Effective marriage counseling – Part 2

Over the past 35 years, I have treated nearly 1,000 couples (married and unmarried) of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, religion and sexual orientation who have come to me to help them try to solve their various problems. . In my last article, “Ask Beatty: A Unique Approach to Effective Marriage Counseling,” I described my three-step methodology in detail. As a reminder, I do an in-depth couple assessment, which often lasts several hours, followed by detailed individual assessments. Only then am I able to determine if the couple is ready to focus on the couple’s issues or if one or both people need to deal with their unfinished business or their concerns first. skeletons in the closet.

A unique approach for effective marriage counseling: PART I

When the couple are ready to meet, we can focus on the “us” issues that need to be recognized, addressed and resolved, knowing of course that we cannot change history. First, I ask each person to create an agenda and prioritize the issues that need to be addressed. The couple then begin to tackle issues one by one as they begin to learn the crucial art of emotional communication and problem solving.

Couples learn to discuss issues and to make compromises and compromises. They learn that the win / lose model is a disaster for relationships and begin to see the importance of achieving win / win resolutions. I teach them how to say it, if to say it, where to say it, when to say it and how to communicate the most difficult and painful problems in a respectful way. Role-playing is widely used. It helps the couple practice an art form that few of us have ever learned. I am very directive and active throughout the process and will not tolerate any abusive or disrespectful behavior of any kind. As many of my patients work in the entertainment industry, they understand the need and importance of taking as many takes as possible, until they are successful!

There has been a small percentage of couples that I have treated who have decided to divorce. By making this decision, they are now at least aware of what went wrong. Each person is clear about what they did or did not do that contributed to the problems and the subsequent end of their marriage. Most are then able to divorce without the rage and anger that so often accompanies the end of a relationship. Despite the disappointment and pain of ending a marriage, the majority are at peace knowing that they have at least tried to resolve their difficulties with honesty and integrity.

Getting a good divorce is so important, especially when there are children involved. Our children have more than enough adjustments to make as the original family structure changes, including the challenges of dealing with the new reality of different and separate homes, schools, lifestyles and visiting schedules. often different. We must do our utmost to never put them in a situation where they also have to face two parents who are at war with each other.


Names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy and anonymity of my patients.

Joe, 45, and Jane, 40, have been married for five years. This is a second marriage for the two. The Johnsons were referred to me by Joe’s urologist for marriage counseling due to Joe’s lack of interest in sex. When I spoke to Joe’s doctor to rule out any medical issues, he told me that Joe’s testosterone level was normal and he couldn’t find any medical reason for Joe’s lack of sexual desire. The couple had not had sex for more than two years and Jane was growing more and more dejected. Until now, Joe would simply not discuss this matter with his wife, claiming that his work as a leading actor had drained him of all sexual energy.

When I first met Joe and Jane together, Joe admitted his lack of desire, but felt the marriage was happy, despite their sexless relationship. Jane, meanwhile, was devastated and convinced that Joe no longer found her attractive and that he might be having an extramarital affair. When I first met Jane on her own, it was clear to me that her symptoms of depression were clearly understandable under the circumstances and that aside from the sexual issue, Jane appeared to be a very happy woman who loved her life and her husband.


When I met Joe alone, he expressed concern about the confidentiality of our one-on-one session. I assured her that I was legally and ethically bound to honor her privacy. He told me he was gay and he didn’t want his wife or his fans to know about it. Although Joe was not sexually permissive, he did occasionally see a man he had known for many years. He also told me that he loved his wife and did not want a divorce.

However, he made it clear that he had no desire to have sex with her. Other than one occasional evening where he drank too many glasses of wine, Joe seemed basically content with his life and had no desire or need to go out.


It was crucial that I saw Joe alone. If I hadn’t, I would never have known his sexual orientation. I would have spent some time trying to help the couple improve their sex life. I would have encouraged them to have sex dates and, if they were comfortable, to experiment with sex toys and pornography. This, of course, would have been a total waste of everyone’s time, money and energy. Knowing what I knew, I needed to help Jane come to terms with the fact that her husband loves her very much, has no affair, does not want a divorce, but no longer has any interest in sex. She would then have to decide if she would continue to live in a sexless marriage.


Joe, Jane and I met for a session after the first joint visit. Joe was kind but firm. He told her that he loved her, that he found her very attractive physically and intellectually and that he hoped to spend the rest of his life with her. He also told her that the problem was his and that he would understand if she wanted a divorce.

I never heard from Jane or Joe again. A few years later, I ran into Jane at an event. She whispered in my ear that she had divorced Joe and was engaged to a wonderful man. She smiled broadly, confident: “And by the way, our sex life is great!”

Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT is a Nationally Renowned Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist, Author of For Better For Worse Forever: Discover The Path To Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker, guest national radio and television expert and host of The Ask Beatty Show on the progressive radio network. She has private practice in New York and East Hampton.

Beatty would love to hear from you and welcome your questions and comments. Email him at [email protected] or visit beattycohan.com for more information.

Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT

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