Marriage counseling is the main thrust of
what I work with in my private practice. Specifically, I see a lot
of couples recovering from the effects of pornography or sexual
addiction (click here to learn more about this) . That is why I have advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)- the most
successful and empirically validated approach to working with marriages. Couples that go through EFT have a 75% success rate, meaning that they recover from
stress and report being happy together regardless of how volatile they are at the beginning of
effects remain or continue to improve over the next several years after therapy. The next best approach is only effective for 35% of couples, and only half of them
maintain the effects of therapy after 1-2 years.
EFT is especially effective in working
with emotionally inexpressive men. Men and women experience emotions differently, and manage their emotions
differently. This often
leaves a couple stuck in one of three patterns:
1. Pursue-Withdraw: Usually the wife is the pursuer- pursuing her husband to try to get him to
connect with her. She will try to get him to talk about the relationship by bringing up problems in
the relationship. Typically the husband is the withdrawer- pulling back to avoid conflict that is
quite stressful. As
the pursuer pushes for connection, the withdrawer pulls away to decrease the tension. The pursuer feels hurt and rejected
and escalates the pursuit, whereupon the withdrawer pulls back even more to avoid the increased
the withdrawer will lash out in anger to make the other person back off. It is a miserable and well-rehearsed
dance that leaves both spouses frustrated, hurt, and lonely.
2. Pursue-Pursue: Think of two lawyers having it out in court. Both spouses express emotion with
intensity and push to feel heard. Things tend to escalate rapidly and can get personal. Just like pursue-withdraw, both
spouses feel justified in their positions and believe the other person is being
both spouses feel frustrated, hurt, and alone.
3. Withdraw-Withdraw: The silent killer. It is deceptive to think that since there is no conflict that every thing is
fine. Couples with
this style tend to have a calm home, but may feel very disconnected since they avoid saying anything that
could rock the boat. After years of
this, they often feel like room mates instead of soul mates.
EFT is highly effective in helping couples
get unstuck, and create a meaningful relationship that both spouses like, love, and enjoy.
Often there are specific events along the
way that have been very painful and stand out like a sore thumb (pornography, affairs, abandoned in time of
need, etc) when trying to be close with your spouse. EFT provides a roadmap for how to get
past these roadblocks so that you don’t keep having the same argument for years on
As a Christian counselor, this approach
lines up with what I believe brings healing: connecting with the Lord, and connecting with each other in
healthy ways. Research
in neuroscience continues to validate this approach. In my experience of working with couples
in private practice over the past 13 years, it simply works.