Name *


Tools and tips for every day relationship problems. Blog posts on how to stop conflict, how to have more intimacy and how to have better communication with your husband, wife or partner.

The Essential Ingredient to Self-Development

Erika Boissiere

Relationship to Self.jpg

I am perpetually stunned, session after session and find without fail that your primary caregivers, your mother and father will form the blue print for how you are in your adult relationships.

History Repeats Itself

Raised by a rager? You'll either become one, marry one, or swing in the complete opposite direction and become conflict avoidant, only to have rage be within.

Raised by an addict? You'll either become one, marry one, or never touch substances, disgusted by their toxicity, only then to find that your children have become addicts themselves.

Raised by a someone with a mental illness? You'll either inherit their biology, find yourself in a care taking role in your marriage or profession or surround yourself in a community of similar people with the very same issues you saw as a child.

The list can go on and on.

Ask Questions of Your Past

Many of us shirk at the idea that childhood has such an influential role in our adult relationships. "Psychobabble" we say. However, it is through this very introspection, opening one's eyes, asking questions of your past, that we begin to harness real change.

It is through awareness building that we begin to see that there are choices, and with choice, comes power. Power to change, that is.

The Essential Ingredient to Self-Development

Unpack the first chapters of your life to understand your story. From there, you can begin to unravel the most important relationship of all: relationship to self. You will discover what you need, how you need to change, and finally, what you need to be happier in your relationship to yourself and to others.

-- Erika Boissiere is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who specializes in couples therapy, based out of San Francisco, CA. She is also the founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy to couples and relationships.

The Silent Killer in Your Relationship

Erika Boissiere

As a couples therapist, I have a unique window into the world of relationships. I see people from all walks of life, trying to do the best they can. So, what pulls them into couples counseling? There are many things, but the biggest offender that lurks in the shadow is silence. Silence, not in the traditional definition, but rather the continuous dance of holding back speaking your truth.

To diminish silence in your relationship, you must be willing to share your authentic self. You must have the courage to speak your truth, ask difficult questions, and at the same time, hold back the almost knee-jerk response of defensiveness, just long enough to understand your partner’s perspective. It is about allowing the space in your relationship to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Even if just for a moment.

But, as many couples will say in my office, “how do I evoke such an experience? How do I be vulnerable?”

Ask Provocative Questions

While attending a wedding, I stumbled across a set of playing cards strewn across the kitchen table. They looked and felt like your traditional deck of cards, but instead, they had questions on backs of them. As I read each card, my attention deepened. I found myself flipping each card in amazement and thought, “these are the very questions I ask my clients.”

“What are these?” I asked. “Those are the questions from {The And},” I was told.

Topaz Adizes recently won an Emmy Award for displaying the richness in human connection with a project titled, “{The And}.” Topaz and his team created a visual representation of the sometimes overwhelming complexity of relationships, with provocative questions used to help couples bridge the gap between secrecy and intimacy. He even got Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway to sit down, and in moments, had them vulnerable, honest, and extremely real about what it was like to work together.

To see this come alive, {The And} invites couples in for a taped video session, has them sit face to face, and answer a series of relational questions hand selected by his team at the The Skin Deep.

The end result is fascinating, and you’ll see it in their faces: Love, disbelief, curiosity, honor and sadness. But above all, you will see this: connection, and it’s the healthy kind.

If you’re curious to try it out, here are 10 questions selected from their card game.

  1. What do you think I want from life?

  2. What can I do better sexually?

  3. What would make you leave me?

  4. How do you think my early childhood has affected our relationship?

  5. How do I take you for granted?

  6. How have we grown lazy in our relationship?

  7. What are you scared to tell me?

  8. If there was one thing that I still don't understand about you, what is it?

  9. When do you feel closest to me?

  10. What do I do that hurts you the most?

The unspoken truth about relationships is that they are without a shadow of doubt, life’s most cherished asset. If you ask a parent of a newborn, a newly engaged coupled, or someone who has been through a traumatic event, they will all tell you in a heartbeat, it is the relationships that give them meaning. However, somehow we lose track of this perspective.

Like rust, there is a slow build up and then suddenly, a gaping hole. And while we all deeply desire positive relationships, the road to healthy connection is often riddled with complexities. A paradox, no doubt.

Truth-Telling is Harder than You Think

Asking deep questions and speaking truth out loud, whether to ourselves or to our partner is not easy. Many of us avoid it for all sorts of reasons. Some of us fear that if we speak our truth, conflict will ensue. Others avoid speaking their truth because of the feelings of shame and vulnerability are just too tough to experience. We know that in therapy, clients often lie to their therapist out of fear of being judged or feeling embarrassed. It cannot be ignored that some of us care so deeply about our perception, that we’ll lie to ourselves, our partners, and our therapists. Truth-telling is hard.

Some of us fear that if we ask certain questions, our partner might leave us. Whether because of a differing life vision, or something important that we’ve kept tucked inside. To ask it, could mean the end of a relationship.

Truth-telling is the portal to getting you what you want, and allowing the space to honor differences which fosters growth. It is the main ingredient of intimacy and a sense of closeness. It creates a deeper understanding of your partner and yourself.

Without it, your truth remains left unseen, for no one to know except you. Your relationship will encounter the biggest rupture of them all, loneliness and resentment. You’ll likely seek connection through other modes: alcohol, work-a-holism, distance or deception. Something almost everyone wants to avoid.

Relational Bravery

Healthy connection is complex. It is amazing how we all yearn for it, and yet so many of us struggle with our relationships. By allowing and honoring our truths, we allow for our life experience to be enriched. While speaking truth is difficult, we also know one thing for certain; bravery is not easy.

But, it is bravery that makes you grow. And it is growth that creates change.

-- Erika Boissiere is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who specializes in couples therapy, based out of San Francisco, CA. She is also the founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy to couples and relationships.

4 Signs Your Partner Doesn't Love You Anymore

Erika Boissiere

As a couples therapist, one of my hardest moments is when I realize the love is gone from their relationship. Just like watching something die, it never gets easier. The grief. The sadness. The anger. And of course, the mystery of why.

Sometimes these relationships are revivable; and sometimes the heart has just stopped beating and nothing can be done. I try, they try, and then, one of them finally admits; it’s gone – the love, that is.

Many of us want to know the signs. Maybe, if we know them, we can assuage the end of something we deeply love and care about. As a therapist, we teach our clients that with awareness, comes choice; and with choice, comes power. If you are wondering if your relationship is headed for troubled waters, here are the 4 most prominent signs to look for as indicators that your partner may have fallen out of love with you.

Indicator #1: Your partner has given up.

None of us like fighting with our partner; it’s awful. The yelling, the stomping around, or even the classic retreat into the bedroom in hopes that they will come find you.

While these fights, and the countless others, are messy, and terrible in their own right, they do speak to something. The couple has passion. They care about the other person enough to fight with them. And while it is a twisted way of showing love, there is an underlying belief in the relationship, and hope for a better future.

When you start to see that your partner has stopped engaging with you and in general just “doesn’t care anymore,” you should start to wonder if they’ve fallen out love with you. Because, what’s the point of fighting if they’ve given up?

Indicator #2: Ships passing in the night.

When your partner avoids coming home, it doesn’t look like much at first. Little signs like “we feel like ships passing in the night.” Or maybe there is steady ramp up of work trips, and sometimes they make them longer than they need to be. And finally, sometimes they fill their calendars with friends and activities, but none of them involve you. This is a major sign that your partner has been building a life, without you.

We come home because we want to see our partners, we want to feel love, and most of all, we want to feel a source of happiness. If your home has become loveless, fraught with conflict, or lacking meaning, your partner will avoid it for their own psychological survival.

Indicator #3: The sex is gone. Completely.

There are thousands of relationships that have a unique sex life. Some couples have sex 3 times a week, others 3 times a month, and finally, some 3 times a year. And while many of us scour the internet to find the “magic number” to fact check the healthiness of own sexual life, the honest truth is that there is no such number.

This mystical number is the amount that you and your partner decide on to meet each other’s needs. And while no sex-life is “perfect,” your goal should be about trying to reach a middle ground.

However, if you shirk at the idea of having sex, to the point of disgust, your relationship might be near its ending. Sex alone is not an indicator of relational health, but if disgust fills your body at even the idea of kissing your partner; guess who feels it from you? Your partner.

Indicator #4: Your partner is filled with contempt.

All of us have mood fluctuations. We bounce sometimes from emotional state to emotional state. We feel close to our partner, and sometimes distant. We have a great weekend with them, and sometimes just a bad night. Having varying mood states towards your partner is normal, and a very relational way to live on this planet.

However, one sign you want to pay attention to is when you see a consistent mood that permeates the relationship. The mood to look for? Contempt. When your partner appears consistently disgusted by your presence; mean to you, sarcastic, disrespectful; this is a major sign that your relationship may be near its end.

All of us want and deserve to be loved. However, there is nothing more complicated than relationships. If you find that your partner has fallen out of love with you, it can be one of the hardest times in your life. Find your resources, look inside yourself to ask tough questions and lean on your village of friends; all will help guide you out of these tricky waters. And finally, find that person whose heart won’t stop beating for you, even in toughest of times.

-- Erika Boissiere is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who specializes in couples therapy, based out of San Francisco, CA. She is also the founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy to couples and relationships.

The Entitlement of Being the Breadwinner

Erika Boissiere


I never imagined how becoming the primary breadwinner for my family would influence how I feel and what I feel entitled to.

Life has brought a series of unexpected events. Maintaining a career while having a family was always part of the plan. I didn’t expect that my husband’s career would shift so drastically that I would take over financial responsibility for the family. Images of my father’s old school role in the family started to creep in without my permission bringing entitlement and an expected division of duties. Looking at this has been an unexpected lesson in becoming a modern family. The following are just some of the entitlements I discovered and ways I’ve had to grow as individuals and we as partners to adjust.

Your Unknown Entitlement as the Breadwinner

As a woman I never expected to wake up one day to the realization that I had become entitled. It smacked me in the face one day when I came home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Hot anger rose in my body in a flash. Resentful thoughts about the amount of work I have on my plate flooded in.  I found myself making a case against my husband to inflate my anger and the distance between us. I don’t recall what it was that caused me to pause long enough to come out of this months later.

The Income that is Not Monetary

When I came to the surface I heard my husband talking about all the wonderful things he had been doing with our son after school and the struggles he had been working on with his business. I stopped fueling resentment and listened. It’s not like he was sitting around all day.  I expected him to take care of everything with no support from me because I had bought into the idea that it was the job of the person who doesn’t bring in as much money to do so. He didn’t buy into this idea because he was not socialized to do so. I could fight to maintain what I silently expected and keep growing dissatisfaction or I could collaborate to hash out new norms and distribution of labor, be generous and communicate/ collaborate and feel less anger, the joy of mutual support and connection. It’s not much of a choice really.

The Responsibility of Parenting and the Breadwinner

The aforementioned experience started sparks of realization in other areas of life as well. My expectations regarding child care were riddled with entitlement. I love spending time with my child. I would not give up my role as a parent for the world. Like most parents, I don’t always like the responsibility and struggle of it.

When I became the bread winner I subconsciously expected to also have less of the parenting responsibility and more of the fun. I believe I saw meal planning, enforcing structure and cleaning up after our little one as his job. Generations of families including my own have viewed this as an acceptable family dynamic. (When the man is the breadwinner.) We always imagined that we would do it together and that it would feel equal. Only that’s not possible and while we are both working only one of us is bringing in an income. Somehow this translated as Money= Less work and more play.  What I saw in my family growing up had become a voice in my head.  In order to combat this I had to make the unconscious patterns of that voice conscious and make sure that I am stepping into situations to help.

The Entitlement on Your Income

What a wake-up call to see my own entitlement in how I control the finances. Not only do I make the money but I also manage the finances. Mind you, neither of us are extravagant but I felt entitled to spend what I please and had expectations that he would limit himself. I grumble when he spends money on coffee yet it is okay for me to play for spiritual retreats and wine dates.

I only recently realized that there is actually no, yes no, line item in our budget for his spending money. He had to ask me for money or to buy things. This seems crazy to me. As a side note, the further I get into this article the more I appreciate my partner.  To feel like I was aligned with my values as a partner I had to start keeping his needs at the fore of my mind and invite him often to ask for what he needs.

Tips on how to Work with Entitlement

Before I close an amazon order I check with him to see if there is anything he needs. I know that he loves specialty coffees so I make sure there is room in the budget for it. It doesn’t take much to make sure he feels special and I feel like a good partner. To keep myself honest and inclusive I schedule a meeting once every other month to review our spending and to ask him for input. (Still a tinge of entitlement to work on. Ideally We would decide on budget and spending together vs asking for his input. It’s a work in progress. I earn for my family, which means that it’s never just mine.

Emotional Support for the Working Parent

The last shocking entitlement that I will talk about is the expectation that he would provide emotional support for me but that I was entitled to not do so as much for him. I was tired from work. Ugh, I feel like a terrible person just writing this. I also realize that this is a manifestation of my parents expectations of each other. As the breadwinner, I saw myself in a traditionally masculine roll and he in the feminine. I was living out a relationship dynamic that I never agreed with! Sure I need some time to decompress after working but it doesn’t mean that I get to tune my partner out. Providing empathy and emotional support is part of being a good partner, even when it is difficult.

Entitlement is tricky. It can sneak up in life before you know it. Facing it means facing parts of yourself that may be hard to look at. You may be shocked by what you find and the ways it does not match your values. In looking at my own entitlement I stopped acting out an unconscious script written by my parents and opened up to living in congruence with my own beliefs. In making changes I have to work harder but I feel more connected to my partner and child. I am proud to be this parent and wife.

-- Alexis Monnier, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

3 Ways of Saying, "I Love You" Differently

Erika Boissiere

We all have different views about the meaning and appropriate usage of the phrase “I love you” but generally in relationships we can use it as a catch-all for the way we may feel about our partners. Often, more specificity is needed in our relationships for our partners to truly feel loved. Here are a few phrases and sentiments that can broaden and deepen feelings of love within your relationship.

I Respect You

We all want to feel as though our partners accept and approve of the person that we are and of the way we move through the world. Of course, there will be things that irritate us or that we don’t agree with but generally solid partnerships are built on a respect for who the other person is. Did you see a way your partner navigated a social situation with a particular grace or did you see him or her put a great deal of focus and hard work into a certain project? Tell them. Let your partner know the qualities that you value about them as often as you can. This can also help create a softer landing when bringing things up that are bothering you.

I Appreciate You or Thank You

When we are deep into the groove of our day to day lives and focused on our jobs, children, friends, families, we can often forget to stop and notice for a moment the little things our partners do for us. These things may not necessarily be exactly what we need or what we would do for them but taking time to notice these things and express your appreciation not only is essential for connection and harmony within a partnership but also is likely to increase these behaviors and perhaps prompt additional ones.

I Want to Try to Understand

Often we are upset by something that our partners may not be able to understand. When on the receiving end of that upset in a relationship, we can easily become defensive in these moments and subtly or not so subtly begin to make our “counter argument.” Instead of doing this immediately as a first reaction, try starting from a place of curiosity about what might be happening for your partner and approaching with a desire to understand- “I love you so I want to try to understand what might be making you upset so we can figure out what to do.” This approach is likely to lead to more beneficial and productive outcomes in conflicts.

- Liz Hayman, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA

How to Stop "Fixing" Your Partner

Erika Boissiere

It is painful to see a partner in distress. Most of us want that pain to stop because we love them. Out of the desire to shift our partner’s state we come up with solutions for their problems, AKA "fixing."

This tool, "fixing" is heavily relied on because it gives us a sense of control and that we are helping our partner. The results? Well, they are mixed. Sometimes it feels supportive and sometimes it doesn’t. You can know it isn’t working when your partner doesn’t seem relaxed and soothed receiving it. In these instances another tool is needed. Your partner needs to know that someone really gets their struggle and doesn’t judge them. They need connection. So often when working with couples that rely on advice I notice they do not have an alternative way of responding. Here is the most effective tool to help your partner feel heard.  

#1 Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person's thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable

The key? Let go of whether or not you would have the same response. When you validate, you are concentrated on understanding the other person’s experience and individual perception and letting them know you get it by reflecting it back to them.The glory of validation is that you don’t have to agree or disagree. In fact it requires this kind of neutrality. It is 100% about your partner and how they feel and think.

 “You are saying that when I walked away from the table you felt like I didn’t value you or see you as an equal partner?” (This may sound crazy to you because you love and value her and show her in a million different ways.) You may feel the urge to apologize and tell her how much you love her.

But wait! Ideally you will first reflect what you have heard and follow with non-defensive curiosity. “I hear that you felt like I didn’t value you.” (Pause for their response…..) Follow with; “What was it like when that happened?” It may be helpful to reflect a few times before asking permission to share what your true intention was.   

How to Be a Rock star Validator

  1. Don't be a Parrot. Use some of the same key words they hear and avoid parroting back exact sentences. If they say their stomach crunched, its “your stomach crunched” not “you felt a pit in your stomach.”   
  2. Get into Their Experience. Another rock star move is to empathize with the emotional experience. Gosh that must have been difficult, exciting, frustrating, sad, distressing; or i"t sounds like you felt (fill in the blank).
  3. Watch your partner to see if you are getting it right. Does your partner respond to what you are saying with frustration, resistance or they keep repeating the same point? Signs you are getting it: You partner relaxes, continues the story without being stuck on one point (exceptions apply) comes up with own solutions, experiences catharsis (emotional release and recovery).

Blockers to effective validation

  1. Tone. If you sound bored or fed up with the conversation when you reflect what your partner says this will fail. If you feel these emotions: take a deep breath, feel your feet on the ground and conjure the part of yourself that is curious and compassionate. (If you don’t naturally have this part channel someone you know with these qualities.)
  2. "Shoulding." Don’t “should” all over your good efforts. If this rolls off your tongue check in to see if you are hoping that she will do something that YOU want her to do. Not to worry, pause and get back on track by reflecting the last thing she said.
  3. Dismissing. You may think what the other person is saying is some kind of nonsense. If this is the case you will have to muster everything you have to take it seriously. It is serious to them and treating it otherwise will only result in rupture in your connection.
  4. Switching to a normal back and forth conversation too soon. Validation requires concentrated attention on one person for an extended period of time. Ideally they will be the center of focus until they feel heard. The better you get at validating, the faster this will happen.
  5. Defending. It is super difficult to resist defending yourself when your partner perceives you have done something to hurt them. (We know it wasn’t intentional. You were just trying to get your own needs met.) It is in your best interest to get to know your own defense system so you don’t have to blindly obey it. When that old fear that you will never be good enough pops up you can tell it to take a hike because you are busy learning what you can do better.  
  6. Rationalizing or trying to make sense of what the person is saying. Yes, you experience things in a much different way. “I don’t get it” is a cop out. Your new go to: “I don’t experience things like this, help me understand.”
  7. Extrapolating.  If you can describe what your partner is experiencing “better” than they can you have strayed from the goal of helping them feel understood. Have patience for their process. Stay close with their experience.

Voi la!

Watch the effect you have on your partner! When you get it right your partner will relax or move forward in the story. Yes and… They will likely come up with their own solutions. They may even look at you with dreamy eyes because you really get it. Who knows some attraction may start to brew.

Since you are looking at them to track the impact your words are having you can also see cues that will let you know when you are off track. So you didn’t “get it” don’t be deterred try to stay closer to her narrative, to reflect more or ask questions to get on the same page.

-- Alexis Monnier, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

How to be a good online dater

Erika Boissiere

At our very core, all of us desire connection. Whether it's a night on the town with a new romantic friend, or looking for a long-term committed relationship, online dating has come onto the romantic scene with a fury. Swipe left, swipe right. It couldn't be easier, right? However, that's not what people are saying. If anything, it's the opposite. It's taxing, time consuming and often times, doesn't yield what we want. Here are four tips that can help make the process a little easier and perhaps create a more desired outcome.

Tip #1: Get clear about what you’re looking for

Are you wanting to meet a long term partner? Looking for something more casual? Great. The key is to know for yourself what it is that you’re wanting to get out of the process of dating at any given time and to be able to state that directly in dating contexts.

Tip #2: Use your energy wisely

Endless back and forth online conversation or texts can only tell you so much about a person. Exchange a few messages and then figure out a way to connect in person if it feels like it could be a good fit. Also, falling too quickly into messaging and texting that is more appropriate for a relationship (i.e How was your day?) can create the sense of a false intimacy that doesn’t yet exist, which can create confusion about how you might feel about someone. 

Tip #3: Be open

Dating is stressful and often makes people nervous and may cause them to act differently then they might otherwise. Know that it’s possible that someone you are on a date with will likely have many more facets of their personality and more depth than might be readily apparent on a first date.

Tip #4: Don’t ghost

It’s perfectly okay to not connect with and like someone in a dating situation. It’s important to know for yourself when this is the case and to communicate this so there is no ambiguity. In your own words, create something that you can say when this happens. It could be something along the lines of “I just don’t feel a romantic connection” or “I just don’t think we are a good fit.”

- Liz Hayman, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA

3 Tips on How to Rebuild After An Affair

Erika Boissiere

Deception in a relationship is one of the worst things you can do to your partner. The breach of trust is so great, that it accounts for 50% of the caseload for couples therapists. People struggle because they don't know how to repair their relationship, or, some wonder if they are even capable of coming back after an affair. Here are a few steps that may help you.

Insight #1: You've experienced a traumatic event. Treat it as such, but with guidelines.

It is normal to want to process the affair. To talk about it at length, over an over. However, establish guidelines on when you can speak about it, and when you can't. Examples include: Not before heading into work, when either of you have consumed alcohol, or if it erupts into a fight that is tail-spinning.

Insight #2: Here are some questions that will need to be uncovered at some point.

1. Why are you back? Why do you want to save the relationship?

2. Why did you choose her/ him? What do they have that I don't?

3. How did we get here? What created this distance?

Insight #3. Trust is built in micro-moments.

Couples often ask us, "how do we rebuild trust?" While we would love to have a marathon tape to show you trust has been rebuilt, that's not how trust works. Trust is bult in what we call, "micro moments." Tiny relational moments that signal to your partner that you have their back. That you won't do it again. That you'll talk about it as much as needed, even if it's 150th time. A micro moment looks like this.

"Honey, I have this awful feeling. You didn't text me back last night and my mind began to wander." "I'm so sorry that happened to you. Let's talk about exactly what happened last night, what lead to you feeling that way, and what we can do differently." That is a micro moment.

Conversely, what we see happen is this, "Ugh, again? Really? You really think I would cheat on you again? When will you get over this?" That is a trust destroyer.

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

How to Choose the Wrong Couples Therapist

Erika Boissiere

Some of us know that moment. The moment you and your partner get in some knock-down, drag-out fight, and finally the words are uttered, “I think we need couples counseling.” One of you spearheads the efforts, researching on yelp, google, or maybe talking to a trusted friend. But when it comes down to it…how do you decide who will help repair your relationship? And to add (and assume), help you with your most important relationship?

The Relationship Institute of San Francisco receives calls from all sorts of potential clients. We find that many are in a rush to get into counseling. Questions such as, “Can you take us today?” Their earnestness is usually due to a major relationship rupture. A fight that went terribly array, or an event that feels too overwhelming to handle, even for just one more day. Our clients typically want counseling, and they want it now.

However, what often gets missed by our clients in their eagerness to begin, is choosing the right therapist. And most importantly, choosing a right therapist that fits them. As we counsel our potential clients into choosing the right therapist, we say the following things.

Choose a Specialist.

Whether it is with TRISF or another provider, choose a specialist. To give an example, if you had a heart condition, would you go see a foot doctor? No, you would go to a cardiologist. The same goes for therapy. Choose a therapist that specializes in couples therapy.

There are many therapists that see many types of clients – adolescents, children, adults and couples. You want a therapist that has a specializes specifically in couples counseling or relationship counseling. Why? It is a very targeted skill set. Couples and relationship therapists have extensive training in garnering tools, resources, and know how to navigate the complexities of couples and relationship counseling.

Slow Down.

Call a few therapists. Don’t book with the first one because their schedule fits yours, or they called you back first. Have your partner speak to the therapist. Ask a few friends if they have referrals. What did they find important when they were in counseling? Do some internet research. Read your (potential) therapist’s blog or website. These are all ways for you to make a more informed decision.

Do you like the way your therapist sounds?

When speaking to your potential therapist, are they informative? Do you like the way they explain things? Do you feel like they are knowledgeable?

Do you agree with their approach?

Have your therapist speak to you about their approach. How do they help couples change? What models to they use? What masters do they follow and why? Do you agree with it?

Be flexible with your schedule.

When reviewing your schedule, be as flexible as you can. Many clients have demanding jobs, financial obligations or work commitments. However, remember, you won’t be in therapy forever.

Many therapists don’t work evenings, or weekends, as it is difficult on their families or other obligations. Prior to reviewing you schedule, you may want to speak with your work about missing an hour to an hour and a half per week. This can free up your schedule quite a bit.


Therapy is no doubt expensive. Many of our clients are misinformed about therapy fees and surprised by the cost. Therapy, just like any other profession (law, accounting, personal training, etc) is costly. However, there are clinics that offer reduced fees if you can’t afford your clinicians rate. We support you making a prudent decision regarding your personal financial situation.

While there is no silver bullet to choosing the right therapist, we do hope that your journey into therapy is met with your expectations. It is a complicated process, and a lot can be at stake. However, remember that you hold the keys. You can always start, stop, or change therapists whenever you want. If your therapist is experienced, they will support you and help you make the right decision for you and your relationship.

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

3 Signs Therapy Isn't Working

Erika Boissiere

With such a vague and opaque process as therapy, how do you know it’s working? As a couples therapist, it is usually easy to spot. Clients will report that their relationship is getting healthier. They are happier. Their relationship has improved. Conversely, sometimes the outcome of therapy is not always what you had planned, but difficult decisions get made. While it may not be the progress you hoped, you are making movement. 

However, how can you spot if therapy isn't working?


Sign #1. Clear, precise goals.

It is imperative that you and your therapist have well thought out goals for therapy. This happens usually at the onset of therapy. Questions like, “If you were to wake up tomorrow and all of your problems were to be gone, how would you know? What would be different? How would you feel? What would you notice?” Without a clear goal list, it is easy to get lost in the maze of therapy and also not realize the progress you’ve made.

Sign #2. Monitoring your goals.

You and your therapist should continue to check in on your goals. Questions such as, “are we reaching our goals and if not, what is standing in the way?” By reviewing your goals, you are able to see if you’re making progress. Also, your therapist will notice things you may have missed, which can be tremendously helpful in realizing if therapy is helpful or not.

Not reaching your goals?

Talking to your therapist about the fact that you’re not reaching your goals is important. While there are a number or reasons why clients don’t reach their goals, the biggest one to review is what is called “therapeutic fit.” Sometimes the therapist you choose, whether it’s a personality style or their approach, simply doesn’t match up with your style. A well-seasoned therapist will completely understand, and if anything, help you with appropriate referrals or resources.

Did you reach your goals?

If you are reporting happiness or satisfaction with the outcome of therapy, for many, ending therapy is the next move. What many clients don’t realize is that they can always return to therapy, at any time. Whether it is with their previous therapist or a new one, the door is always open.

Sign #3. In general, do you find therapy helpful?

While every session might not be earth moving, therapy in general, should be helpful to you. If you find that you are learning about yourself, making different decisions than you would have in the past, gaining new skills and resources, or feeling a marked improvement in your life, then therapy sounds beneficial. However, just like anything, it is an investment, both from a monetary stance as well as an emotional one. Discovering when you need to start therapy or end therapy is always up to you.

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Having a Baby

Erika Boissiere

Having a baby is exciting and very much at the same time, terrifying. All sorts of new questions brew in your mind. How will my body change? What sort of mother or a father will I be? What will the baby be like?

Culturally, we’ve done an excellent job at preparing for the baby in terms of their basic needs. Nursery? Check. Diapers? Check. Hospital Bag? Check. For many, we feel prepared when the nursery is done, the registry is complete and the crib is built.

Interestingly, many couples enter this transition with very little knowledge that a baby will cause (for some) tremendous stress on their relationship. Your relationship will go through an entire new transition, together.

As a couples therapist, I work with couples to meet this transition with tools, resources, and also, help them prepare in advance for what the transition will bring. Below are some questions you can your partner can discuss:

  1. If my relationship changes, and I am unhappy, how can I communicate this to my partner?
  2. How do my partner and I handle division of labor? How do I communicate when I’m feeling overloaded?
  3. If I’m upset with my partner, and sleep deprived, what is the best way to communicate this?
  4. If we were to stop having sex for several months, how will my partner handle it?
  5. How do I communicate resentments?
  6. How do I envision my life changing when I have a baby?
  7. What freedoms will I give up that I have now? What will I miss the most?
  8. If my support network were change, who can I relay on?
  9. If I (or my spouse) encounter post-partum depression, how will I know?
  10. Do I have trouble asking for help?
  11. How do I handle stress?
  12. How do I take care of myself when I’m feeling burned out?
  13. If I’m really tired, or can’t do something for whatever reason, do I have trouble saying “no?”
  14. Do I like to control things? Or am I a perfectionist? If things are out of control, how do I handle it?
  15. How did my parents parent me?
  16. What are a few things I hated as a kid, and a few things I loved?
  17. What is my parenting style? What is my partners?
  18. What traditions do I want to carry over from my childhood?
  19. When I’m at my worst, who am I? How do I come back from it?
  20. When I think of the kind of mother or father I want to be, what comes to mind? Why is that important to you? If my partner is doing something that is in direct conflict with that idea, how can we talk about it?

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

How Adult ADHD Impacts Your Relationship

Erika Boissiere

One of the biggest myths about relationships is that they should be easy. Arguments “shouldn’t happen” and when they do, people often wonder if their relationship is doomed. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. All of us have moments where we struggle within our relationships, and it is normal to hit a rough patch from time to time.

However, those that have Adult ADHD pose a different set of challenges in “couple-hood.” These hurdles can cause considerable strain on a relationship if it goes untreated. By understanding the impact of Adult ADHD, both the partners can benefit and have a happier relationship.

First, it’s important to understand the basics

  • ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Partners can display symptoms of attention difficulties as well as hyper behaviors.
  • This is a neurological (brain) disorder that is chronic, which this means that people have it for life.

While all of us have varying moods and shifts in our concentration, someone with ADHD experiences these core symptoms almost on a daily basis.

ADHD Symptoms

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Misdirected motivation
  • Organizational difficulties
  • Issues with self-discipline
  • Difficulty with time management
  • Angry or inappropriate outbursts
  • Negative self-image or lack of self-confidence
  • Carries shame from past “failures”

How it Impacts Your Relationship

If ADHD goes untreated, it can take a toll on your relationship or marriage. For those that are in a relationship with someone with ADHD, here are the hallmark features.

For starters, many people that struggle with ADHD have trouble concentrating. This takes the form of having trouble completing tasks, staying motivated or concentrating on the “wrong” thing. This is central and considered a core symptom of Adult ADHD.

Relationally, it can show up as “forgetting about you” or “ignoring you.” While the person with ADHD typically doesn’t intend for this outcome, it has the propensity to create distance and lack of intimacy within the relationship.

Another key feature to Adult ADHD is lack of organization and issues with time management. Relationally, this can manifest by having the spouse or partner without ADHD carrying a significant portion of the domestic responsibilities. Overtime, these unsung responsibilities can cause burn out and frustration, as they can largely go unnoticed by the partner that has ADHD.

Here are common examples that couples report frustration with:

  • Financial responsibility such as paying bills, insurance, rent/ mortgage, cell phone bill, car
  • Managing the home such as groceries, laundry, replying to important mail
  • Parenting responsibilities such as paying the nanny, ordering diapers, applying to schools, filling out forms, purchasing birthday or holiday gifts
  • Remembering important obligations such as commitments or engagements
  • Managing doctor appointments for the family
  • Booking vacations & time away
  • Remembering important life events such as birthdays or anniversaries
  • “Grunt work” such as emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, cleaning out the refrigerator, replacing and refilling household necessities
  • Resolving family problems

The person without ADHD can feel alone in these responsibilities, and for some, this unequal division of responsibly can make the partner with ADHD feel more like a child, than a partner, causing more distance in the relationship.

Steps You Can Take Today

Step 1: Practice empathy: If your spouse has ADHD, it’s important to practice empathy. Remember, this is a neurological disorder and the symptoms you experience from your partner aren’t intentional.

Step 2: When making a request: Touch your partner or make eye contact when you making a request. People with ADHD receive information more readily and thoroughly when several senses are engaged. Also, give a time limit. Say, “I will feel better if you take out the trash by 3 o'clock.”

Step 3: Have clearly established responsibilities. People with ADHD work well with strong boundaries and consistency. For example, “every Sunday, the garbage gets taken out.”

Step 4: Make an area for reminders. Set up a designated area such as a cork-board that is in eye site everyday – such as a doorway or bathroom mirror. Use bright colored post its with large print.

Step 5: Consider Couples Therapy: If a couple coping with ADHD wants to revive their marriage, they must recognize that ADHD is the problem, not the person with the condition. Blaming one another for the side effects of ADHD will only widen the gap between them.

Step 6: If you believe you have ADHD: At a minimum, you must get treatment through medication and counseling.

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

Your Marriage in your Thirties Matters

Erika Boissiere

You are in your thirties.

By now, chances are, you are finally in a more developed and fulfilling career than in your twenties, school for the most part is over, and for some of you, you have found a significant other. Your home or apartment has taken on an “adult” look, and as you breathe in your newly found maturity, your thoughts turn to embarking into parenthood.

While we personally greet this milestone with excitement, research has a much more dismal picture to paint. Babies bring new stressors to the relationship, some so intense that they can be the doorway to divorce. While some marriages glide through this relational turbulence with just a few dings and bruises, others will experience the rockiest point in their marriage yet.

The million-dollar question is can your marriage survive parenthood?

The 21st century relationship is the most complicated history has ever seen. The process of selecting a mate to marry of yesteryear is far simpler than that of today.

The primary purpose of matrimony of the past was to procreate – men and women would move from relationship to relationship (on average, every 3 years) producing as many offspring as possible. Then, arranged marriages soon came into vogue in which mates with the highest access to resources were in demand. Finally, marriage moved away from this long held orthodox – marriage companions were mostly selected on the basis of their economic and societal status and there by chose the partner that would give our children the best life possible. In all of these marital models, the men worked (or hunted), and the women stayed home and raised the children. This pattern still endures today for many and is considered “traditional.”

The 21st Century Marriage

For many, the American marriage of the 21st century looks remarkably different. We now marry for love and passion. Both partners often work, full-time. We seek partners to fulfill an extensional completion to our life’s journey. We are looking for a companion, a lover, an intellectual partner and a collaborator; a travel partner, and a mother or father; an ally to support us at our worst, and someone to push our boundaries so we can live life to the fullest. We want passionate sex, and a best friend. We desire and seek a mate that checks every box on the “partnership list.”

To complicate matters, today’s modern relationships demand more from our marital partnerships than ever. During the child rearing years, your relationship will require you to work as a team – a unit that gives and takes. A unit that is not afraid to take on traditionally female-only responsibilities. In order for the 21st century relationship to survive, it must tackle the archaic marital model that has been imprinted onto our DNA. The woman can no longer be solely in charge of the domestic responsibilities and child rearing. It is now shared, now, more than ever.

Couples often get into trouble when a spouse is too late to accept this new marital and parenthood contract. They are trapped in the old architecture, while their spouse is firmly planted in 2016. While these centuries collide, minor relational infractions occur. The traditional female responsibilities, if not shared, will go undetected for a period of time. However, your wife will tire. And over the course of 10+ years, you will end up with a burned out wife, full of resentment, ready to hand you divorce papers. The modern woman enjoys an unprecedented economic freedom that removes the economic binds of marriage to survive, and provides her with options beyond the burdens of a traditional arrangement.

But, how does the modern couple negotiate this new marriage contract? Thank goodness the solution isn’t complicated and divorce is not inevitable. And it goes it without saying, this is not a one-size fits all solution.

Tool #1 – Division of Labor

To mediate potential resentments over the division of household labor, develop a written list of your domestic and child rearing responsibilities. Assign a time value to each task from 1 (takes significant time) to 3 (takes just a few moments.) This simple tool, while not sexy nor uniquely creative, does three very important things: 1) opens the lines of communication with your partner around shared goals 2) fosters team work through shared goals, and 3) ends “mindreading” by creating transparency into what it takes to run your household.

A well-known cognitive behavioral therapy behavior model is called “mind reading.” This model posits that it is natural for social beings in relationships to attempt to read other people’s mind by assuming that we know what the other person is thinking or feeling (and not fact checking it). In addition, we often expect others to mind read us. We ask our spouses to know what we are thinking, needing and wanting, without ever muttering a word. By engaging in this important discussion, we allow our spouse into our mind, clarifying our needs.

Tool #2 – Let go of 50/50

While this tool may seem to oppose the Division of Labor tool above, read on.

Let go of the idea of a perfect 50/50 split of the division of labor. Some days it will be 40/60 and other days it will be 90/10. You will have days that you are so exhausted you can’t see straight, and you will ask your spouse to pick up more responsibility that day. There will be days your spouse will ask the same of you. The key is flexibility, give and take. But don’t let it slide to 80/20 for too long. The average needs to be near the 50/50 mark.

This idea of a relationship “scoreboard” is an important concept in cognitive behavioral therapy as we size up pour “position” in a relationship.  As social beings, we tend to tally things up our “social score” in our mind, and when we perceive the scales tipped against us, we can become angry or resentful as we feel taken advantaged of or less than another. However, our internal scoreboard is often wrong, simply a figment of our imaginations with very little basis in fact. To remedy this distortion, the healthiest thing you can do is to share your experience with your spouse. For each marital partner to feel good about the division of labor, you may need to re-design your household list or re-assign tasks. Or maybe, you’re just burned out and need a day or two away. The most important element of this strategy to ensure a positive partnership, is this: talk. Don’t live inside your head where no one can hear you. And finally, be open to the idea that your spouse may be doing more than you think.

Don’t let your thirties determine your divorce in your forties. Be a team. Reduce resentments. And above all, wake up to the new marital arrangement of the 21st century.

-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.



The Best Communication Tool Ever

Erika Boissiere

 /* Style Definitions */
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";


The primary complaint of couples seeking therapy is a breakdown in communication. Couples often describe a repetitive pattern of arguing. “She always yells.” “He always leaves.”

Learn how to be a better communicator.

This is the first in a series about communication. This article will speak about what communication is, how to be a great communicator, what interferes with it, and how to handle these impediments skillfully.

What is Communication?

In its simplest form, communication is conveying ideas, thoughts and feelings through words as well as body language and behaviors. For example, a person uses their senses to pick up information and respond. Most people consider communication complete when their thoughts and feelings are received and understood.

Repetitive arguments are born from repetitive misunderstanding.

Being misunderstood by your partner is distressing, frustrating, and causes emotional distance. It can be detrimental to connection. What most people do when they feel misunderstood is to try to get their point across by being more emphatic, or they might go the opposite route, and disengage. Some try the “ultra-rational” approach, while others use sarcasm. The reality is that these tactics rarely produce the results you are longing for, which we assume, is to be understood by your partner. Put simply, you want to be heard.

Where Most Communication Breaks Down

Breakdown occurs when both the speaker and listening partner assume understanding of certain terms, without clarifying. To give an example, the term “support,” means one thing to you, and possibly, something completely different to someone else.  Interestingly, when asked to elaborate, often times people have trouble explaining their thoughts. They assume that the definition is universal, when it’s quite the contrary. What makes thing even harder, is that the listener assumes knowledge of the term, so never asks for clarification.

Breakdown also occurs when the listener feels like they are being accused or are seen as failing. When these emotions bubble up, people often feel a need to protect (seen as defensiveness), leaving your partner woefully unheard.

Breakdown #1: "Mind reading"

Put simply, we expect others to know what we are thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy calls this cognitive distortion, “mind reading.” What does mind reading look like?

The speaker is thinking: “I asked for more support. That means my spouse will pick up more responsibility around the house, ask me questions about my day and be more attentive to the children.”

The listener is thinking: “More support, okay, got it. I’ll pick up extra hours at my job to so we’ll have more resources for support.”

Breakdown #2: Defensiveness

Scenario #1: Your partner talks about something that they need support around. Loving partners intend to “be there” for their partners. They try to make their partner feel better by offering advice, offering an alternative way to look at things. These methods are often met with frustration and possible escalation.

Scenario #2: With the intention of improving experiences in the relationship, a partner present a problem or something that needs improvement.

Both result in defense against a real or perceived accusation or inadequacy.

How to change the cycle

Step 1 - Awareness: Understand your pattern of communication. This awareness gives you the power and freedom to do something different.

Step 2 – Remember Empathy and Clarity: Break the pattern through communication from a place of knowing your message, and caring for your partner. Be clear with what you want, and how to define it.

Step 3 – Use Skills: Use listening skills that build understanding and intimacy. In the above example, it would look like this, “What does support look like to you.” This will stop you from mind reading. Ask the simple question, and we are fairly certain your partner will elaborate generously. If they don’t? It’s a good thing you asked if they don’t even know what they want! If you find yourself feeling defensive generously turn toward your partner, and try to understand what they are hoping for and why it is important to them.

-- Alexis Monnier, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.


Sorry I'm Late!

Erika Boissiere

Do you find yourself being one of those people who is chronically late to things? Lateness is one of those experiences that we have, alongside things like procrastination or boredom, where we can tend to take it at face value. We can frame it as, “Oh this is just the way it is,” or “This is the just the way I am.” It can also function as a way to take us right into harsh self criticism- “I’m bad/wrong/lazy/the worst. End of story.” In these situations, however, I think there are often much deeper things operating. When we take it at face value or find a way to be hard on ourselves about it, we miss the opportunity for a more in depth exploration of what might actually be happening. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you find yourself often being late:

What am I late to? Do I tend to be late to everything or am I just late to certain things or with certain people?

Our lateness to particular events or with particular people can sometimes contain information about how we may be feeling about that event or person. Sometimes we may be struggling in a relationship (feeling hurt, angry, disappointed etc) and that can feel hard to name, which can cause us to show up late. Or we may feel worried about a task at work that could cause us to press the snooze button a few too many times making us tardy. Finding that you are late to everything would be good information as well, although my suspicion would be that upon closer examination, you would find that there are certain areas where lateness is more of an issue than others. Does a part of me want some type of response around my lateness?

I think that sometimes when we’re late, a part of us wants to be “called out” on it. The typically response from most people is, “Oh no problem.” But I think we may be unconsciously looking for something from other people when we are late. It is possible that often, as children, our more subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) struggles went unnoticed by our caregivers. So in our lateness as adults, we may be trying to get the people close to us to say, “What’s going on” or “Are you okay?” Unfortunately, this is not the response we tend to get, which can reinforce our lateness.

How might my lateness actually be serving me?

There are many behaviors we might have that on the surface we don’t like or don’t want to be doing but there is actually something about doing that behavior that may serve an important purpose. There are many reasons that lateness might actually get you something you want or need. What does it mean for you to show up to a particular situation frazzled and potentially apologetic? Does you worry about the expectations you might feel if you showed up in a more grounded place? Is there a way you are attempting to protect yourself from something by beginning an interaction from a one down position? Does a state of constant rush, struggle, drama, and unease feel normal, familiar, and comfortable to you? And if so, why?

All of these are possible things to explore in yourself around what the function of your lateness might be.

-- Liz Hayman, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA


What "I'm here for you" Really Means

Erika Boissiere

In my work with clients-both individuals and couples, I feel that it's important to spend some time exploring childhood experiences that may have an impact on how we navigate the world and our relationships. Much of how we navigate things can be a result of how our parents and caregivers responded or didn't respond to us growing up. When we begin this exploration, many clients say to me "But my parents were always there, they came to everything. They were always at my games, shows etc." It definitely is a great thing to have the physical presence of our loved ones regularly and at important events in our lives. But sometimes, a key component is missing, and that is having their emotional presence.

We all know the experience of being with another person who just doesn't really feel "there." There can be many reasons for this and this can exist in varying degrees in different moments. But often what we all need and what we especially need as children is someone who is present with us both physically and emotionally. What I mean by emotional presence is someone who is engaged in any given situation or interaction and can connect in a meaningful way. This could look something like: A parent attending a child's sporting event and afterwards saying something like "I noticed you got frustrated/nervous/excited when xyz event happened. Is that right? How did that feel?” This is very different from “Oh good game!” or “Too bad your team lost!”

Often it is not about the quantity of time that we show up for the important people in our lives (even though this is important) but about the quality of that time. Do we show up with our hearts and the desire to connect and understand? Or are we somewhere else entirely even when our physical self is right there? The ability to try to really see the people that we care about, become more deeply curious, and name our own complex emotional experience is an important component that contributes to lasting and fulfilling connection.

-- Liz Hayman, MFT, is a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.

The Ups and Downs of Relationships

Erika Boissiere

Do you feel like your relationship is Failing?

Every relationship has its ups and downs. It is inevitable, really. We grow as human beings, life circumstances change, and new stressors emerge. All of these things are out of our control, and, as significant as they are, we may pay little attention to the changes as they become an intimate part of our every day life.

People tend to believe that we have control over  our relationships. Thus, nothing quite as disquieting as when your marriage or relationship is doing poorly and you don't know why or how to fix it. You feel it when you wake up; you notice it during dinner. Sexual intimacy with your partner starts to dwindle, and your patience begins to snap. Suddenly you find that your relationship is in an uncomfortable, dark place, and you’re not certain when or how this happened. If you are starting to feel or notice these signs, here are five things you can do to get your marriage back on track.

Schedule a date night.

No matter how busy you are, schedule a night out with your partner. Date nights are essential to relational intimacy as they ensure you and your partner have dedicated one-on-one time without the busyness of life getting in the way. The simple act of getting ready to go out is also important. Make it easy – nothing over the moon or strenuous. Perhaps go play miniature golf, or dinner and a movie. The goal? Have fun - together.

Turn down the volume in your life.

Often, stress in your relationship is the result of the stress you or your partner is feeling individually. The stress of being over committed, running from event to event, or having a demanding work schedule can all contribute to relationship dissatisfaction. Reduce your social and work calendar as best you can and be more present in your relationship. Saying “no” can be hard, but by doing so you will create more space for your relationship.

Take care of yourself.

We mean this in the simplest of ways. If you haven’t worked out in ages, get out there. Even a brisk walk for 15 minutes a day will help. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods and take care of yourself ascetically.  Do things for yourself that make you feel attractive and energized.  Feeling unattractive can erode your self-worth and cause a negative outlook.

Really assess your unhappiness.

You and your partner are having a bad few months, and suddenly you think your relationship is on its way out.  It may or may not be. Make a list of what is contributing to your unhappiness. Some things on the list may have nothing to do with your partner, but instead are all about you. You may also notice that your list is really long, or really short. This simple exercise can provide a new perspective on what is really happening and how dire the situation may be.

Consider getting outside help.

If after trying each of these steps you are still not noticing any changes, or you have just reached your wit’s end, consider getting help from another resource. Talking to a trusted friend, reading a self-help book (visit our library), or considering couples therapy are all good options to explore as they can help guide you to a better understanding of what is happening in your relationship, and what you can do to change it for the better.

When Couples Counseling Won't Work

Erika Boissiere

Does Marriage Counseling Work? Sometimes it doesn't

All couples experience ups and downs in their relationships. It is not only common, but expected that as people grow, age and change, so will their relationships. When experiencing difficulty, some couples turn to a trusted personal resource for help, and others may try to figure things out on their own. However, some couples look to counseling in the hopes that a relationship expert can provide important insights to guide them in a better direction.

Couples counseling can be an effective way to improve personal relationships. A professional therapist can help couples understand their relational patterns, provide practical tools to improve their relationships as well as a safe place to process relationship ruptures. Change does happen during therapy, and for many, it can be an invaluable experience.

However, there can be times when counseling may not be the answer. Readiness for change is a critical ingredient for success. So how do you know if when couples counseling may not be enough?

It is not the right time

It just might not be right time for couples counseling. For change to be lasting, both people in the relationship must commit to changing their behaviors. If you are dragging your partner into the process, or giving ultimatums, it is unlikely that your partner will be open to the influence and advice of a marriage counselor. In this situation, save your money and focus instead on convincing your partner that getting outside help is a reasonable and beneficial step.

You have reached the end of the road

As hard as it is to consider, your marriage or relationship may have run its course and has arrived at its end. Some couples enter into counseling after years of unhappiness and want immediate fixes, but hurt feelings and pain that have compounded over the course of years are complex and take time to unravel and for new behaviors to take hold. This is not to say that couples counseling can’t make a positive impact sooner than later – it can, but lasting change will take time and commitment. And, most importantly, the relationship has to be something both parties want to save.

You are having an affair, and don’t want to end it

If one partner is having an affair and is not willing to end the relationship, couples counseling can do little to restore the primary relationship. However, counseling can help support the injured party and explore what may have contributed to the affair. For couples counseling to be the most successful, both parties need to be fully in the game and committed to personal change.

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.

5 Tips to Help Your Marriage Today

Erika Boissiere

Is your Marriage Falling Apart?

No matter if you have been married for one year, 10 years, or a lifetime - your marriage could be in a precarious state in the blink of an eye.

Often, people in this state are confused, unsure what to do next, and couples counseling can help. However, if you need change right away, below are some easy tips for you try immediately. 


Think about what you are going to say and self-edit before you speak. Avoid making statements such as, “you always” or “you never.” Choose your words carefully. Refrain from constant criticism of your partner. You do not need to list every imperfection when you notice them.


This tip applies to both men or women.  Equality, or balanced influence, in marriage is a key ingredient to happiness. Forgo rigidity and “know-it-all” behavior for flexibility and acceptance. You will be glad you did.


Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? But it is true. The best way to resolve an unresolvable fight is to take a break. Some people need just 10 minutes whereas others may need hours. The key? Tell your partner how long you need and adhere to that time frame. Don’t play games.


They may be hard to see clearly just now, but there are some positives aspects to your relationship. Focus on those. Make a mental note of when things are going right. It is far easier to notice the negatives, so yes, this is something you will have to work on daily.


Often people push off this step,but a professionally trained clinician really can help you and your partner get back on track. Couple’s therapists provide feedback, tips, and can teach you how to be a better partner.

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.