What do you mean by a REAL marriage?

A REAL marriage is defined by the couple. What I mean by a REAL marriage is one that is meaningful to the couple whether it looks like something from the movies, books, or television or not. A REAL marriage is not a marriage of pretenses. I think we often see what happens in Hollywood or its productions and think that our marriages or lives need to be that way to be fulfilling. Baloney! Susan and I get great satisfaction out of working in the yard together and the massages we give each other to work out the soreness are loving and romantic. Not the stuff of a blockbuster movie yet it is great for us. Define your own REAL marriage and enjoy it.

Can couples really recover from an affair?

Yes! Recovering from an affair is possible and those who work very hard at it often come through on the other side with a better marriage than they ever had. Those who do this work also develop skills to keep their marriage going well and improving over time. Realize though that this process takes time and a two year recovery time is normal.

Do love notes make a difference?

Absolutely! I have yet to meet anyone, man or woman, who does not like to get love notes. In a conversation once I mentioned love notes and one of the women in the small group said that if her ex-husband had given her notes like that she would have "been all over him." Try giving love notes to your spouse for a week and see what happens.

How long does counseling take?

It depends. I know you would like a more specific answer and yet every situation is different. Some things can be taken care of in one session and other things can take months or even a year or two. I also see counseling as an educational process that comes in handy even when there are not problems. "Counselor" is another word for "advisor" so I advocate for going to counseling whenever you are about to enter a new life stage. For example, I believe it is important to go to counseling before getting married and again when you become pregnant with your first child. The counselor should be able to point you to helpful resources, answer questions, and even teach helpful skills for use in your new life stage.

Why do I need premarital counseling?

Marriage is wonderful and it is also serious. Marriage is a lifelong commitment and such a decision needs to be made with the heart and the head. It is also helpful to learn skills that will help you have the best marriage you can possibly have. Most of us go to school for at least 12 years so that we can get a job. We have to study for and pass a test just to get a driver's license so why not do a little study and skill building for the lifelong adventure you are about to undertake?

Do I need premarital counseling if I have been married before?

Yes. There are things that you need to talk over with your potential future mate before marrying to ensure that this is a person you want to work with through the ups and downs of marriage. This person is not your first spouse. This person is different so you will need to approach your marriage differently. You may be marrying again because of either divorce or the death of your spouse and it is important that you work through your thoughts and feelings about the previous spouse before moving on to another spouse.

How do I find a good counselor in my area?

The best way to find a good counselor is to ask other people for recommendations. Your friends and co-workers may be able to recommend someone who helped them. Your clergy or physician can often recommend counselors who have been helpful to others in the past. Remember, not all counselors work well with all people. It doesn't make the counselor a bad counselor or you a bad client, it simply means that not all people "click" with each other. If your counselor is not responsive to what you are asking for or their style does not work for you then find a different counselor. Make sure not to dump your counselor simply because they have asked you to address an area that is difficult for you. Counseling is a change process that is not always comfortable and we sometimes need to move out of our comfort zone.

What is marriage enrichment?

Marriage enrichment is for any marriage. Marriage enrichment is basically marriage education and encouragement. Any marriage can be better. That does not mean that the marriage is bad, it may be great. So why not make a good or great thing even better. Marriage enrichment should do just that, enrich your marriage. It should remind you of things you already know and therefore encourage you to keep doing what has worked before. Marriage enrichment should also give you some new ideas or skills to help you move to the next level up in your marriage.

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