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Regardless of how healthy the relationship, many people seek counseling with a trained therapist to improve their marriages and
committed relationship - even when their relationship is not unduly distressed. Experiencing relationship distress, however,
represents a different state from the ups and downs in life that most people experience. In distressed relationships and marriages,
people feel fundamentally dissatisfied with their partner. Disappointment in the relationship does not just come and go; it is a
constant companion. Most frequently, couples with high levels of marital distress fight a good deal and their fights don’t lead to
resolution, but simply a sense of being worn out. Or they may not fight, but simply feel completely disconnected. People stop doing
nice things for each other, they stop communicating, and things tend to go from bad to worse. Frequent arguments that don’t get
resolved, loss of good feelings, and loss of friendship, sex and vitality are other signs that a marriage is distressed. Other signs, such
as contempt, withdrawal, violence, and a complete loss of connection signal that a marriage is in desperate trouble and that it is at
high risk for divorce. And you need not be legally married to have “marital distress.” Serious, long-term, committed relationships
can experience these kinds of major problems, too.

Sometimes marital problems are purely about problems in the relationship such as communication, solving problems, arguing,
intimacy, and sex. These kinds of problems often begin with partners simply not having a good sense of how to be married and how
to communicate and provide support. Other times couples may do well for a while, particularly in the earliest stages of their
romance, but they are not ready for the longer-term tasks in marriage. Studies of couples show that while the risks for marital
distress and divorce are highest early in marriage, these risks also grow just after the transitions that occur when couples begin to
have children and when the children reach adolescence.

Other times, marital problems are directly the result of individual problems, such as substance abuse. And marriages can even seem
to be going well, but one shattering event like an extramarital affair will throw a marriage into distress. Marital distress has powerful
effects on partners; often leading to great sadness, worry, a high level of tension, and problems such as depression. If prolonged, it
even has been shown to have direct effect on physical health. The effect on families is also profound, especially when conflict is high.
Children raised in high conflict homes tend to have many more problems than other children. And once marriages are distressed, a
progression begins that easily becomes a cascade downward, ultimately leading to the ending of a marriage.

The good news is that there are effective treatments for couples' distress. Given a willingness to work on a relationship, most
people can make their marriages satisfying again. No one begins as a perfect partner. Marriage depends on a number of
skills, such as being able to understand yourself, understand your partner, fight well, problem solve, and negotiate
differences. Sometimes patterns we learned in our families growing up are not effective, but are carried over to a marriage.
And sometimes the stresses of life make it difficult to stay happily married.

Treatment for marital distress is in part building or rebuilding the skills that work in marriage, such as learning to communicate and
problem solve, and how to fight without engaging in too much hurt. Partly, marriage counseling is about partners working to see
each other as people, to understand where they are coming from, and to negotiate those differences that can be negotiated and
accept those differences that cannot. Couples all have issues that stay with them; the key is to build a process that can help find a
way to talk about those issues, to find solutions, and not have the problems that emerge in life become overwhelming.

Marriage counselors and therapists have special training in couple therapy. They know how to help couples have a sense of progress
even as they struggle with difficult issues. There are many kinds of effective couple therapy. Some promote skills and practice, others
look more at the past and how things got this way; most combine the two. If you have a marital problem, call a marriage counselor
and make an appointment. Finding a marriage counselor is easy, but use caution. Be sure the person has specific experience in
couple therapy, as marriage and family therapists do.

Here are 5 reasons to get counseling:
#1 - Marriage and couples counseling acts as a form of healing for troubled marriages and as a preventative measure for
many large problems that may loom in a couple's future. Counseling is worth considering if you're experiencing problems in
your marriage or intimate relationship, or even if you're a couple simply looking to secure your relationship before marriage.
#2 - Marriage and couples counseling can help partners find a number of workable solutions that may help their marriage.
From infidelity to simple communication problems, a good therapist can help you figure out how to beat the odds and begin to heal
your relationship.
#3 - It is always helpful to consult with someone objective and distanced from your problems. Friends and family members
may make good comforters and sounding boards, but they are not necessarily biased. An objective marriage counselor sees
both sides and attempts helps to reconcile them.
#4 - You married or committed to the person you're with because you love them; no matter what they've done, it's worth trying at
least once to save. To this affect, a marriage counselor can help you determine how much your vested, and indeed, whether you
truly want to be with or without them in your life.
#5 - If you have children, marriage counseling offers an alternative option to divorce or separation. While some marriages
simply don't work, an equal number suffer from misunderstandings, lack of trust and other obstacles; if you have children,
these problems are compounded. Marriage counseling can be an excellent option for figuring out one, if you can save your
marriage, and two, how to handle questions, concerns and problems your children may have.

2608 State Street, Dallas, TX 75204 (214) 534-6177
Stephanie Burchell, PhD, LMFT offers marriage counseling, family therapy & psychotherapy in
Dallas - conveniently located to residents of Uptown, downtown Dallas and the Park Cities.
Dallas Marriage Counseling . Family Therapy . Life Coach
Stephanie Burchell, PhD, LMFT
Marriage Counseling & Couples Therapy
Copyright 2007-2009, Stephanie Burchell, PhD, LMFT Dallas, Texas
All right reserved.
Dallas marriage counseling, couples therapy, premarital preparation, family therapy, psychotherapy, and life coach in Uptown, downtown Dallas and the Park Cities