Pre-marital / Marital / Relational Therapy

Marriage as an institution has suffered some below-the-belt punches in the last decade. I operate on the premise the anyone embarking on the trip “down the aisle” better know what they are getting into–long before they say “I DO!”

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Marriage is not a 2-way street; it’s a six-lane divided highway under construction in the middle of August, with a group of nuns walking across the roadway pushing baby carriages, uphill, in the snow, both ways.

Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but trust me, the agitation any and all of these bring to travelers with “places to go, things to do, and people to see” pales in comparison to a marriage headed downhill with no brakes. Therapy can offer not only the brakes, but also a well-placed traffic light, cones, flashing signs warning of danger ahead, and a flagman, directing traffic to a safe passage, rather than a detour that ends in divorce.

It’s also a LOT less expensive than a divorce attorney.

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I don’t sugar coat the hard truth. Relationships are WORK.

Relentlessly challenging, all the time, to both parties. It’s not 50-50, it doesn’t fix itself, and it’s not for sissies. Making good on your commitment when the excitement of the day wears thin and the fancy clothes no longer fit–that’s where the rubber meets the road. When you look down at the 3rd finger of the left hand and wonder if you made a mistake. Instead of wondering “Did I marry the wrong person?”, try asking yourself “Have I been the right person? Have I given everything I promised to give while surrounded by friends, family, and well-wishers looking forward to the cake and throwing birdseed at our heads? If not, why not?” What does “til DEATH do you part” mean–like forever?

Add children to this mix and the rules may not change, but the players sure do.

Working through some of the pitfalls to avoid puts you ahead of the game… a game married folks forget how to play by the rules–they just want to win. The prize is worth the risk, if you have a standard and wait until that standard is met, marriage gives an opportunity to grow toward and with someone who chose you, too. Romance aside, love is a choice we make every single day. Marriage offers a safe place to practice loving and BEING loved every single day.

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sometimes, you gotta let it all go
  1. Couples who choose pre-marital therapy give their chances of relationship health an enormous boost. I use a straightforward approach to presenting new couples with likely obstacles they may encounter as they begin their married lives together. I have worked with pre-married couples for nearly a decade as a part of the Twogether in Texas program and have found very few couples who did not report significant benefit to the experience.

  2. I am not neutral about the outcome of marriage therapy; I view preserving a marriage as an outcome to be pursued because I believe healthy marriages are the foundation of a healthy society. When I work with a couple, my client is the relationship between the two of them. I do not keep secrets which may harm the well-being of the client-relationship.

  3. I am also a balanced pragmatist. I understand the marital commitment is not the only object in the frame. I am aware that some relationships are toxic to personal well-being and sometimes clients have already made an irreversible decision to part ways.

  4. I do not promote blind marital commitment but always act with awareness and respect for the safety and human dignity of both partners and the members of their family.

  5. As a marital therapist, I acknowledge clients’ responsibility to make choices about staying together, separating or divorcing. I recognize spouses sometimes have incompatible goals for their marriage and that each partner is responsible for the choices they make.

  6. I offer clients a safe, therapeutic space for self-reflection, discovery, and provide challenges to make positive decisions about the kind of person they want to become in relationship to others. I am not afraid of strong emotion, painful stories, and dark corners.

  7. I encourage clients to build skills necessary to confront and change that which is slowing the achievement of their dreams. I help couples learn a new “dance” for interaction between them. I help them recall what they wanted when they said “I DO!”

  8. I utilize Gottman Marital Therapy methods, as well as Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, to form a foundation of building/rebuilding a relationship from the ground up from the standpoint of the couple’s attachment bonds. I focus on how families of origin and our experiences in the Affective (emotional), Behavioral (actions), and Cognitive (what we think/believe) realms influence our choices in our lives, most prominently in how we live in relationship with others.
around the bend wide
because frankly, conflict in marriage can feel like going around in circles!

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Nothing posted on this site is intended as professional guidance or therapeutic advice of any kind. If you find the material helpful, that’s its intent, but please understand your use of the site should under NO CIRCUMSTANCE be considered a professional therapeutic (or personal) relationship between the user and the author of this site. Leslie LaRo Hayes, Ph.D., LMFT, assumes no responsibility for discomfort or other loss that may result from decisions made after utilizing any part of this website.