Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Update on Marriage Skills and Marriage Counseling

                                      Update on Marriage Skills and Marriage Counseling


This month I had an urge to write about this topic which is of great importance to our lives and  the lives of our families and our children as well as their marriages when they are of age. As I thought about all the things I wanted to say, they sounded familiar and I decided I'd better check on my website to review articles I've already written. Lo and behold I found 11 articles in this Reading Room on marriage issues with an additional five articles in this Reading Room and one in the Advice Line section on infidelity. With 17 articles, I did cover a lot of my major points and so I'll use this article to overview my thoughts on these issues. Let me add a caveat. I realize these days that long-term relationships are not always marriages. Similar issues and useful skills can be found in all kinds of relationships between all kinds of individuals.


Start with the article "New Years Resolution: A Good Marriage." With so many marriages ending in divorce, we do need an overview of the kind of issues which can be encountered while building a good long-term marriage. This research-based article will provide you with a realistic but also optimistic perspective about the kinds of problems that can be resolved in maintaining a positive long-term marriage relationship.  Next I'd look for an article entitled "Learning Marriage Skills: An Approach to Premarital and Marital Counseling." You'll find therein an explanation of the fact that marriages, like all important areas of our lives, are based upon learning and practicing relationship skills with our partner. You didn't learn to read by going to the library and picking out the nicest book with the most attractive cover. Instead, you learned reading skills and now you are able to zip into the library or sign onto Amazon to find your desired reading materials.


Two articles discuss the issue that marriage counseling is a good long-term investment. The article "Treat Your Marriage Like Your Teeth!" discusses the startling fact that our society values dental health more than marital health in terms of a long-term investment. Think about it! Another article "Marriage Counseling: For Us?" provides additional information as to when you should consider this type of intervention. The article also points out that an individual can single-handedly improve their marriage by participating in counseling by themselves even when their partner is reluctant (afraid? embarrassed? defensive?) The article "Marital Conflict: Search for the Guilty" provides additional information about whether one or both partners should be involved in efforts to improve the marriage with marriage counseling.


The major skill issues can be grouped into issues of managing conflict and improving the positive love relationship. Sometimes, as mentioned in the previous article, people are too angry and enmeshed in conflict to work on improving positive relationship issues. Then you may want to start with the article "How to Argue and Stay Married." It's a classic! The article really should be titled how to avoid arguments by managing disputes productively.  The next article, "Rebuilding your Marriage" follows up by discussing issues in handling negativity and moving into positive skill building.  “Do You Listen to Your Spouse?" teaches effective communication skills in a relationship. The truth is that almost all of us stop listening and start formulating our response way before our partner has finished speaking. Pay attention to your listening skills and you'll find out that everyone can improve considerably in this area. 


The article "Mind Reading in a Good Marriage"  provides a link between conflict resolution skills and positive investments in your marriage love bank, both critically important in maintaining a good long term marriage relationship.  The previously mentioned article, "Treat Your Marriage Like Your Teeth" discussed the concept of investment in your love bank while the article "Keeping Your Love Alive" provides how-to information as well as introduces the idea of love languages.


Other articles discuss issues that are found in some marriages but not all. The article "Marriage Counseling, Coaching and ADD" discusses a possibly significant issue when a spouse is experiencing serious problems with an attention deficit disorder. A significant and devastating problem is introduced with the problem of infidelity. The article in the Advice Line section of this website "Fidelity in Marriage" describes the problem which can arise when consulting written materials about infidelity. Written materials may introduce suspiciousness into an otherwise faithful marriage. But infidelity is a real and significant problem in a marriage and in almost every instance will require assistance from a trained professional. The last five articles in the Reading Room provide assistance in sorting out and possibly resolving this difficult problem.


I do not wish to indicate that all marriage relationship issues need to be resolved with marriage counseling. In fact, marriage counseling is not wildly successful when the couple’s problems have intensified and positions become hardened. Marriage counseling is usually effective as a preventive or early intervention strategy. When marriage counseling is indicated, the good news is that insurance policies cover this as a form of family therapy. Many of the articles on my website also reference books and other resources which can be used to improve marriages whether counseling is or is not an option.


Dear reader, you may be frustrated that my articles are not arranged in alphabetical order. They are added as I write and publish them. My priority is helping people psychologically which apparently has not extended to helping them alphabetically. My intent to alphabetize my articles is on my long "To do when I have time" list. As for now, please meander through the articles. Maybe you'll find something else you would like to read!