Category Archives: Couples Counseling

5 Reasons to Get Marriage Counseling

reasons-marriage-counseling

Do we need marriage counseling? This is a question you may ask after a big fight or sudden revelation in your relationship. Most people assume that marriage counseling is only for people on the brink of divorce. That is not the case though. You can benefit from marriage counseling at any stage of your marriage, even if you are on good terms.

Here are some reasons to seek marriage counseling, courtesy of Perspectives Counseling Centers.

You Repeatedly Have the Same Arguments

If you feel like your arguments recirculate time and time again, you may consider marriage counseling. Circular arguments usually come from two sources: the inability to bring closure to past arguments and ineffective communication strategies. With marriage counseling, you can finally put an end to ongoing disputes, and you can learn how to prevent new ones in the future.

You Feel an Imbalance of Responsibilities

Does your relationship feel one-sided? This is also something you can resolve through marriage counseling. There are many ways to create balance in a household. You and your spouse can come up with a way to ease the burden both of you feel. This applies to household and financial responsibilities. Your marriage counselor will be there to guide you every step of the way.

You Have a Hard Time Expressing Your Emotions

Some couples have a hard time getting through to one another. You may feel like you’re expressing yourself clearly, but your spouse does not fully understand your feelings and emotions. Couples counseling will teach you how to communicate with one another in a way that fits both your needs. You can learn to be more vulnerable and expressive, and you can gain insight into your spouse’s perspective.

You Have Gone through a Traumatic Event

Trauma, in all forms, can be challenging for couples to overcome. Going through a traumatic event changes a person, so you must adapt to the changes you each have gone through. If you experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of a pregnancy, a major financial loss, a severe car accident, or any other traumatic event, consider going through marriage counseling. You can overcome this, and best of all, you can do it together.

Something Feels “Off”

We hear this all the time in marriage counseling. “I don’t know what’s wrong, but something just feels off.” Maybe there is a distance in your relationship that wasn’t there before. Perhaps the stress of work, raising children, or managing a household has dampened your once vibrant spirit. Through marriage counseling, you can find the source of the issue and come up with a plan to overcome it.

Perspectives Counseling Centers offers marriage counseling in Michigan. We have multiple locations to serve you, and they all have licensed marriage counselors on staff. If you and your spouse are interested in couples therapy, give us a call at (248) 244-8644.

Knowing When to Seek Marriage Counseling

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Do we need marriage counseling? Will couples counseling help our marriage? These are questions you may ask after an argument or major life transition. Nearly every couple can benefit from marriage counseling in some way. You simply have to determine if the benefits are right for you. Let’s take a closer look at how couples therapy works so you can know when to seek marriage counseling.

What Marriage Counseling Can Do for You

In order to decide if marriage counseling is right for you, you need to understand the benefits of it. Each couple has a unique experience with marriage therapy, depending on their situation. Some common goals of marriage counseling include:

  • Improve communication skills to resolve conflicts and prevent future arguments
  • Overcome difficult obstacles in the marriage, such as stress or infidelity
  • Create a healthy balance of responsibilities and time spent together
  • Discuss disagreements in an open, judgement-free setting
  • Express your thoughts and feelings, and learn about your spouse’s concerns
  • Get personalized advice to resolve marital disputes
  • Bring closure to past events that continue to affect your marriage
  • Rebuild trust and strengthen your bond with one another
  • Find the root cause of your marital disputes so you can conquer them at the source

Your goals for marriage counseling may be different than someone else’s, but the core motive remains the same. Improve your relationship and fortify your commitment to your spouse. That’s what you can achieve through marriage counseling.

Marriage Counseling to Address Current Problems

In terms of when to seek marriage counseling, many couples come to our Michigan counseling centers to address a specific issue. For instance, there may be a circular argument that you and your spouse have repeatedly. Marriage counseling could help you break the cycle and resolve that longstanding conflict. You may have also gone through a traumatic experience that you would like guidance for. Your marriage counselor will help you find coping strategies so you can support one another at this time.

Marriage Counseling to Prevent Future Problems

Marriage counseling can be preventative and reactive. While it is beneficial for resolving current conflicts, it is even more helpful at preventing future conflicts. As you improve your communication, you can express your thoughts in an effective, non-confrontational way. Disputes start as discussions, and you can keep them at that stage with the lessons learned through marriage counseling.

Simply put, you can seek marriage counseling at any time. Whether you’re dealing with serious issues in your relationship or you just want to bond more with your spouse, couples therapy can help.

Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644 to Schedule an Appointment with a Marriage Counselor near You

How Long Should Our Engagement Be? Premarital Counseling

engagement

You recently got engaged, and you’re starting to plan your wedding. A big question on your mind is, “How long should our engagement be?” Should you wait six months to get married, or should you stay engaged for a couple years? How long is too long, and how short is too short? We’re here to answer those questions and more, with tips from our premarital counselors in Michigan.

Factors That Influence Engagement Timing

Before we explain the theoretical ‘right’ length of engagement, it’s important to note that every couple is different. There are also many factors that determine how long a couple stays engaged. Some of these might be beyond your control. Some factors that influence engagement time include:

  • How long it takes to plan your wedding
  • When your wedding venue comes available
  • Financial hurdles you have to overcome (paying down debts, making wedding deposits, finding a house, etc.)
  • Personal circumstances, such as a special date for your wedding or an event your wedding must come before
  • How long you have been dating one another
  • Citizenship planning, for international couples
  • Pregnancy and childbirth, if applicable
  • Your personalities

The Average Length of Engagement

If you look up the average timeframe for engagement, the answer will vary based on this source that you read. From our experience working with couples in premarital counseling, most engagements last at least six months, with an average time of one to one and a half years. With that in mind, there are many couples that stay engaged for years and go on to have wonderful marriages. There are also couples that are only engaged for a few short months, and they are able to have successful marriages. You and your fiancé can find a timeframe that works best for your lifestyles and your relationship.

Benefits of Having a Long Engagement

There are some benefits to being engaged for a year or longer. If you decide to live together, this gives you a chance to interact with your future spouse on a daily basis. You can see his or her quirks and notice potential annoyances that you may not have seen before. This is not to say that you will end your relationship because you are spending extra time together. It simply means that you can be prepared for what’s to come in married life.

If you do not choose to live together, having a long engagement still gives you a chance to work out your finances, determine your living situation, get to know each other’s family, and go through other steps in preparation for marriage. The better prepared you are comment the easier what it will be to get to those first few transition years.

How to Ensure a Long, Happy Marriage

The key to having a successful marriage is knowing how to communicate with your spouse. You can prevent or resolve conflicts with ease just by expressing your feelings effectively. This is one of the tasks we focus on in premarital counseling and marriage counseling. It is also something you can work on in your day-to-day life.

If you are interested in premarital counseling, marriage counseling, or couples counseling at Perspectives Counseling Centers, give us a call at (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment.

Debt Prevention Tips for Married Couples | Marriage Counseling Michigan

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Debt can seriously damage a marriage, more so than most couples realize. The stress of this financial burden weighs heavily on the household, turning small disagreements into major arguments. If you can keep debt to a minimum, you and your spouse can enjoy a better quality of life. Check out these debt prevention tips for married couples, courtesy of Perspectives Counseling Centers in Michigan.

Say No to Small Purchases

Debt doesn’t always come from big purchases. It’s the small transactions that add up in the end. That impulse buy at the checkout line or that extra cup of restaurant coffee can become a much bigger issue when compiled with other purchases. Make an effort to turn down impulse buys. The split-second satisfaction you get from them usually isn’t worth the money you lose. Save that money for something more significant, like an improvement on your house or a nice dinner as a couple. You will get much more satisfaction from that in the end.

Stop Revenge Spending

This is a common scenario in marriage counseling. “He went out and bought this, so I bought myself that.” Spouses often use money to get revenge on one another. They compete to outspend each other, but that only hurts the family in the long run. If one of you has a shopping addiction, talk about it. If you both have spending problems, talk about that as well. If you’re in marriage counseling, you can talk to your counselor about these issues. He or she will help you create a plan that minimizes stress in the household.

Save instead of Borrowing

Instead of buying a new piece of furniture on credit, save money each month for the purchase. Once you have enough money saved, watch for a sale and make your purchase. When you borrow money, you pay more for a product because of interest. Even if you get an interest-free loan, you train your brain to borrow instead of save. This could lead to costly spending habits in the future. Practice patience, and you will be able to make your purchase in no time.

Have Honest Conversations about Household Finances

You’re married, which means you should be able to trust your spouse with your financial information. Be transparent about each of your income and the household bills. In a recent study, 54% of married couples who said their relationship was ‘great’ talked about their finances on a daily or weekly basis. By comparison, only 29% of respondents in ‘okay’ or ‘in crisis’ had frequent money talks.

Ideally, you should start talking about money before marriage. This creates a healthy flow of communication for the future. If you are already married though, it’s never too late to start. Sit down with your spouse and have a serious talk about income, bills, budgeting, and long-term financial goals.  When you get on the same page about household spending, it is much easier to avoid debt as a married couple.

For additional assistance managing money and stress in a marriage, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers. Our marriage counselors in Michigan can help you overcome conflicts in your relationship and strengthen your marital bond.

How Debt Could Damage Your Marriage | Marriage Counseling Michigan

debt-marriage

Money problems are some of the biggest reasons why couples fight. Stress about paying the bills and having enough money to live on can weight down on a marriage. The effects of debt are more powerful than most people realize. Let’s take a closer look at how debt can damage your marriage, and what you can do to get out of debt.

The Side Effects of Debt

Debt = stress. It may be subtle stress day to day, or it may be major stress that hits with every monthly payment. No matter what form it takes though, it is stress. Any issues that you already have in your marriage will naturally be enhanced when you feel stressed. The stress makes it difficult for your mind to process emotions in a healthy manner, which may cause you to lash out at your spouse.

Debt is a catalyst for marital fights. Getting it under control will help you maintain peace in the household.

How to Avoid Debt before Marriage

If you can go into married without debt, that is ideal. However, that may be unavoidable in certain circumstances. You may have old medical bills or student loans to pay off that will take years to repay. In that case, make sure your spouse is aware of your debts before marriage.

Some debts are avoidable though, such as credit card bills and small personal loans. Stay away from furniture and electronics at buy here pay here retailers. Unless you pay those off in the 3-4 month same-as-cash timeframe, you’ll end up spending two to three times more to get a product there. Buy secondhand furniture, watch for big sales, or simply save up to get the items you want. The stress you’ll feel with those high monthly payments is not healthy for your future marriage.

Be mindful of your spending when it comes to the wedding. Couples spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single event, but that money could be going toward a house, a vehicle, or other big purchases. Keep your costs as low as possible, and avoid going into debt because of marriage.

How to Pay off Debt during Your Marriage

Here are some quick tips for paying off debt while married:

  • Identify which debts you want to pay off first. You could use the snowball method, where you pay small debts and work up to larger ones, or you could pay off the debts that cause the most stress each month.
  • Determine who is responsible for each debt (if there are two incomes). A recent study from Fidelity Investments showed that 49% of married couples contradicted each other when identifying this responsibility. You could both work to pay off one debt quickly, or you could pay off multiple debts separately. Just make sure you have a plan.
  • Put as much money as you can toward your debt. You should still be saving a little money each month, but try to get out of debt fast. That will free up more money for future savings, and it will reduce the amount of interest that you pay.
  • Know your monthly budget and stick to it. Leave room for some fun experiences, like date nights or family outings. Make debt repayment part of your bill structure. If you need to cut back on something, like reducing your phone or cable plan, do so until your debts are eliminated.
  • Once a debt is repaid, use that monthly money to pay off another debt. If you were paying $500 a month on student loans, that money can now go to your credit cards. If you have no more small debt to pay, consider paying off your house or car faster. Once all that is done, you can put the extra money into savings every month.

The faster you get out of debt, the better you will feel. You may also use our debt prevention tips to stay out of debt in the future. Keep the stress to a minimum, and you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your relationship.

Getting through Your First Big Fight as a Married Couple

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We’re in the wake of wedding season, which is why all month long we’re giving out helpful tips for engaged and married couples. In today’s discussion, we want to talk about arguments, specifically the first big argument in a marriage. No matter how well you get along, you and your spouse are bound to disagree at some point. With these suggestions from our marriage counselors in Michigan, you can learn how to bounce back when that happens.

Remain Calm

You may begin panicking when the argument escalates because it’s your ‘first big fight.’ This might happen right away – on your wedding night, on your honeymoon, or in the weeks that follow. Don’t stress about the timeframe. Disagreements happen in all relationships, and it’s OK that you’re in one. Stay calm to avoid escalating the problem.

Validate Your Spouse’s Opinion

In an argument, most people focus on getting their point across. If your mind is solely locked into that philosophy though, you may be paying full attention to your spouse. Instead of trying to persuade your spouse, spend some time validating his or her opinion. Ask questions that help you understand your spouse’s point even further, and show that you can see his or her perspective. If you engage with your spouse, he or she is more likely to engage in return. That’s the start of productive conflict resolution.

Get to the Root of the Issue (It’s Most Likely STRESS)

There may be an issue below the surface that needs to be resolved. You probably aren’t mad that the dishes aren’t finished. Instead, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of housework that needs to be done. Those dishes seem like one more task to add to a never-ending list.

Being married is not always easy, and it can be particularly stressful early on. If you can get to the root cause of your arguments, you can come up with a productive solution for them.

Find a Solution, Or Accept That There Isn’t One

Compromise with your spouse and work out a solution for the issue. If there isn’t a logical solution at hand, you may simply agree to disagree. How significant is this argument in the grand scheme of things? Is it a make or break moment, or is it just an annoyance you can get over? Not every argument has a conclusion because some aren’t worth the time or energy to conclude. If this is one of those arguments, agree to move forward.

If you have an ongoing disagreement that you need help resolving, consider talking to a marriage counselor. This person will provide a professional, unbiased perspective on the matter to guide you to a solution. Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers in Michigan to find an experienced marriage counselor near you.

Why Do People Cheat in Relationships? Couples Counseling in Michigan

why people cheat

Cheating is a deal-breaker in most relationships, but infidelity occurs in nearly one-third of all marriages. It is possible to maintain a relationship after infidelity, but not without its challenges. The best option is to prevent infidelity from occurring in the first place.

This brings up an important question – why do people cheat in relationships? What are the most common causes of infidelity? We will answer those questions and others in this couples counseling guide.

A Person’s Personality

Some people are simply more prone to cheating than others. This is not an excuse for the behavior, but it is something to keep in mind. For instance, men ten to have a higher sex drive than women because of their testosterone. Thus they are more likely to cheat than women, even though women cheat as well. Someone who has issues with commitment might cheat on their partner as a form of self-sabotage. These personality traits can be controlled with determination or individual counseling, but some people give in to their mind and body’s inherent urges.

Struggles in the Relationship

Perhaps the most common reason people cheat is because they are not happy with some element of their relationship. This may have nothing to do with sex. In fact, many people cheat when they have a happy, healthy sex life at home. The infidelity may be a way of seeking additional attention, affirmation or appreciation. If a person does not feel validated in his or her relationship, he or she may look for that validation elsewhere.

If you have felt that way in your relationship, you may consider couples counseling. This can help you work through the issues in your relationship that could lead to infidelity. A lack of trust, jealousy, codependency, poor communication or an imbalance of responsibilities can make you feel disconnected from your significant other. With couples counseling, you’ll overcome those obstacles and strengthen your bond with one another.

Strong, Persistent Temptations

Last but not least, some people are prone to cheating because of the situation they are in. If someone spends a great deal of alone time with another person at work, he or she may develop feelings for the other person. Again, this is not an excuse for infidelity. It is merely an explanation for it. There are plenty of people who are able to push through the temptations without cheating on their spouses.

If you and your significant other are interested in couples counseling in Michigan, contact one of the Perspectives Counseling Centers near you.

Do You Love Your Smartphone More Than Your Spouse? | Marriage Counseling Troy, MI

smartphone marriage

Smartphone addiction has become so common that most people laugh about their connection with their phones. “Mary, you’re on your phone too much.” “Haha, I know right?” It’s considered the norm now, to the point that addicts are not seeking help for a growing problem.

The reason why most do not get help for smartphone addiction is because they see nothing wrong with it. They’re not physically hurting their bodies like they would with drugs or alcohol, and they are not going into debt like they would with gambling.

But what about the emotional effects of smartphone addiction? Particularly in the case of married couples. Your smartphone dependency could be doing more damage than you realize.

You Can’t Truly Listen When You’re On Your Phone

We’ve all this before. We grab our phones in the middle of a conversation just to “check” something, but we still continue talking to the person in front of us. While you may be able to pick up on parts of the conversation, you cannot fully absorb what the other person is saying. That is why there is a few seconds of silence before you respond. Your brain has to turn off its attention to your phone and turn on its attention to the conversation.

Listening is important in a relationship because it allows you to understand your spouse’s perspective. If the same subject comes up in a later conversation, you will have absorbed the information and you will have a response for it. Your focus is entirely on your spouse when you’re not on the phone, so your brain is not trying to process two sets of information simultaneously.

You Care More About The Outside World Than You Do Your Relationship

At least, that’s what your spouse feels like. If you spend most of your time together constantly on your phone, you’re not interested in the here and now. You’d rather talk to friends or check posts on social media than watch a movie with your spouse or have a conversation. That can do significant damage to your spouse’s self-esteem, and it can create a wedge between you two.

Smartphones Make Intimacy Less Desirable

A recent study showed that one in three Americans would rather give up sex for three months than give up their smartphones for a week. That is an alarming number considering how desirable sex was considered a few decades ago.

Smartphones and sex release the same “happy chemicals” in our brains. Every time you get a text or social media notification, a small dose of dopamine comes out. You get a much larger dose from intimacy, but the small doses throughout the day are enough to satisfy your needs. It may get to a point where you are more focused on chasing the high from your smartphone than you are in building a strong connection with your spouse.

So, What’s The Solution?

Reducing smartphone dependency involves several components:

  • Acknowledge the problem.
  • Identify specific, measurable goals to reduce smartphone use in the home. (Example: I will only be on my phone for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night)
  • Turn phones off or on silence during family time.
  • If necessary, put your phones in another room to prevent the temptation to check them.
  • Do not use your smartphone during the last 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This is time you can talk to your spouse, wind down for the night, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • During your days off, consider going unplugged. Turn off your phones for the entire day and focus on your marriage and your family.
  • Work with a marriage counselor to improve your communication skills, learn effective conflict resolution strategies, and create a stronger bond in your relationship.

Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers in Troy, MI and surrounding areas of Metro Detroit to schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor near you.

Why It’s OK To Go To Bed Angry | Michigan Couples Counseling

go bed angry

From an early age, most of us are taught not to go to bed angry. Every problem has to be resolved before bed, or it will mysteriously get ten times worse by morning. While there is merit to timely conflict resolution, sometimes it’s better to go to bed angry. Here are some couples counseling tips to help you decide when.

A Problem Now May Not Be A Problem Tomorrow

There is a strong chance that you will wake up in the morning not even thinking about the previous night’s discussion. A small conflict that is not worth fighting over will be forgotten after a night of rest. If you are still upset in the morning, then you know you feel strongly about the issue. You can re-start the discussion with a fresh perspective and clear frame of mind, which will ultimately provide a better resolution.

This piggy-backs on the idea of “leave it to Sunday.” In that setup, a couple will make note of any arguments they had during the week and discuss them all on Sunday (or another designated day). Some of the arguments from earlier in the week may seem silly or pointless by Sunday. Those can be pushed aside. This does not work for all couples counseling scenarios, but it does work for some.

Going To Bed Can Stop The Argument’s Progression

Most big arguments are compilations of miniature arguments. They build up until neither participant remembers the original source of the conflict. Have you ever felt caught in a circular argument? Everything you say makes the situation worse, and everything you hear only hurts more. If you agree to pause for the night, you can prevent this escalation from occurring. As long as you both approach the re-discussion with an open mind, you should come to a resolution.

There Isn’t Always A Resolution

Believe it or not, you don’t have to have “closure” in every argument. There are times when you simply agree to disagree. You should not do this throughout your marriage, but you should learn when a topic is worth fighting over. Prioritize your frustration. Is this a make or break moment? Will you even remember this argument next week? If you can let go of frivolous emotions, you can focus on the important elements of your relationship.

This Is An Argument Best Resolved In Couples Counseling

Your partner isn’t listening to you, and you can’t understand his or her perspective. That sounds like an argument best resolved in couples counseling. If you already have a couples counselor, write down the topic at hand and discuss both sides during your next argument. Your counselor will provide an unbiased view, and he or she will help you come to a resolution.

If you are not in couples counseling at this time, there is no better time to start. Our couples counseling programs in Michigan are designed for every stage of your relationship, from premarital counseling to divorce prevention and more. Contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers to schedule an appointment with a specialist, and we will help you strengthen your relationship for the future.

Is A Lack Of Sleep Hurting Your Relationship? MI Couples Counseling

sleep deprivation

Many adults do not get the full eight hours of sleep they need per night. A new baby, a hectic work schedule, stress, anxiety, and many other factors may contribute to this lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is more than just an annoyance though. It could take a toll on your social life. Let’s explore how limited sleep may hurt your relationship and what you can do to correct that.

Crankiness And Irritability

Sleep deprivation can make you more irritable. Small issues that you would normally brush off become huge sources of conflicts. These conflicts can drive a wedge in your relationship. Your spouse now feels picked on, like a constant target for your frustration. He or she may even think you have anger management issues because of your overly sensitive reactions.

What causes this crankiness? As you sleep, your brain has a chance to sort through all the information you processed that day – emotions, memories, tasks at work, etc. If you do not get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t get everything sorted for the next day. It’s like walking into an office with papers all over the desk and plopping a new file on top. Translation: chaos. By getting the proper amount of sleep, you can eliminate some elements of crankiness.

Predictable Routines

Humans thrive on predictable routines. Wake up at a certain time, eat at a certain time, go to bed at a certain time. This isn’t always possible to achieve, but it is ideal. Relationships also thrive on these kinds of routines. Couples that have regular date nights and predictable patterns tend to have less stress as a whole.

Sleeping is a crucial element to these routines. By establishing a bed time for the household, you also set a schedule for conversations and bonding moments. This will help you connect with each other on a regular basis and open the doors for proper communication. This will also help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer because your body will get used to the schedule – eliminating some of the crankiness mentioned above.

Proximity Bonding

You don’t have to be awake to bond with someone. Just being in the same room while you sleep will help you feel closer as a couple. If one person is up watching TV in another room, the person left alone in bed may feel inexplicably distant. If you get in a habit of going to sleep together when possible, you will subtly improve the strength of your relationship.

Tackling Sleep Deprivation In Couples Counseling

Talk about your sleep deprivation during your couples counseling. Your counselor can help you figure out if there are underlying issues triggering your lack of sleep. For instance, depression and anxiety can both influence your sleep patterns. Stress from work or finances are other possible contributors. If you learn what is causing the lack of sleep, you can figure out a way to conquer the cause. This will improve your relationship and speed up the progress of your couples counseling.