Every week I get calls and email inquiring about how I design a treatment plan for relationship and sexual problems. I see each person separately and immediately I see the couple together in a three-hour block. I do not see how therapists can get at the truth of what they need to focus on any other way.

I give homework and home-play. Those who solve their problem do the homework reliably, rather than coming up with a litany of excuses not to do so. Common excuses are being too busy with work, children or going to social events. If your relationship takes a back seat to making more money or going to a sports event, then it is harder to deal with the problem you come to see me about.

couple upsetThose who reschedule regularly often do not complete the treatment process. They are too concerned about working late (a choice) or seeing friends (another choice), or some other priority.

If you choose not to prioritize therapy, don’t go! Some drop out because they are too busy with other activities. What does this say about their commitment to improving their relationship?

Seeing a well-trained and credentialed therapist should be more important than anything else. I see couples going to divorce attorneys because they did not do the work it would require to fix the relationship. I also see those who divorce and end up in my office with a new partner with exactly the same problems.

In many instances, one person wants to come in and do the work, and the other refuses to continue. In these cases, I sometimes advise consulting an attorney. Some marriages should never have happened due to a lack of common values, interests and priorities. Some lack sexual chemistry, which no one can fix. Still other relationships might have worked better if both partners did the work.

Others have the makings for a good relationship, but they choose to cram too much into a day or a week apart from the relationship. Such a choice sometimes is a predictor for an unhappy relationship, or a break up.

As long as the match is reasonably good, it is the choices both partners make that defines the difference between a happy, lasting relationship and an unhappy relationship which may persist, but why? I like to determine if there is something worthwhile to save or not. Sometimes there is so much resentment, fighting and indifference that there is nothing left to save.

I use John Gottman’s insights, which are often helpful, but I believe he underestimates the importance of clear communication, and he certainly fails to grasp how sexual expression fits in with a vibrant couple. Lust is as important as love, and you cannot experience vibrant passion without both lust and love.

Finally, a common excuse not to seek or to continue therapy is the cost of therapy. Whether you have to pay part or all of the fee, such payment is an investment in your relationship. Some seek providers for specialties like sex therapy, which is not a good idea. Most sex therapists are not providers. Specialists are worth considering in spite of cost.

Again, these are choices that some believe are not choices at all. They are wrong!

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