Wise Family Decisions

Wise Family Decisions

Wouldn’t it have been great if school offered classes on how to make decisions?

Even the most decisive person gets stuck between choices from time to time.  The most difficult times are when there are no good choices. Often these are the very times we’ve got to choose something and leap into the great unknown.

Enter Decision Counseling

Decision counseling is topic-specific, short term intensive meetings aimed at gaining clarity and confidence to move forward.  It’s about making decisions, not changes. Led by a licensed clinical psychologist, experienced with family systems, substance abuse, and decision theory, these sessions offer a specialized structure for making hard choices.

 

Different from traditional counseling, Decision Counseling outlines different paths and sets upon discovering new insights.  It consists of goal oriented, short-term sessions with the family stakeholders.. The focus is not on how to change but the decision to change.  Regular counseling, including marital counseling is open ended and works on the process of change. Limiting to five meetings intensifies the decision making process.  By the end, you and your family will have greater clarity and confidence for making a choice before you.

What kinds of decisions?

Families get stuck in a lot of places.  Almost any big decision can work with Decision Counseling.  Originally designed for couples on the brink of divorce, it can be applied to decisions regarding substance abuse treatment, parenting options, infertility decisions, elder care decisions, lifestyle issues, and negotiating sexual practices.  If you can clearly define options, even if you don’t know how to choose or what to do, Decision Counseling can help.

What are the first steps?

The first step is to make an appointment for your free phone consultation.  We’ll talk through your options and see if decision counseling is the right path.  From there, we’ll make the initial appointment to meet in-person. My office is on the North Shore of Chicago in downtown Wilmette.  If you’d prefer, we can meet there or the location of your choice. All we need is a private space to talk.

If you’re at the end of your rope, Decision Counseling can help.  Read more about the Leaning In and the Leaning Out partner to see if this specialized counseling is right for you and your marriage.  Contact me with questions and schedule a complimentary consultation appointment.  Relief is around the corner.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

Contact

Make an Appointment

Schedule your complimentary consultation here. 

Message

Click here to send me a message.

Service Areas

On-site at a location of your choice and
locally in the North Shore of Chicago

Solo Decision Making

Solo Decision Making

Wouldn’t it have been great if school offered classes on how to make decisions?

Even the most decisive person gets stuck between choices from time to time.  The most difficult times are when there are no good choices. Often these are the very times we’ve got to choose something and leap into the great unknown.

Enter Decision Counseling

Decision counseling is topic-specific, short term intensive meetings aimed at gaining clarity and confidence to move forward.  It’s about making decisions, not changes. Led by a licensed clinical psychologist, experienced with family systems, substance abuse, and decision theory, these sessions offer a specialized structure for making hard choices.

 

Different from traditional counseling, Decision Counseling outlines different paths and sets upon discovering new insights.  It consists of goal oriented, short-term sessions with the family stakeholders.. The focus is not on how to change but the decision to change.  Regular counseling, including marital counseling is open ended and works on the process of change. Limiting to five meetings intensifies the decision making process.  By the end, you and your family will have greater clarity and confidence for making a choice before you.

What kinds of decisions?

Families get stuck in a lot of places.  Almost any big decision can work with Decision Counseling.  Originally designed for couples on the brink of divorce, it can be applied to decisions regarding substance abuse treatment, parenting options, infertility decisions, elder care decisions, lifestyle issues, and negotiating sexual practices.  If you can clearly define options, even if you don’t know how to choose or what to do, Decision Counseling can help.

What are the first steps?

The first step is to make an appointment for your free phone consultation.  We’ll talk through your options and see if decision counseling is the right path.  From there, we’ll make the initial appointment to meet in-person. My office is on the North Shore of Chicago in downtown Wilmette.  If you’d prefer, we can meet there or the location of your choice. All we need is a private space to talk.

If you’re at the end of your rope, Decision Counseling can help.  Read more about the Leaning In and the Leaning Out partner to see if this specialized counseling is right for you and your marriage.  Contact me with questions and schedule a complimentary consultation appointment.  Relief is around the corner.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

Contact

Make an Appointment

Schedule your complimentary consultation here. 

Message

Click here to send me a message.

Service Areas

On-site at a location of your choice and
locally in the North Shore of Chicago

Substance Abuse in the Family

Substance Abuse in the Family

Wouldn’t it have been great if school offered classes on how to make decisions?

Even the most decisive person gets stuck between choices from time to time.  The most difficult times are when there are no good choices. Often these are the very times we’ve got to choose something and leap into the great unknown.

Enter Decision Counseling

Decision counseling is topic-specific, short term intensive meetings aimed at gaining clarity and confidence to move forward.  It’s about making decisions, not changes. Led by a licensed clinical psychologist, experienced with family systems, substance abuse, and decision theory, these sessions offer a specialized structure for making hard choices.

 

Different from traditional counseling, Decision Counseling outlines different paths and sets upon discovering new insights.  It consists of goal oriented, short-term sessions with the family stakeholders.. The focus is not on how to change but the decision to change.  Regular counseling, including marital counseling is open ended and works on the process of change. Limiting to five meetings intensifies the decision making process.  By the end, you and your family will have greater clarity and confidence for making a choice before you.

What kinds of decisions?

Families get stuck in a lot of places.  Almost any big decision can work with Decision Counseling.  Originally designed for couples on the brink of divorce, it can be applied to decisions regarding substance abuse treatment, parenting options, infertility decisions, elder care decisions, lifestyle issues, and negotiating sexual practices.  If you can clearly define options, even if you don’t know how to choose or what to do, Decision Counseling can help.

What are the first steps?

The first step is to make an appointment for your free phone consultation.  We’ll talk through your options and see if decision counseling is the right path.  From there, we’ll make the initial appointment to meet in-person. My office is on the North Shore of Chicago in downtown Wilmette.  If you’d prefer, we can meet there or the location of your choice. All we need is a private space to talk.

If you’re at the end of your rope, Decision Counseling can help.  Read more about the Leaning In and the Leaning Out partner to see if this specialized counseling is right for you and your marriage.  Contact me with questions and schedule a complimentary consultation appointment.  Relief is around the corner.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

Contact

Make an Appointment

Schedule your complimentary consultation here. 

Message

Click here to send me a message.

Service Areas

On-site at a location of your choice and
locally in the North Shore of Chicago

Are you the Leaning Out partner?

Are you the Leaning Out partner?

With no new ideas, divorce seems like the only solution.  Discernment Counseling was designed with you in mind. It’s a new way of making decisions in your relationship.  Even if your relationship ultimately ends in divorce, skills learned in Discernment Counseling carry on. Nothing is wasted.

Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples.  Usually one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help–and the other is “leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.  Sometimes both people are leaning in or out. The structure and techniques in Discernment Counseling guarantee clarity and a deliberate path forward.

How is Discernment Counseling different?

I’m pro-marriage – but only if both parties are in and working towards health.  Discernment Counseling aids you and your partner gain traction on the process and explore a new path for reconciliation.  It’s about making decisions, not changes. Learn about yourself and what parts would need to change in this or another relationship.  Couples counseling is only on the table if both of you are willing to do something different.

The goal of discernment counseling is to help couples gain greater clarity and confidence with the direction of the relationship.  Maybe you want to save your marriage. Keep the family intact for the kids. Maybe you’re dealing with addiction, affairs, or abuse or have simply fallen out of love.  This short-term, intensive process of 1- 5 session(s) will add complexity as well as resolve to the issue.

What kind of Leaning Out partner are you?

If you’re the Leaning Out partner, you may have lost hope for the future of your marriage.   Couples counseling never worked. Maybe you’ve already asked for a divorce or are separated. It’s natural to be ambivalent about a big decision.  If you’re not 100% decided, the best option is to get more information. There are three general emotional styles or attitudes with the Leaning Out partner.

1. Divorce as liberation.

Longing to be free of your marriage, you may dream of a future life.  It doesn’t even matter how realistic the dream is or is not because you know it’s got to be better than now.

Perhaps you’re having an affair and even still have good feelings about your partner.  Maybe there’s someone waiting in the wings for you to end it.

There’s less pressure in this stance because you’ve got one foot already out and there’s little engagement with your marital dissatisfaction.  You don’t even fight! You likely spend little time with your partner and don’t think it will be that big a deal to split.

This emotional style tends to have unrealistic expectations for the down stream life after divorce.

2. Divorce as relief.

You don’t necessarily want a divorce but don’t know what else to do to stop the fighting, the tense atmosphere, and the emotional drain on you.

You may have tried everything but nothing has worked to make things better.  Surely even the kids will feel relieved as well.

The relationship is stifling; a heavy burden you carry. Disagreements leave you feeling stuck, picked on, and the changes aren’t coming fast enough.  You just want to escape.

Your partner may be pressuring you with pursuit, talking to friends and family, scolding you, and creating an atmosphere of greater tension and fear about getting divorced.

This emotional style tends to make hasty decisions to relieve the pressure they perceive from their partner.

3. Divorce as reluctant

letting go.

Worn out and tired, you don’t want out but you can’t see different future.  You have no illusions that divorce will be better but it seems like the only solution. 

Even though you’re concerned about finances and how it would affect the kids, you can’t see a solution that would allow you to stay married.

You need support but don’t have the energy to reach out. What difference would it make anyhow?

Read or listen to the audiobooks from 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce.  

Try one session of Discernment Counseling and see what changes.  

Check out the services page to see if sessions or an intensive workshop is right for you and your relationship.  

This emotional style needs clarity to make real changes.

Hear more from the founder of

Discernment Counseling, Dr. Bill Doherty

Dr. Laura L. Walsh is trained in the Discernment Counseling method of decision making.  She’ll help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.

Losing Hope or Falling Out of Love

With how your marriage has gone, it seems your partner doesn’t get you.  They don’t try to see problems from your point of view and become defensive when you bring up issues.  Single friends seem to have it made and the romance of this kind of life is a draw. But what if your partner changed in meaningful ways?

It’s tempting to blame problems on your marriage but that hasn’t gotten you anywhere.  Your partner does the same. As the initiator to the discussion about splitting, you’ve got a lot of power.  The key is to make a clear assessment of the situation.  Since you can’t divorce yourself, there may be some blind spots.  You’re at risk of carrying the same baggage into the next relationship.  Discernment Counseling helps you gather the facts so you can confidently make a deliberate decision about your future.

If the love is gone that doesn’t mean it’s over.  We often assume that the person we marry will stay the same over the course of decades.  But it would be a tragedy if we didn’t evolve. In fact, I’d say we can’t help but change.  If you look back, you may see that you’ve had multiple relationships with the same person throughout the course of your marriage.  You can fall in love again with your partner but it must be someone you’d choose as your current self because you’ve changed too.

Something Has to Change

Staying married means embracing change.  It becomes one of the many ‘glues’ that hold two people together.  Despite what culture teaches us, there is no standard marriage. It is defined by whatever agreement the two people decide.  It is negotiated and renegotiated again and again.

You know something has to change but what?  How? If you decide to work on the marriage, that’s the job of couples counseling.  Discernment Counseling is about deciding whether change is possible and if you want to change.  It’s about discovering new insights about yourself and your contributions to where you are now. It’s a decision on changing what you can, accepting what’s out of your control, and whether it can make a difference for the future of your marriage.

Myths About Marriage and Divorce

Myth: Kids want their parents to divorce when there’s a lot of conflict and tension.

Truth: Kids want their parents together and prefer the known to the unknown.  They want their lives to stay the same familiar routine, even if they’re dealing with a lot.  As parents, we’re teaching them about relationships all the time. The question then becomes, “What kind of model for relationships do I want to teach my kids?”

Myth: Marriage to the ‘right’ person is effortless.

Truth: All relationships, from family, friendships, work, and community to marriage are work in some form.  There’s a social/emotional bank account where ideally, both people make deposits and withdrawals. We work to make deposits but we also have to work to receive from others.  Choosing who you invest with is important.  However, similar values and contributions are generally more important than an emphasis on shared hobbies.

Myth: Marriage to the ‘wrong’ person is the root of all your troubles.

Truth: The concept of a ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ match is fundamentally subjective.  What makes someone wrong or right for us is also dependent on how flexible and willing we are to mutually compromise.  If you were to ask 10 people what made a romantic partner a good match, you’d likely get little overlap – unless all 10 people shared the same values.  There are general categories of compatibility with wide variation of the course of your lifetime.

Myth: Once a cheater, always a cheater. You should divorce after an affair.

Truth: If the underlying dynamics that led to the affair are not addressed, this issue will likely continue.  Loneliness and disconnection in a relationship is an issue for both people. An affair is a destructive way to cope these problems.  However, if both people in the marriage are committed to regaining connection, an affair does not have to mean the end. Research actually shows that most marriages continue after affairs.  The ones that thrive develop conscious methods for maintaining connection.

Curious about how a Leaning In partner thinks and feels?  Check out the article: Are you the Leaning In partner?

Is Change Possible?  You Decide.

The bottom line is if you’re still married, there is hope if you decide to pursue it.  Relationships are deeply personal and there’s no clear answer for so many questions. Experience is usually the best teacher but not always.  If you need more clarity and the confidence to break free of ambivalence about important decisions in your life, I can help. Give Discernment Counseling a try.  We schedule one session at a time with a maximum of 5 to take advantage of the decision making process. Contact me to schedule a complimentary consultation.

What do you want and need?

It can be difficult to figure out what makes you happy – especially beyond your relationship.  In the Discernment Counseling process, the focus is on learning about yourself and what parts would need to change in this or another relationship.  The sweet spot for working on change is not accommodations to your spouse – it’s aspects of self that are barriers to having a mutually intimate relationship in which both people are well defined individuals with boundaries.

A marriage is on the rocks is a sign the balance is off.  Restoring this balance is risky but the rewards are high.  Balance in a healthy, nurturing, and fulfilling relationship requires both partners to give and receive – to make both deposits and withdrawals from the emotional bank account between you.  

What’s In It for Me?

Identifying patterns where you’ve contributed to the strain is the trickiest part for Leaning Out partners.  Maybe you’re thinking, “What are you talking about, my part??” Learning to see where you have influence or control and where you don’t can be very empowering.  It means you can do something to improve your circumstances.  Acquiring this skill is important whether or not you stay in the marriage.  You must be flexible enough to be influenced by others.  This means putting aside your belief that you know the score and can accurately predict the future. Change isn’t possible unless we believe in it. You can start by recognizing the small things in both yourself and the relationship.

The work on yourself is an investment in all of your relationships.  Take a step back and evaluate your life. Is this how you want to live?  Are you happy? Your natural inclination may be to answer with, “No! My marriage is crumbling!” but that’s not what I mean.  Are you satisfied with your work? Do you take care of yourself, have hobbies, your own friends, and like or even love yourself?  If you’re living a life that is less than satisfactory to you, that’s where we begin.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

If your marriage is on the rocks, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Discernment Counseling is right for you and your relationship.

Below are some resources to help you get some traction.  Also check out 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce for more resources.

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel

I Love You, but I’m Not IN Love with You: Seven Steps to Saving Your Relationship by Andrew G. Marshall

I Wish I Knew This Before My Divorce: Ending the Battle Between Holding On and Letting Go by Elaine O. Foster PhD and Joseph W. Foster

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know navigate the process of deciding to work on yourself as an investment in your marriage?

Are you the Leaning In partner?

Are you the Leaning In partner?

You’ve got hope for the future of your marriage.  Or you’re at least leaning in that direction.    We’ll be talking about the Leaning In partner from the lens of divorce but there are many other applications of this template.  Almost any stuck decision has Leaning In potential when there’s ambivalence and a mixed-agenda.

Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples.  Usually one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help–and the other is “leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.  Sometimes both people are leaning in or out. The structure and techniques in Discernment Counseling guarantee clarity and a deliberate path forward.

Couples need clear channels of communication.   Unless both partners have ‘two feet in’ to work on the relationship, it’s nearly impossible to be heard and understood.  Instead, each person retreats to their defended corner to make their (usually valid!) points in support of their feelings and experiences.  There’s little opportunity to learn about yourself and your partner to truly unravel the knots.

Leaning In Styles and Attitudes

The Leaning In person still has hope for the future of the relationship and wants to stay together.  There are three general emotional styles or attitudes with the Leaning In partner.

1. Anxious/

Desperate

Big Mistakes of this Style

You may have only recently learned just how much trouble your marriage is in when your partner put divorce on the table.  You want to save the marriage, maybe at any cost. You’re in a panic, a tailspin. Your life seems to be spinning out of control.

Pursuing/overpursuing your partner: 

Trying to win your partner back through attention and physical contact or affection.

Why do I do this:  When there’s distance, it’s natural to try to bridge the gap.

Why it doesn’t work: Like you, your partner is in a scary and vulnerable place.  Giving them more attention comes from your own needs and ignores what they want or need.  It actually makes you seem less attractive.

Do Instead:  Neither pursue, nor withdraw.  Stay centered and work on yourself.

Getting angry and judgmental:

Trying to change your partner’s mind through scolding or shaming, talking badly about your partner to the kids, and/or triangulating with other family and friends.

Why do I do this: Maybe they will see the error of their ways or more critically evaluate the decision.

Why it doesn’t work: Just when your partner needs empathy and understanding, they get a barrage of criticism, pushing them farther away.

Do Instead: Process with a trusted person who will keep boundaries.  With your spouse, be courteous and polite. Fake it ‘til you make it if you must.

This emotional style is counterproductive to real changes.

2. Focused

Even if you just had the divorce talk, you get that there’s long standing trouble with your marriage.  You may even understand that you’ve contributed to it and are working to understand your partner’s pain.  You want to bring your best self forward and answer the wake up call. You know that something has to change.

What to do:

  • Work on seeing your own issues and how they may have contributed to problems in the marriage.  
  • Start experimenting with changes and getting outside your comfort zone.
  • Embark on a reevaluation of the direction of your life.  
  • Try to see issues from your partner’s point of view without taking them personally.

This is the ideal emotional style to make real changes.

3. Conflicted

Maybe you’ve been thinking about ending the marriage yourself.  You may go back and forth in your head about the right path. You’re tired of fighting and feeling rejected.  You’re starting to feel burned out and aren’t sure if you have the energy to work on things.

What to do:

In Discernment Counseling, someone has to champion the marriage.  The Leaning In partner is an advocate for staying together. When on the fence, you’re constantly undermining the arguments on both sides.  It’s tough to find a path out when you only take a few steps in any one direction. You can make a decision to explore staying together.

What helps:

Read or listen to the audiobooks from 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce.  

Try one session of Discernment Counseling and see what changes.  

Check out the services page to see if sessions or an intensive workshop is right for you and your relationship.  

This emotional style needs clarity to make real changes.

Hear more from the founder of

Discernment Counseling, Dr. Bill Doherty

Dr. Laura L. Walsh is trained in the Discernment Counseling method of decision making.  She’ll help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.

So, are you the Leaning In partner?

If you recognize yourself within one of the three emotional styles, this gives us a place to start.  I can coach you to become your best self. Discernment Counseling is a structured process for saving your marriage.  Our primary focus is working to get your feet under you, manage anxiety, and figure out your specific steps for the future.  If you’re not already there, we want to move you towards the Focused style. Focused Leaning In partners are ready to do the work.  It gives you a sense of order and control amid the chaos. You cannot control your partner no matter what you do. But you can significantly influence yourself and your feelings to get better wherever you can.  In turn, this will likely affect your partner and not in the ways you’d expect. The magic is in keeping your efforts focused on yourself.

Working on yourself maximizes the potential for the marriage

Almost all the time, the Leaning In partner is convinced that saving the marriage means doing what their partner ‘wants and needs’ and the distance required for personal work is terrifying.  The questions I always as are:

How do you really know what your partner needs?  

Have you asked?

What were the actual words they said?

Often, we think we know what the other person wants.  We’ve either gathered the knowledge through experience or have read their minds.  Stop to evaluate a few things. First, how much of your own story is coloring what you think they need?  Is there a difference between their actual words and the interpretation in your head? We all naturally skew information and determining how far off from their true requests will make you more accurate.  Second, after stripping away the story and getting to the heart of their comments, how healthy is the request? Is it something like wanting you to communicate more frequently or put appropriate limits on your worklife?  Or is your partner requiring you to give up or suppress parts of yourself for them? What is the intention behind the request? There’s a difference between wanting you to get in shape for longevity and your self esteem and wanting the same thing so they don’t have to change their standards of beauty or connect to the real you.  Finally, ask yourself what you think about their request. Is it feasible? Do I want this for myself? Am I willing to give it an honest shot? Taking the example of getting in shape, it is likely the ship has sailed for getting back to your 20 year old body. However, if you’ve neglected your health, are you willing to work on the barriers that have contributed to where you are?  Deciding what is possible and choosing it for yourself is key.

Curious about the Leaning Out partner?  Check out: Are you the Leaning Out partner?

What do you want and need?

It can be difficult to figure out what makes you happy – especially beyond your relationship.  In the Discernment Counseling process, the focus is on learning about yourself and what parts would need to change in this or another relationship.  The sweet spot for working on change is not accommodations to your spouse – it’s aspects of self that are barriers to having a mutually intimate relationship in which both people are well defined individuals with boundaries.

This way of thinking is often foreign to Leaning In partners.  A marriage is on the rocks is a sign the balance is off. Restoring the balance is risky but the rewards are high.  Balance in a healthy, nurturing, and fulfilling relationship requires both partners to give and receive – to make both deposits and withdrawals from the emotional bank account between you.  

Learning to receive love and care is the trickiest part for Leaning In partners.  Maybe you’re thinking, “There hasn’t been a lot of love the receive lately.” This may be true, especially if there’s been distance for years.  Acquiring this skill is still important. In order to get the spiral going in a positive direction, you must be flexible enough to be influenced by your spouse.  This means putting aside your belief that you know the score and can accurately predict the future. Change isn’t possible unless we believe in it. You can start by recognizing the small things and saying something.

The work on yourself is an investment in the marriage.  Take a step back and evaluate your life. Is this how you want to live?  Are you happy? Your natural inclination may be to answer with, “No! My marriage is crumbling!” but that’s not what I mean.  Are you satisfied with your work? Do you take care of yourself, have hobbies, your own friends, and like or even love yourself?  If you’re living a life that is less than satisfactory to you, that’s where we begin.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

If your marriage is on the rocks, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Discernment Counseling is right for you and your relationship.

Below are some resources to help you get some traction.  Also check out 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce for more resources.

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis

Getting Back Together: How To Reconcile with Your Partner-and Make It Last by Bettie B. Youngs

I Wish I Knew This Before My Divorce: Ending the Battle Between Holding On and Letting Go by Elaine O. Foster PhD and Joseph W. Foster

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know navigate the process of deciding to work on yourself as an investment in your marriage?

Are you on the brink of divorce?

Are you on the brink of divorce?

If you or your partner are considering divorce but are not completely sure it’s the best path, you might feel stuck and overwhelmed. Discernment Counseling is designed for you. It’s a chance to slow down, take a breath, and look at your options for the marriage.

Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples.  Usually one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help–and the other is “leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.  Sometimes both people are leaning in or out. The structure and techniques in Discernment Counseling guarantee clarity and a deliberate path forward.

Hear more from the founder of

Discernment Counseling, Dr. Bill Doherty

Dr. Laura is trained in the Discernment Counseling method of decision making.  She’ll help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.

Goals of Discernment Counseling

The goal is for you to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future.  You’re not there to solve your marital problems but to see if they are solvable. You’ll each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage at the moment. There are no sides.

Why not couples counseling?

You may have already tried couples counseling and only gone around and around.  For Discernment Counseling, you’ll come in as a couple but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with Dr. Laura because you are starting out in different places.  

Respect

Dr. Laura has unique ways of respecting your reasons for divorce while exploring the possibility of restoring the marriage to health. By creating an intentional space, we clear the path for straightforward thinking. A surprising clarity emerges as we dig into the old dynamics that kept you both stuck.

Different Conversations

We emphasize the importance of each of you seeing your own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships, even if this one ends.  Nothing is wasted.

How It Works – For Couples

Both people in the relationship attend each session.  The first meeting is two hours. We’ll meet together first, then each person has a one on one with Dr. Walsh.  We’ll come together one last time to discuss how the sessions went and you’ll make a joint decision to come back (or not).  There is a maximum of 5 sessions with a guaranteed outcome of one of three paths. Subsequent meetings are one and a half hours and follow the same structure.  The number of sessions is dependent on the adequate clarity for the decision making process.  If your partner is not ready or unwilling to try Discernment Counseling, Hopeful Spouse or Decision Counseling may be right for you.

Why is there a maximum of 5 sessions?

The maximum of five counseling sessions is designed to move you both towards action.  Remember that Discernment Counseling is about making decisions, not changes.  If you both commit to marital counseling, you’ll have plenty of time to work on the issues.  The first session of Discernment Counseling is usually two hours and the subsequent are 1.5 or 2 hours.  Insurance may cover some or all of the cost.  You’ll automatically receive a superbill for out of network reimbursement if you have this benefit.

When is Discernment Counseling not the right solution?

  • When one partner has already made a final decision to divorce.
  • When one partner is coercing the other to participate.
  • When there is danger of domestic violence.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

If your marriage is on the rocks, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Discernment Counseling is right for you and your relationship.

Below are some resources to help you get some traction.  Also check out 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce for more resources.

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis

I Wish I Knew This Before My Divorce: Ending the Battle Between Holding On and Letting Go by Elaine O. Foster PhD and Joseph W. Foster

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know navigate the process of deciding to work on your marriage or deciding to let go?

Is ADHD affecting your marriage?

Is ADHD affecting your marriage?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) looks differently in adult than the stereotyped beliefs we have about kids with ADHD.  In adults, there’s still symptoms such as distractability, disorganization, and impulsiveness.  However, many of the symptoms show up in a more coded way.  This is especially evident in relationships as spouses translate the ADHD person’s behavior through their own lens.

ADHD Statistics

%

Greater chance of being in a car crash

Times the substance abuse rates above the national average for those with untreated ADHD.

%

Cases of Adults have Severe ADHD

%

ADHD Adults diagnosed with Anxiety

Forgetfulness

Forgetting to do promised tasks can lead to a state of distrust between partner.  A pattern of forgetting can lead one’s partner to feel as though they must remember for the both of you.  Dangerous territory, it pushes one person into the parent role as the other seemingly take on the child one.

Cluttered Disorganization

Often times, cleaniless values in couples do not align.  One person may require the house to be at a particular standard in order for it to feel clean.  The other, often the ADHD partner, lacks attention to detail and may not even see a mess when there is one.  More communication is needed to get on the same page.

Strong Emotions

A lesser known hallmark of ADHD is a disinhibition of emotions.  We can understand how impulsivity results in blurted out thoughts and the same process happens with emotions.  Problematic during arguments, the ADHD spouse is more likely to get “flooded” by strong emotions that they have difficulty moderating.

Distracted Conversations

The ADHD partner may have every intent on closely listening to their spouse’s day.  This may also be biologically understimulating resulting in strategies to cope such as also being on their phone or doing another task.  Unintentionally, this gives the non-ADHD spouse the message that what they are talking about is not important.

While the ADHD spouse must ask for a lot of grace with their symptoms, there are strategies to improve – especially when it’s affecting the marriage.  Both parties can help the situation by educating themselves and trying new methods of communicating.  Below are some resources to assist both of you.

If ADHD has deteriorated communication and functioning in your marriage, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Decision Counseling is right for you and your relationship.

The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov

Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder by Gina Pera

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey

You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo

The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals by Lidia Zylowska

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know successfully manage ADHD in marriage?

Surviving Narcissistic Abuse

Surviving Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissist

Charmers that cut with the tongue.  We’ve all known someone like this.

I’d like to start with saying it’s not your fault.  But you can do something about it.  Narcissists look for targets and find them often in the most empathic people.  We are willing to give.  That’s a good thing.  The problem with Narcissists is they suck you dry and spit you out.  Their emptiness is an eternal search for Narcissistic Supply.

What is Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissistic supply is attention.  Any sort of attention.  The Narcissist starts the relationship with Love Bombing to hook you.  Love bombing is showering you with sunshine and light.  Intense adoration makes you feel like you’re the center of the universe.  It’s disarming and brings down your natural defenses.  We don’t expect abuse when someone is treating us this way.  Once you’re convinced of the special bond between you, the sun shines elsewhere.  It’s confusing and you miss it.  You try to get back to how things were.  If you don’t succeed, you might start to wander.  The Narcissist sees this as a threat and is compelled to pull you back in.  If their effects don’t succeed with the sweetness of “hoovering” (or they don’t feel like it), they’ll get any kind of attention they can manage to extract from you.  Making you feel crazy by gaslighting, turning an argument back to your fault, and cutting you down then lifting you up are all tactics.  The supply is your reaction.  It’s validating to the Narcissist.  It proves they matter.  Reactions, especially strong ones, reinforce the Narcissist’s value, worth, and existance.

Starving the Narcissist with the Grey Rock Method

I’m simplifying this process on purpose to get across the point.  Once you realize who you’re dealing with, the only way to manage it is to starve the Narcissist of attention.  This is called the “Grey Rock” method.  You cease utility to the Narcissist by cutting them off from your supply.  If you must stay in contact with the person, keep your outward reactions as bland and curt as possible.  Don’t give them anything to work with and they will move on.  Though, as long as you’re still in contact, they’ll keep trying.

Signs of Narcissist Abuse in Relationships

Our friends at How to Kill a Narcissist offer some great advice.  Here’s a preview:

Are you in an abusive relationship with a Narcissist?

  • It’s unbalanced: The other person seems to have the upper hand and the final say, and you have to struggle to get an equal footing with them. Their problems get top priority. When you try to express or assert yourself, the other person finds a way to subdue you and bring the focus back to them.
  • It’s manipulative: Like being under a spell, the other person seems to have an uncanny ability to pull your strings and get their way with you. Often you don’t want them to, but it just happens. When you try to influence them in any way, you’re met with so many obstacles you give up.
  • It’s intrusive: They have a permanent place in your mind. There doesn’t seem to be any psychological separation between you and them, and they enter your emotional space effortlessly. You find yourself craving some separation and psychological ‘air’, but end up feeling enormous guilt. Being a distinct individual in control of your destiny does not feel like an option with them in your life.
  • It’s rigid: You don’t experience much growth from the relationship, and it doesn’t go anywhere fast. It feels ritualistic, and you wish there were more to it.
  • It’s exhausting: You walk on eggshells around that person. There’s no particular reason. Simply being around them makes you anxious, like you don’t quite stack up and you have to prove yourself to them.

Narcissists are our spouses, friends, and family members.  Whether you’re ready to leave or are recovering from Narcissistic Abuse, here are a few resources to help.

Start Here: A Crash Course in Understanding, Navigating, and Healing From Narcissistic Abuse by Dana Morningstar

Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason MS and Randi Kreger

How To Kill A Narcissist: Debunking The Myth Of Narcissism And Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse by JH Simon

What are your recommendations?  What resources have helped you or someone you know get through leaving an abusive relationship?

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You can find a solution. 

Join the tribe and get stronger.

Best 3 Co-Parenting Books of the Year

Best 3 Co-Parenting Books of the Year

Co-parenting with your ex is a whole new set of skills.  Chances are, how you were together when you were married will play out with parenting solo.  Did you generally agree along the same values?  Were you both at odds with key issues?  These things don’t magically resolve now that you’re two households.  There are methods of getting on the same page – even when your former spouse would rather cause trouble.

Mindful Co-parenting: A Child-Friendly Path through Divorce 1st Edition by Jeremy S. Gaies, Psy.D. and James B. Morris, Jr., Ph.D.

The Co-Parenting Survival Guide: Letting Go of Conflict After a Difficult Divorce by Elizabeth Thayer Ph.D. and Jeffrey Zimmerman Ph.D.

Divorce Poison New and Updated Edition: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know get through co-parenting years?

Subscribe.

Sharing the most useful stories and tips for people like you and your situation. 

You can find a solution. 

Join the tribe and get stronger.

6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce

6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce

Facing the prospect of divorce is never easy.  Even when there are clear signs.  A shared life, especially when kids are involved, make the decision to divorce more complex.  Whether you’re conflicted but leaning out or committed to saving your marriage and leaning in, something must change.  These books can help you think through your options.

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis

Getting Back Together: How To Reconcile with Your Partner-and Make It Last by Bettie B. Youngs

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine

I Wish I Knew This Before My Divorce: Ending the Battle Between Holding On and Letting Go by Elaine O. Foster PhD and Joseph W. Foster

I Love You, but I’m Not IN Love with You: Seven Steps to Saving Your Relationship by Andrew G. Marshall

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know go through this difficult stage?

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