today Show numerous times. Her mission is to bring the best of psychology to the public and to strengthen families by strengthening marriage. Working with Laurie Abraham, she planned and executed the "Can this marriage be saved?" cover story in the New York Times Magazine on August 12, 2007
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