Dating Someone With Depression: 7 Ways to Support Their Struggle

Dating someone with depression is undoubtedly challenging. From tears and social withdrawal to stormy moods, changes in appetite, sleepless nights and a lowered sex drive – depression can have a devastating effect on your partner, but also on you and the relationship between you. In this article, we describe the symptoms and treatment options for depression before taking you through 7 ways that you can support your partner through their illness.

What is Depression?

Depression is a psychiatric condition that usually comes with intense feelings of sorrow, hopelessness, worthlessness and/or guilt; and these may come on gradually or suddenly – not only following a traumatic or stressful event. Importantly, depression is more than just about of everyday sadness – an emotion which we all experience from time to time. Beyond what you feel emotionally, depression also affects your thoughts, behaviors, and self-esteem, making it incredibly difficult to live a normal life.

Common Symptoms

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Altered sleep patterns: you may find yourself sleeping more than usual or struggling to sleep
  • Changes in the way you eat: you may eat less or have more food cravings, leading to weight changes
  • Feeling hopeless and/or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide which may be accompanied by suicide attempts
  • Difficulties with concentration, which may make it difficult for you to perform your job, or even smaller daily tasks
  • You may lose interest in activities that you previously enjoyed
  • You may experience physical sensations, such as aches and pains

Common Treatments

Research shows that both medication and therapy affect the brain in similar ways and are equally effective in reducing depressive symptoms. While there are many medications and therapy modalities out there, these are some of the more popular options for treating depression:

  • Medications: your GP or psychiatrist may prescribe antidepressants such as Prozac, Lexapro or Zoloft. Medication is often combined with talk therapy because the antidepressants put you in a space where you’re able to take full advantage of the benefits of counseling.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: this common form of talk therapy explores how your life’s history may be affecting your current difficulties. The psychodynamic approach also focuses on how your unconscious – aspects of your mind that you’re not always aware of – might be causing or worsening your symptoms. This is a good option for people who want to heal by understanding themselves on a deeper level.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): this is another popular form of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative thoughts patterns which underlie your symptoms. During this process, you will learn specific skills and techniques that will help you to cope; and CBT is a good option for people who are looking for straightforward and practical solutions.

Does My Partner Have Depression?

While some people tick all the boxes and qualify for a diagnosis of clinical depression (also known as major depressive disorder), others may have just a few symptoms, falling short of the full diagnosis. If your partner is showing signs of depression but isn’t ready to be assessed by a professional, you may be unsure as to whether they have clinical depression, symptoms of depression or another condition altogether. Regardless of the diagnostic label that we use, there are certain things that you can do to help your partner cope with these upsetting symptoms.

How To Support a Partner With Depression

There are several things that you can do to show your partner that you’re there for them as they walk this difficult path. Here are some pointers:

  • Depression is Complicated

If you’re dating someone with depression, it helps to understand the complexity of what they’re going through. This involves acknowledging that ordinary sadness and depression look similar but are actually very different experiences. While sadness is a transient and normal (even healthy) part of life, depression is a psychiatric disorder that may not pass without proper treatment. This also means accepting that the things which you might use to get over a bad mood – taking a jog, catching up with friends, watching a movie or just thinking positively – are probably not going to work for your partner. Furthermore, unlike sadness, depression is not something that you can simply talk your partner out of: it’s only by listening and showing that you care that you can indirectly help in your partner’s struggle against this disorder.

  • It’s Not About You

A person with depression may put on a brave face when they bump into a friend at the supermarket or when their cousin pops over for coffee, but this does not mean that everything is okay. The closer you are to a person with depression, the more likely you are to witness their real and raw emotions, from melancholia and hopelessness to irritation and angry outbursts.

If you’re dating someone with depression, it’s easy to take things personally and assume that, for example, you’re not able to cheer up your partner the way their friend or cousin can. You may also take stock of the fact that the unpleasant feelings are only expressed around you and assume that this is because you’re causing the depression. The fact that your partner is expressing their darkest thoughts and feelings to you and not other people means that they feel safe enough in your presence to do so – not that you’re eliciting these feelings in them! To support your partner, you need to acknowledge that this is not about you.

  • Not Everything is Because of Depression

Separating your partner from their depression can be therapeutic: this is the difference between saying ‘you’re a depressed person’ versus ‘you have depression’. Speaking of depression as a separate entity can help your partner feel better about what they’re going through. For example: “it’s the depression that’s sapping all of your energy” or “you feel hopeless right now because your depression is affecting your thoughts”.

However, if you’re dating someone with depression and find that you’re using this line of reasoning to invalidate genuine concerns that they might be having, this can be incredibly hurtful to them and to your relationship. A person with depression is still in touch with reality and they may feel appropriately upset or angry about what’s going on in their lives.

Your partner may, for example, want to discuss an issue about your relationship, pointing out what you could be doing differently. If you defensively invalidate this sort of statement by saying that it’s the depression talking, you are disempowering them by implying that having depression means they can’t have a valid opinion on anything.

  • Understand You Can’t “Fix” Them

If you’re dating someone with depression, it’s natural to feel an urge to “fix” them. But to truly support them, you need let go of this idea. Why? First, there is no quick fix for depression: the process of recovery takes time and works in ways that brain scientists have not yet fully understood.

Second, depression is a medical condition. You wouldn’t try to “fix” diabetes or cancer and the same rules apply for depression: support your partner, but let the professionals take responsibility for effecting therapeutic change.

Third, by trying to fix them, you’re setting both of you up for failure, which might lead your partner to feel guilty and this could further fuel the depression. Fourth, by simply being supportive without trying to “fix” them, you’re sending out the message that you love them unconditionally and that you’ll be with them whatever they’re going through. On the other hand, by trying to fix them you’re communicating that you’re not okay with the situation and that you need them to change.

Dating Someone With Depression

  • Keep Open Communication

Connecting with someone who is depressed can be challenging because during those moments you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of feeling their pain. You may also feel unsure of what to say or you may worry about saying the wrong thing and making things worse. But if you’re dating someone with depression, communication really is key.

Focus on listening and being fully present while they speak. Maintain eye contact and ask questions when you don’t completely understand the situation; and try not to give practical advice or judge what they say. If it feels appropriate, encourage your loved one to describe what they’re feeling emotionally – but be open to the possibility that they may not want to be ‘counseled’ and might prefer to chat more generally or perhaps simply watch TV or spend time alone.

At the end of the day, however, what you say doesn’t matter all that much. This is because effective communication amounts to far more than just saying the right thing. Good communication is about sending the message – verbally and non-verbally – that you’re present and that you care.

  • Depression Can Affect Your Sex Life

If you see a psychologist for the first time, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked about your sex life. Why? Sexual functioning is like a health barometer: it’s difficult to keep functioning normally in the bedroom if something is not quite right when it comes to your health. Depression is no exception and people with this condition are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction and a lack of sex drive. This is not just because it’s hard to become aroused when you’re not in a good mood, but because depression affects our hormones, brain chemicals, and bodily functions.

Furthermore, many antidepressant medications list lowered sex drive as a side-effect, so it really may feel as if you’re stuck between a rock and hard place in this situation. Naturally, this can put extra strain on your relationship. To support your partner, however, you need to recognize that changes in sexual functioning are par for the course and that they do not imply that your partner has lost interest in you. Address this by finding other ways to be intimate. You can do this by, for example, having an open conversation, sharing dinner and a movie, giving a non-sexual massage or even initiating a good cuddle session.

  • Don’t Forget Self-Care

Dating someone with depression can be challenging: your lifestyle changes, as does your relationship and sex life. You’re suddenly spending much more time listening to and experiencing a range of difficult thoughts and emotions. You’re probably also feeling that you’re unable to speak about your own experience through all of this or any other issues that you might be grappling with, in case this makes your partner feel like a burden.

Ultimately, however, you need to be practicing self-care, which means taking deliberate action to support yourself emotionally and/or physically. You can do this by, for example, actively taking time to do something that you enjoy. Make sure that you’re eating healthily, getting enough exercise and sleeping properly; and if you’re carrying a lot of stress, find a friend, family member, counselor or support group that you can debrief with when needed. It’s important to recognize that you’re only going to be able to support your partner effectively if you’re looking after yourself at the same time – a car won’t go far if the fuel tank is running on empty.

Final Thoughts

We’ve all heard the adage that nothing good comes easy. This is true when it comes to dating someone with a depression – a potentially confusing, challenging, exhausting and even scary experience. But the depression also gives you an opportunity to connect on a deeper level; and by showing that you will be there for them through even the toughest of times, your relationship is likely to grow and strengthen considerably.

Remember: it’s not your role to treat their depression. By simply being there for your partner, you’ve got the best chance of quickening their recovery while strengthening your bond at the same time.

7 Tips on How to Break Up With Someone Compassionately

Why do we usually end up staying in unhappy relationships? Why do we give so much to people who don’t understand that they should give back? Why do we feel the need to justify bad behavior?

If you have asked any of these questions to yourself, you may also be wondering about how to break up with someone.

Heartache is not nearly as destructive as being stuck in a damaging relationship. Heartache can heal while staying in an unhealthy relationship, for whatever reason, can be traumatizing.

Is it Time to Move On?

No one enters a romantic relationship thinking that someday it will end. But, despite our best efforts, we have to face the fact that many relationships will end.

No matter how hard we sometimes want for a relationship to last forever, we may not always get what we need out of it. Moreover, some relationships can be downright damaging, especially if we are faced with problems that can’t be solved.

Even when we try our best to work at a relationship and to meet our partner’s needs, it is sometimes best to part ways.

Preparing Yourself

While being broken up with remains a terrible experience, people sometimes forget that it is also terrible to be the one who initiates the break-up, and to figure out how to do it. Think about it: you did love this person at some point in time and you may still care about them. Seeing someone you hold dear getting hurt can be daunting and now you have to be the one who does the hurting.

Getting Clear On What You Want

The decision of breaking up with someone should not be brought on by something your partner did recently that made you upset. It should be decided after a long-term assessment of the relationship, with compatibility being a key factor to consider.

If you are not completely sure if you want to break up, don’t obsess about the current state of the relationship; give it a little more time and perhaps something will happen to give you the push you needed. You can also think about the reasons why you may want to stay or even talk to your partner about the relationship.

You need to be sure about whether you want to end the relationship before you think about how to break up with someone. Don’t start second-guessing yourself once you have made a decision or you may end up reconsidering the relationship each time something good happens.

Remember, there will always be a reason to stay. Therefore, if you have already considered every possible scenario and still ended up deciding to leave there is no use getting caught up in the cycle.

Once you have made up your mind, move forward with the breakup before irrational thoughts get in your way.

Getting Perspective on Your Relationship

A breakup should not be an “out of the blue” appearance and instead, it needs special consideration.

A good way to gain some perspective into the relationship is to share your concerns with your partner and then to try and work through them together. You may be the one who needs to make a decision and you need to communicate your feelings to your partner even if you think that this may disappoint or hurt them.

Your partner should be included as much as possible if you don’t want them to be surprised by the idea of you wanting to leave them. This can be very confusing and, to be honest, traumatic.

At least consider giving your partner and maybe even yourself a chance to fix things.

Talking It Over With Friends and Family

Breaking up may seem like a very personal issue. But remember that sharing your feelings about a dysfunctional relationship with people whose advice and support you value can help you to get more clarity.

Think about informing a couple of your close friends or family members about the upcoming break up ahead of time so that you will have enough support during your difficult transition.

A support system of people who care about you can be extremely helpful especially in times when you feel alone or lost.

Breaking Up

Even though it may be hard to decide that a relationship has reached its end, research has shown that certain ways of breaking it off with someone are more effective than others.

Moreover, you can learn certain techniques that should help the breakup process proceed smoothly. Here are seven tips on how to break up with someone compassionately.

  1. Say the words, “I Want to Break Up”

Being dumped really hurts and it kind of feels like an insult. Therefore, it would be a good idea to say words like “I think it’s time for us to break up” or “I am breaking up with you” when you begin the conversation.

Also, saying the actual words makes the situation more real and there is no risk for any misunderstandings.

Making a straightforward, direct statement is much like ripping off a Band-Aid; it may sting at first but in the end it is a far more considerate approach.

  1. Be Honest and Open

The most successful break-up conversations convey open and honest reasons why the relationship is no longer fixable.

Don’t point fingers and rather try to communicate your feelings openly. Tell your partner about how you may have been feeling unappreciated, disconnected or unloved or talk about things that may have caused you to drift apart like different core values or the fact that you may want different things out of life.

You also need to be honest about it if you are leaving your partner for someone else, because if they see you with someone else, the shock will be much worse if they didn’t know about it ahead of time.

Express your desire to break up openly and discuss your honest wishes with your partner.

  1. Use “I” Statements

When you have the breakup talk, try to avoid “You” statements as they tend to cast blame and they may cause your partner to become defensive. The danger here is that, by using “You” statements, you begin a cascade of reactionary responses and the conversation ends up becoming a “war of words”.

A much better approach to the problem of how to break up with someone would be to use “I” statements as they make it clear that you are the source of the message. You are, in other words, the owner of the statement and therefore; you are fully responsible for it.

By owning your thoughts and your verbal contributions to the conversation, you may not only take the blame away from the other person, but you may also empower yourself.

How to Break Up With Someone

  1. Avoid Blame

Avoid blaming your partner or hurting their feelings. Blame just sets the conversation back a few steps seeing as it is more about punishment than about moving forward.

Be cautious of casting all of the blame onto someone else when it is your decision to break-up. Don’t talk about what they did wrong and especially don’t comment negatively on their personality.

Stay focused on the breakup instead of talking about “who’s to blame” because you don’t want the conversation to get side-tracked.

  1. Explain Your Thinking

In a breakup, try to put your feelings into words. Describe your feelings clearly to ensure that the other person accurately understands them.

Your partner may not see certain things in the same light as you do and, therefore, it is extremely important to be clear about how you feel.

Try convincing your partner that the breakup is better for both of you.

Moreover, you could think about emphasizing the fact that you also gained good things from the relationship or you could even consider telling the person that you don’t regret the time spent in your relationship.

  1. Give Them Space For Their Emotions

You may be entirely concerned with how to break up with someone all the while forgetting that they also have emotions and that they will very likely react to your proposal for a breakup.

You need to give your partner some space to work through their emotions and seeing as each person deals differently with different situations you may need to be prepared for the worse.

Accept the fact that they may say things that will hurt you. People tend to react badly when they are on the receiving end of a break-up. Your partner may beg you to stay, get angry, get sad and he/she may even try to bargain with you.

The best thing to do in this situation is to acknowledge that you hear what they are trying to say, even if you do not agree with it. And, most importantly, don’t let their reaction throw you off course; stick to the plan.

  1. Stick With Your Decision

There is always a reason to stay with someone and there is almost never a perfect time to end a relationship. If you keep focusing on all the reasons “not to break up” you will end up in a spiral of uncertainty.

If, after careful consideration, you have decided to break it off with someone, don’t stall. Get it done so that both of you can move on.

This being said, try not to leave on a sour note and try leaving without any hard feelings.

After the Breakup

The period after a break-up is a difficult time. To help you deal with the pain of ending a relationship you need to get support and look after yourself. There is no need to suffer alone.

Lean on Your Support Group

After the break-up, tell your friends and family as soon as you get a chance. It is highly advisable to share the news with your inner circle of trust immediately to prevent yourself from feeling lonely or even from isolating yourself from other people.

Meeting up with your friends and going out rather than sitting at home alone is a must for people who struggle to move on.

If you don’t have time to see your friends or family members face to face, stay connected over the phone or on social media.


It is essential for you to remember to prioritize your health after a break-up. Some of the most important skills for coping with relationship withdrawal are proper sleep, exercise, healthy dieting, and social interaction.

Stay away from alcohol, drugs and other harmful things that may cause you physical damage or even emotional damage. This will all pile up and you may end up in an even worse condition.

Rather focus on keeping your physical health in order so that you can be better equipped to handle your emotional issues.

Plan Your Social Media Approach

Breaking up is hard and, to boot, we are all interconnected through social media. For that reason, you need to have a game plan for your social media.

The best approach would be to allow some time before changing your relationship status so that it doesn’t become too public too soon.

From there most decisions will be entirely up to you. You may want to unfriend your ex-partner to make things easier. You may also think about saving images that remind you of the ended relationship to a flash drive and deleting them from your social media.

Whatever you decide to do, be adult about it and don’t act rationally; you may just regret it.

Move On

There are several reasons why it is hard to break up with someone, but this does not mean that you have to stay in a dysfunctional or damaging relationship.

If you get to the point where your relationship just doesn’t make sense anymore, it is time to let go; it doesn’t matter how much you hate being the one who has to break up with your partner.

By using the strategies for how to break up with someone compassionately, a breakup can be dealt with effectively and without bitter emotions; the healthy way.


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201509/4-ways-break-someone-compassionately
  2. https://www.thecut.com/article/how-to-break-up-with-someone.html
  3. https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/how-to-break-up-with-someone-like-an-actual-adult?utm_term=.doQQgxgBJ#.madxL0LRV
  4. https://www.bustle.com/p/how-long-should-you-wait-to-break-up-how-to-figure-out-the-timing-thats-best-for-you-according-to-experts-3017759
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-image-professor/201003/the-classy-break-conversational-templates-saying-good-bye

6 Signs You’re in a Loveless Marriage and 7 Things You Can Do About it Now

Surviving a loveless marriage is perhaps one of the toughest challenges some couples face. From cheating and lying to working sixteen hours a day and spending too little time doing the things that bring you closer, there are numerous reasons why the love that brought you together can run thin.

In fact, there are times when you can’t even put your finger on a specific reason why you no longer feel physically or emotionally attracted to your partner.

And the worst part is that many couples don’t even realize that the small day-to-day arguments and criticism are the tinder that will eventually cause their marriage to crash and burn.

Before you can bring your loveless marriage back to life, sit down with your significant other and have an honest conversation about how things have been between you lately.

Are You in a Loveless Marriage?

A marriage doesn’t turn sour overnight. When two people who love each other so much that they’ve decided to spend the rest of their life together begin to feel like strangers, there’s always a history of arguing, criticism, and other dysfunctional attitudes; kind of like a prologue to disaster.

If you learn to spot these signs, you can avoid reaching the point where your relationship is beyond repair. Let’s look at six telltale signs of a loveless marriage:

1. Criticism

At some point, we’ve all experienced the detestable sensation that occurs when someone criticizes us or makes an offensive remark.

Criticism is among the most common toxic behaviors that can ruin a healthy and fulfilling relationship. It’s hard to keep love alive when you and your partner are constantly pointing out each other’s flaws and mistakes.

In a way, criticism is like rust; it slowly erodes your marriage until the last shred of love turns to dust. And the worst part is that most of us tend to criticize the person, not the behavior or decision. For example, instead of saying “You should have paid the bills. Please be more careful next time” we make our significant other feel miserable by saying “Why didn’t you pay the bills!? You’re such an irresponsible person.

Challenge the behavior, not the person!

2. Contempt

In broad lines, contempt is a feeling of disregard for someone or something; a lack of consideration or respect for other people’s feelings, actions, opinions, preferences, and decisions. It’s the exact opposite of admiration, adoration, honor, esteem, and sympathy.

Constant criticism paves the way for contempt. When your partner disregards everything you say, and you criticize everything he or she does, you eventually end up hating each other.

Contempt can affect your relationship to the point where you avoid each other’s company because you know that everything you say or do can result in emotional pain or spark a heated argument.

3. Defensiveness

In theory, we can all agree that humans are flawed and imperfect. There are times when we make mistakes, hurt other people’s feelings, and show zero consideration for our partner’s needs and desires.

But the worst part is that when someone points out our flaws, we instinctively get defensive. We find excuses, blame others, and minimize the consequences of our actions. We do everything we can to avoid the unpleasant feeling associated with facing our shortcomings.

In a marriage, this attitude will block any attempt to fix the relationship and restore the love that brought you together.

4. Stonewalling

Along with criticism, contempt, and defensiveness, stonewalling is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which symbolize the four negative behaviors that John Gottman believe can predict the end of a relationship or marriage.

Just like defensiveness, stonewalling kills any attempt to heal a broken marriage. It’s impossible to overcome relationship stumbles when one partner tries to open a conversation, and the other would do anything but reply.

In time, this attitude will generate a toxic relationship climate in which problems are swept under the rug, and silence replaces uncomfortable (but potentially healing) conversations.

5. Lack of Intimacy

A healthy relationship means more than just the absence of conflicts. Lasting marriages include both constructive disputes and frequent moments of intimacy that strengthen the bond between partners.

Intimacy is a critical aspect of every relationship. Couples need intimacy to share meaningful experiences and cultivate passion.

And it’s not just about sex. Intimacy creates a safe environment where the two of you can nurture positive emotions and discuss ideas freely.

The absence of intimacy will almost always lead to break up, divorce, or separation.

6. Time Spent Apart

When heated arguments are a constant part of a couple’s daily interactions, love and intimacy begin to fade. The two partners will avoid each other’s company and seek comfort in solitude.

I’m sure each of us has heard about couples who decide to take a break, hoping to sort things out. Sadly, this approach rarely leads to reconciliation. In fact, spending too much time apart will most likely result in divorce.

When struggling to survive a loveless marriage, the best thing you can do is have an honest conversation and try to fix the cracks in your marriage before it falls apart completely.

Loveless Marriage

How You Can Start Working on Your Unhappy Marriage

Fixing a loveless marriage is never easy. Both you and your significant other need to be 100% honest about your flaws and fully committed to making significant changes that will spark the passion and strengthen your union.

Here are a few steps that will help you turn an unhappy marriage into a strong and lasting relationship:

1. Evaluate Your Priorities

The first step in fixing a loveless marriage is setting your priorities straight. In other words, you need to sit down with your significant other and work on a clear action plan.

Since each of you probably has their priorities, putting them down on paper will help you understand each other’s needs and desires.

This is the step where you renegotiate the terms of your relationship and plan a better future for your marriage.

Put aside pride, selfishness, and criticism for a moment and focus on fixing your loveless marriage.

2. Get Specific on Your Needs and Desires

One of the reasons why good marriages go bad is because partners fail to resonate with each other’s needs and desires. In fact, there are times when we’re so self-centered that we don’t even know what our partner wants and needs.

If that’s the case, ask your partner to list his/her specific needs and desires.

Being mindful of your partner’s needs and desires is a sign of appreciation and respect. In other words, you show your significant other that you love and care about them enough to put yourself second.

Such gestures of altruism cultivate love and set the foundation for a lasting and fulfilling marriage. However, this strategy works only if your partner returns the gesture. Otherwise, the marriage becomes unbalanced.

3. Get Specific on How You May Be Contributing to the Problem

Aside from understanding and resonating with each other’s needs, another crucial step in healing your broken marriage is having an open conversation about how each of you is contributing to the problem.

This is the part where criticism and defensiveness might spark some heated arguments. In general, people are reluctant to admit their mistakes and change their dysfunctional attitudes.

But without honesty, mutual understanding, and personal growth the chances of fixing your loveless marriage are slim to none.

Look deep within yourself, shed light on how you may be contributing to the problems that affect your marriage, and take the necessary steps to overcome them.

4. Have a Blame-Free Conversation on Neutral Ground

When two life partners discuss the less pleasant aspects of their marriage, there’s always the chance that one might blame the other.

Unfortunately, the minute you start blaming each other for the poor condition of your marriage, any attempt to rekindle the love and passion in your relationship goes down the drain.

A counselor’s office might be the ideal place to have a blame-free conversation under the careful guidance of a licensed professional who can spot and eliminate any trace of blame and criticism from the conversation.

5. Start Small

When working on bringing back the love in your marriage, baby steps the way to go. Considering the vulnerable place you’re in, significant changes might be hard to achieve, and another failure is definitely something you want to avoid.

Start small and work together toward a lasting marriage. There will be times when progress is slow, times when you might fall back into your old habits. However, with enough patience, you will eventually rebuild your broken relationship.

Celebrate each victory your achieve and each milestone you overcome as it brings you closer to the fulfilling marriage you once enjoyed.

6. Give It Time

They say time heals all wounds, time and the active involvement of both partners.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. When working to heal your loveless marriage, patience is one of the critical elements.

If you pressure your life partner and make hasty decisions, chances are you might repeat the same mistakes that crippled your relationship in the first place.

Give it time, and you will be amazed at the positive changes that come with patience.

7. Seek Outside Help

No matter how determined you are to fix your broken marriage, motivation alone rarely leads to significant changes.

Most couples fail to bring passion back into their loveless marriage because they’re trapped in the same vicious circle of blame, criticism, and defensiveness.

The best way to approach this problem is by addressing a marriage counselor who can provide an unbiased opinion and help you design an intervention plan based on your needs, desired, and priorities.

According to a 2017 article, group counseling based on the Acceptance and Commitment approach could increase marital adjustment of couples.

Seeking outside help is not a sign of weakness, but an authentic attempt to pick up the broken pieces of your marriage and restore the love that brought you together.

Should You Stay or Leave?

No matter how hard we struggle to save a loveless marriage, there are times when divorce seems like the only option left.

When progress is slow, and motivation hangs by a thread, putting time and effort into healing the relationship might prove to be a bad investment.

Reasons People Stay

There are countless reasons why partners choose to stay in a loveless marriage. Maybe they do it for the sake of the children (parenting marriage), or perhaps they think it’s too late to start over.

If you choose to stay, dig deep within yourself and discover the exact reason why you want to continue a relationship that no longer fulfills your needs.

Is it because you still hope your partner will agree to work on fixing the cracks in your relationship? (good reason)

Is it because you think you won’t be able to survive on your own? (bad reason)

Is it because you believe a divorce will have a profound and irreparable impact on your children? (bad reason)

Is it because, despite constant conflicts, there’s still a shred of love keeping you together? (good reason)

If you choose to stay, make sure you stay for the right reasons.

Reasons People Split

According to an article written by Fredric Neuman M.D. for Psychology Today, there are countless reasons why couples choose to split. From infidelity, bad temper, or selfishness to violent behavior, alcoholism, or drug use, the list of reasons can go on for hours.

When a marriage is beyond repair, divorce – no matter how unpleasant, painful, or time-consuming might be – is a viable option.

But before you get to that point, make sure to sit down with your significant other and go through all other alternatives.

What to Decide

In the end, no one can decide for you.

Whether you choose to split and go on separate roads or stay and heal your loveless marriage, the only person who can make this decision is you.

A friend, family member, or marriage counselor can only lend an empathetic ear and provide an outside opinion – the rest is up to you.

Want To Talk to a Counselor Today? Click Here.

7 Benefits of Online Marriage Counseling

Online marriage counseling refers to couples therapy that is conducted over the internet. It helps married and unmarried couples to understand presenting issues, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationship.

What is Online Marriage Counseling?

Online marriage counseling, also known as online couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that offers a digital alternative to conventional, face-to-face marriage counseling. Online couples therapy helps couples to gain insight into their relationship and make sound decisions on their future. Partners may learn skills to improve their communication and enhance their relationship. In some cases, couples use online marriage counseling to find out how to end their relationship in an amicable manner.

There are many different types of online marriage counseling. Sessions generally take place in the clients’ home and may be conducted via video conferencing, instant messaging, or email paired with telephone conversations. Online marriage counseling is usually a short-term treatment. While both partners are typically involved, one partner may decide to seek counseling alone.

Online marriage counseling is provided by licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). Many LMFTs in the United States are credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Why Online Marriage Counseling?

Couples must nurture, defend, and strengthen their emotional bonds if they want their relationship to last. If a couple is unable to resolve their marital issues on their own, they may seek assistance from a licensed marriage and family therapist. Some partners may go to counseling sessions even if their relationship is in good health. Marriage mates who make use of counseling services before they notice signs of trouble report improved marital functioning, lower rates of separation, and a better sex life.

There are a variety of reasons couples may seek online marriage counseling rather than traditional marriage counseling sessions. Seven key benefits are listed below.

  1. Accessibility

Online marriage counseling is very accessible. Couples may receive relationship assistance on the internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. There are several established companies that provide online relationship therapy services. In most cases, partners only need to register an account to use the services offered.

Couples who take advantage of online marriage counseling are able to set regular appointments with a licensed marriage counselor, receive relationship tips, join group therapy sessions, and access many other features. These features are usually available at the click of a button.

  1. Affordability

Some couples may forego traditional marriage counseling—even if they know they need it—because they are unable to afford the service. Although the cost of online marriage counseling may vary, it is typically less expensive than in-person marriage counseling. Some companies provide online relationship therapy services for free, while others offer the option of a monthly subscription. Subscription fees typically start at $18 per month

In addition to paying less for services, online marriage counseling helps couples to save money in other ways. For example, couples do not have to travel to a counselor’s office, buy food on the go, or take time off from work to meet an appointment. Many online marriage counselors offer free initial appointments. As there is a reduced need for office space, furnishings, and appointment setters, online marriage counseling generally has lower overhead costs than conventional marriage therapy.

Online Marriage Counseling

  1. Comfort

Many people feel anxious when visiting a therapist’s office. However, online marriage counseling allows couples to get the help they need from the comfort of their own home. Being in familiar surroundings helps many partners to drop their defenses, open up, and share their concerns. Partners may also feel less intimidated when speaking to a marriage counselor online than face-to-face.

Online marriage counseling also eliminates the hassle of traveling to an appointment. Factors such as heavy traffic, road rage, and unpleasant weather are completely avoided. Even couples with busy schedules may benefit from online marriage counseling. As the approach is highly flexible, an appointment may fit comfortably into a couple’s regular routine.

  1. Privacy

Privacy is a major issue when seeking marriage counseling or other forms of professional care. Many intimate partners feel uncomfortable when other people are aware they are experiencing challenges in their relationship. A lack of privacy may also affect other aspects of a couple’s day-to-day life. For example, some marriage mates may lose sponsorships, endorsements, or certain job opportunities if their marital challenges become public knowledge.

Online marriage counseling offers extremely high levels of privacy. All counseling records and sessions are kept confidential and secure. As sessions are typically conducted in the homes of clients, there is no risk of accidentally meeting friends, acquaintances, workmates, or other family members at a marriage counselor’s office.

  1. Documentation is Accessible

Proper documentation is available for online marriage counseling. Clear and up-to-date records help couples to see the overall progress they are making and keep track of specific changes in their relationship. They may also review recommendations and tips provided by their marriage counselor. Couples may access, open, and review their documentation anytime they want.

  1. Can Help Long Distance Couples

Online marriage counseling is an excellent option for intimate partners who are separated by long distances. This physical separation may be due to work-related travel, a recent conflict in the relationship, or other reasons. Counselors may arrange video conference calls where partners can speak to each other and receive professional guidance on the best way to address their concerns.

  1. Options

Intimate partners who use online marriage counseling services have a range of options available to them. Although professional counselors receive similar training, there are important factors that may influence couples to choose one counselor over another. Some of these factors include:

  • Personality – some couples may respond better to a therapist who is naturally lively, animated, or bubbly. Other couples may prefer a therapist who is calm, measured, and always in control.
  • Counseling style or therapeutic approach – depending on the needs of the couple, marriage counselors may use techniques from a variety of therapeutic modalities. Popular evidence-based modalities such as imago relationship therapy, narrative therapy, the Gottman method, positive psychology, emotionally focused couples therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy may be used in counseling sessions. Couples may seek assistance from a specific counselor if he or she uses a counseling style that is comfortable and effective.
  • Professional experience – some partners may prefer working with a counselor who has helped many couples over the course of many years. Other couples who have not benefited from traditional marriage counseling techniques in the past may prefer working with a counselor who brings a novel approach to online couples therapy.
  • Personal relationship experience – married couples may feel more comfortable getting advice from a therapist who has been happily married for many years. Some married couples may be concerned that a counselor who has never been married is unable to understand and relate to their issues.
  • Expertise – many marriage counselors specialize in addressing a particular marital or relationship issue. Common marital concerns include intimacy, financial challenges, fertility issues, adoption, dealing with in-laws, chronic health issues, child-rearing, and lack of communication. Couples that are experiencing difficulty in a particular area may prefer to speak to a marriage therapist who specializes in treating their specific concern.
  • Availability – online marriage counseling is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. However, individual marriage counselors may have specific times when they provide counseling over the internet. If couples require late night or early morning sessions they may have to search online for a marriage counselor who provides services at those times.
  • Type of platform used – some couples are not as tech-savvy as others. Partners who are comfortable using one type of platform (such as instant messaging) may be unable or unwilling to try others (such as video conferencing). These couples will likely prioritize working with a counselor who uses technology they are familiar with.

There is no standardized approach to online marriage counseling. Relationship issues may vary from couple to couple. Even couples with similar issues may have different experiences. However, the variety of options available means partners are able to access customized care that fits their specific needs and circumstances.

Challenges of Online Marriage Counseling

There are a number of challenges associated with online marriage counseling. Chief among them is the fact that services may be offered by individuals who are untrained or unqualified to provide professional assistance. Some online counselors believe they are exempt from the regulations of conservative professional organizations and choose not to earn licensure. Couples are encouraged to check the credentials of their online marriage counselor before they decide to work with him or her.

Location is another concern for some couples who are interested in online marriage counseling. Many marriage counselors are licensed to provide counseling services in specific states. These restrictions may apply even for services that are offered online. This means a marriage counselor who is licensed to practice in one state may be unable to offer online counseling to marriage mates who live in another state.

While there are many benefits of online marriage counseling, this form of talk therapy is not ideal for everyone. Some couples may be affected by serious mental or emotional issues that cannot be adequately addressed online. For example, partners who are experiencing schizophrenia, dementia, suicidal ideation, severe substance addiction, or other chronic concerns may require medication or intensive forms of treatment in residential or inpatient settings.

Online marriage counseling is not recommended for couples with a history of abuse. An abusive partner is unlikely to participate in therapy and may react violently if he or she discovers his or her partner is speaking to a marriage counselor. Even if the abusive partner consents to counseling, online sessions may not be effective. This is because the abused partner may be afraid to speak openly and honestly about what has taken place in the relationship.

Other challenges to online marriage counseling include:

  • Cheaper Chat Options Can Feel Less Personal

Some critics of online marriage counseling believe online marriage counseling is less personal and less effective than traditional couples therapy. They contend that it may be difficult for partners to make eye contact and converse with each other while having to pay attention to a computer screen. Other issues include impaired communication during sessions. For example, a marriage counselor is less likely to notice hand gestures, nervous mannerisms, or other forms of nonverbal communication during the counseling session if it takes place online.

  • Fear of Failure

Despite the fact that online marriage counseling is available for healthy couples, most people seek professional guidance only after they have already given up on their relationship. Rather than a source of constant emotional support and advice, counseling is often viewed as a last resort. Some married couples view online marriage counseling merely as a convenient way to get divorced on friendly terms. Due to the stigma associated with couples therapy, premarital couples and newlyweds may avoid online marriage counseling even though it may help them form stronger emotional bonds in the future.

Getting Started

If couples are experiencing relationship issues they can speak to a licensed marriage and family therapist at Thrive Talk. Thrive Talk offers online access to a dedicated and compassionate team of skilled marriage counselors. Couples may begin their first session in just three easy steps. With Thrive Talk, they can start building the intimate, supportive relationship they truly want, today.


Could your marriage benefit from counseling? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_connections/could-your-marriage-benefit-from-counseling

Heitler, S. (2014, July 9). What’s up with online therapy and marriage counseling? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201407/whats-online-therapy-and-marriage-counseling

Online marriage counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.allaboutcounseling.com/library/online-marriage-counseling/

Seen at 11: Online couples counseling. (2014, June 27). Retrieved from https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/seen-at-11-online-couples-counseling/

Tasker, R. (n.d.). 9 best couples counseling techniques and why you should try them. Retrieved from https://guidedoc.com/best-couples-counseling-techniques

The 8 benefits of online couples therapy. (2016, June 20). Retrieved from https://www.marriage.com/advice/therapy/the-8-benefits-of-online-couples-therapy/

9 Questions to Ask Before Marriage: The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling prepares couples for long-term commitment and can go a far way toward increasing marital satisfaction. While this form of therapy is traditionally conducted face-to-face, couples also have the option of engaging in premarital counseling online.

What is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling is a form of therapy designed to help couples enhance their readiness for marriage. This is done by helping partners to identify issues in their relationship and equipping them with the skills needed to work through present and future conflicts. Couples express their individual needs, preferences, and expectations regarding marriage and learn to resolve differences in ways that are mutually satisfying.

Premarital counseling is usually provided by licensed marriage and family therapists. However, some religious leaders offer counsel to engaged couples as a precondition for conducting their marriage ceremony. Couples typically meet with a therapist for five to seven sessions of premarital counseling. Online sessions help to make the process easier and can be used exclusively or in combination with in-person sessions.

Why Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling helps couples to better prepare for the demands of marriage. Within the context of a supportive environment, they learn to communicate more effectively and get the chance to explore topics they might otherwise find difficult to discuss.

Premarital counseling also draws people’s attention to weaknesses in their relationship so these can be addressed in a constructive way. It goes a step further by helping couples to anticipate future problems that could undermine their relationship so they are prepared if and when these arise.

The experience of premarital counseling helps to foster a more favorable attitude toward therapy in general. Couples who engage in premarital counseling are usually more willing to seek marriage counseling should it become necessary later in their relationship. Preliminary studies also suggest that premarital counseling may lower the risk of divorce.

The Questions

Many marital problems can be avoided if couples put as much effort into planning for their marriage as they do for their wedding. One way couples can do this is by actively thinking about issues they need to discuss before marriage and then spending time to work through them together. While it is not possible to anticipate every possible scenario that could develop, the following questions can alert couples to aspects of their relationship they may have overlooked but need to address before marriage.

  1. How do We Handle Family Stress?

Stress is a natural part of life and marriage brings its own fair share of it. Although each individual has his or her own unique way of managing stress, it is important for couples to consider how well these methods complement each other. What if both partners have a tendency to lash out or to fall apart when under pressure? What if one person has the habit of completely shutting the other out whenever difficulties arise? What if one partner prefers to talk through matters together but the other would rather deal with stress privately?  By openly discussing these issues before getting married, couples achieve a deeper understanding of each other and are better prepared to handle family stress as a cohesive unit.

  1. How do We Handle Family Finances?

Few things create as much conflict between married couples as the subject of money. Differences in income, spending habits and attitudes toward debt can place a huge strain on a marriage. Couples must address sensitive issues such as whether or not to keep their finances separate, who should cover various expenses, how much to spend on their first home, or whether to purchase a home in the first place. Conflicts often arise when individuals fail to disclose important details of their financial situation early in a relationship. Finding out after marriage that one’s partner has an enormous debt or a huge backlog in unpaid child support hardly bodes well for the relationship. By being honest and open with each other about matters such as these, couples can spare themselves major headaches and heartaches later on.

  1. How do We Handle Family Decisions?

Couples are faced with numerous decisions in marriage—where to live, how much money to spend, if and when to start a family, just to name a few. Before walking down the aisle, it is a good idea for couples to agree on what types of decisions need to be made together and how they will go about making such decisions. If one person always insists on having the last say, that is a major red flag which should be addressed before marriage. It is also wise for couples to discuss how they will handle situations where they strongly disagree about a particular matter.

  1. Should We Have Kids?

In most Western cultures, few individuals enter marriage without broaching the topic of kids—should they have any and if so, how many? The problem is that even when couples agree on these matters before marriage, their preferences could change afterward. How do they handle such a situation? What if they find out that they cannot conceive naturally? How do they feel about issues such as adoption, surrogacy, and in-vitro fertilization? Once children are in the picture, how will they be cared for? Will one partner become a stay-at-home parent? All of these are matters that should be thoroughly discussed before exchanging vows.

Premarital Counseling

  1. How do We Handle Jobs and Careers?

Since an individual’s job or career has many implications for family life, it is important that couples are clear on each other’s attitudes and expectations regarding work. Will both partners work after marriage or after having children? Is it expected that one or both partners will change jobs in the future, perhaps switching to a less demanding job or seeking a higher paying one? What if these expectations are not met? How committed are both individuals to their jobs or career? How will work affect the amount of time they spend with each other? What if one partner unexpectedly loses his or her job or suddenly decides to quit? And if one partner starts earning significantly more or less than before, how would that affect the relationship?

  1. How do We Handle Personal Space?

Marriage is intended to be a close partnership between two people. But even the most devoted couples need a little space to themselves every once in a while. Whether it’s a few hours alone with the TV remote, a night out on the town with the girls, or a whole week away with the guys, couples must learn to acknowledge and respect this need in their partner. In many cases, problems arise because partners differ greatly in their individual need for personal space. Without communication and mutual understanding in this regard, one partner could be left feeling smothered, lonely, rejected or resentful toward his or her mate.

  1. What Role do Family and Friends Play in Our Marriage?

It’s important to maintain a support system after marriage, but if couples fail to agree on appropriate boundaries, their friends and relatives may drive a serious wedge between them. Among the questions couples need to consider are: How comfortable am I around my partner’s extended family and close friends? Is it okay for my partner to discuss marital plans or problems with them? How involved will the in-laws be in our lives and how involved will we need to be in theirs? What if they become ill and need ongoing care and support? What if family members or friends ask for money? Am I comfortable with my partner communicating with his or her ex? What if my mate has a child with a previous partner, how will that affect our relationship? Needless to say, these are matters best discussed before, not after, marriage.

  1. How do We Handle Conflict?

For couples caught up in a whirlwind romance, a discussion about conflict might be the last thing on their minds. But no marriage is perfect and once the honeymoon phase wears off, couples will have to put their conflict management skills to good use if they want their marriage to survive. Knowing how the other person handles disagreements is important when planning for the future. What if one person insists on resolving conflicts as soon as they arise but the other prefers to wait until he or she is calm? What if one person has a tendency to give the silent treatment or to withhold sex when there is an argument? Do partners tend to say or do things in the heat of the moment that they later regret? How easy is it for them to apologize to each other? And at what point in a conflict would it be okay to ask a neutral party to intervene?

  1. How do We Approach Our Sex Life?

There’s no denying that sex is a big part of marriage. Yet, despite its significance, few couples spend enough time openly discussing their needs, desires, and expectations regarding sex. This is sometimes true even of couples who become intimate before marriage. But by avoiding a frank, honest discussion on the subject, couples risk becoming sexually frustrated and dissatisfied with their partners. How big a role is sex expected to play in their relationship? What if they differ greatly in terms of sexual desire? What if one partner’s interest in sex changes significantly due to illness, stress, or other factors? What are their thoughts regarding things like pornography and open marriages? What sexual acts are definitely off the table? True, it might be uncomfortable, if not difficult, to have these conversations but the benefits of doing so will be apparent long into a marriage.

Challenges of Premarital Counseling

The decision to engage in premarital counseling can arouse feelings of anxiety in some individuals. Whether it’s the thought of revealing one’s deepest emotions in the presence of a complete stranger, the possibility of uncovering hidden aspects of oneself or one’s partner, or the uncertainty of what to expect in therapy, persons may approach premarital counseling with a degree of hesitancy. Fortunately, they can overcome these fears with the help of a supportive therapist.

Other individuals might be uncomfortable discussing some of the sensitive topics typically raised in premarital counseling, such as sex and money. If these topics were never discussed before, some of their partner’s revelations may be experienced as shocking or hurtful. Nevertheless, if partners commit to working through their differences, they often emerge from therapy with a stronger bond than they had before.

The cost of premarital counseling can sometimes present a major challenge for couples. In light of all the expenses associated with planning a wedding, it is no surprise that some couples have difficulty finding counseling services that fit within their budget. It can also be a challenge for couples with busy schedules to find the time needed to attend all their sessions. This is especially true in cases where no suitable therapists are available in their area.

Premarital Counseling Online

In today’s technological age, an increasing number of therapists are beginning to see the benefits of offering premarital counseling online. This is often accomplished through the use of video conferencing programs such as Skype and FaceTime. When time, cost, and access to local therapists are an issue, online therapy may be the best option for couples due to the flexibility and convenience it affords. It is also ideal in cases where couples are involved in long distance relationships or frequently travel for work or other reasons.

Couples who opt for online therapy explore the same sort of issues they would in face-to-face sessions with a therapist. The advantage of doing premarital counseling online is that they may feel more at ease with the process since they can remain in the comfort of their own homes. However, if couples are experiencing major issues in their relationship such as addiction or abuse, or if tensions are running unusually high, face-to-face sessions might prove more effective.

If a couple is seriously considering marriage, it can be beneficial to speak to a licensed marriage and family therapist at Thrive Talk. Thrive Talk offers affordable premarital counseling online and all services are available in just a few swipes or clicks. Thrive Talk gives couples the opportunity to build for the long-term. Partners can learn how to resolve current issues and avoid future conflicts, today!


Bobby, L. M. (n.d.). Premarital counseling questions: Can you do premarital counseling online? Retrieved from https://www.growingself.com/premarital-counseling-online/

Bonior, A. (2017, May 24). 18 questions to ask before getting married. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/friendship-20/201705/18-questions-ask-getting-married

Premarital counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/premarital-counseling

Premarital counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theravive.com/therapedia/premarital-counseling

Stanford, E. (2016, March 24). 13 questions to ask before getting married. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/23/fashion/weddings/marriage-questions.html

Wong, B. (2018, March 9). 11 questions you should be able to answer before you get married. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/11-questions-you-should-be-able-to-answer-about-your-partner-before-you-get-married_us_5aa022d8e4b0e9381c14bdea



5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Relationship Counseling

Some people believe you will know you are truly in love, when everything feels easy and falls exactly into place. However, the reality is that love, even true love, is not always easy. This is because relationships are not easy. No matter how much you like and love one another, and how compatible you may be, there will be times when you disagree or even argue. When you recognize your relationship is not all that you want it to be, you might consider relationship counseling. Many people use relationship counseling for many different reasons. Learn more about this approach and how it can help you:

What is Relationship Counseling?

It is highly likely that you have heard of relationship counseling and have at least some ideas of what it might entail. Relationship counseling is similar in some ways to individual counseling. One difference is that you attend with your partner or partners. Another big difference is that the focus will be on the relationship, rather than any one person. However, in some cases, relationship counseling might reveal that one or both partners could also benefit from some individual counseling to address certain issues.

Relationship counseling usually involves regular sessions with one or more mental health providers. Sometimes couples may benefit from meeting with a pair of counselors, perhaps a pair that are themselves in a relationship. The relationship counseling sessions may be weekly or every other week, depending on the counselors’ recommendations and the couples’ preferences.

Why Relationship Counseling?

Relationship counseling can be beneficial at different points in a relationship and it can be used to address many different concerns. Some couples pursue relationship counseling early on to start well and establish healthy communication patterns. Many couples choose to pursue couples counseling before they marry or make a big commitment to one another to smooth out any potential problems.

There are also many other common concerns that might lead a couple to seek relationship counseling. One problem that sends many couples into counseling is infidelity. Many couples want help moving past this and are able to either repair the relationship or let the counseling process assist in bringing the relationship to an end. Obviously, it is ideal to seek counseling prior to this, to prevent the infidelity.

Couples who experience a loss, such as through miscarriage or the death of a child, often seek counseling to help them cope with their grief. Aside from this type of unexpected challenge, parenting is generally difficult. Many couples use relationship counseling to help them co-parent effectively and to balance that with also maintaining their core relationship.

Other issues that can drive couples into relationship counseling can be ongoing disagreements, new changes and challenges, and a sense of growing apart rather than together. Moreover, research from John Gottman has suggested that individuals with relationship problems tend to share some common challenges. Gottman entitled these challenges, the four horsemen.

Gottman’s Four Horsemen

After extensive research, Gottman found four factors that, when present, suggest major relationship problems likely to cause the end of a relationship or divorce. Gottman described these using the analogy of The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. In the relationship arena, these represent criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Learn more about each:

In Gottman’s model, criticism is more than just a critique of a specific issue. Instead, it is described as attacks on one’s partner. These attacks may go after more than just a specific characteristic and instead target their entire core character. When partners are too critical of one another, it can lead to feelings of rejection and emotional pain. Overtime, the behavior and the resulting feelings can eat away at a relationship, until it dissolves entirely.

Gottman’s second horsemen is contempt. When someone is feeling contempt towards another person, they behave in ways that are downright disrespectful. This may show up in behaviors such as name calling, making sarcastic comments, mimicking body language, and eye-rolling. The target of the contempt eventually feels worthless and despised. Both are unhappy.

Defensiveness is another horseman. This typically appears when one partner is responding to critique. It may appear as excuse making or even playing the innocent victim. This is not helpful because no improvement or growth can occur in the relationship. It will often leave the partner who made the critique feeling as though their concerns are not being taken seriously. Ultimately, they may also start to feel hopeless about whether there can be any improvement.

The final horseman is stonewalling. In this, one partner withdraws and shuts down, rather than participating in discussion. Again, this keeps problems from getting resolved. If left unaddressed it can be deleterious for a relationship. The exhibition of this or any of the other three horsemen typically suggests that a couple needs the help of relationship counseling.

From Boredom to Growth

Another issue that can drive couples to seek relationship counseling is boredom. Often when couples become bored it is because things have become standard and routine. This may occur both in and outside the bedroom. When a couple is feeling bored, and perhaps as though they are stagnating, relationship counseling can give them the boost they need. A couples counselor can help the partners identify the areas for improvement to move away from boredom. In a healthy relationship, both partners should instead feel they are able to grow in the relationship.

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

Many couples struggle to communicate because one or both partners is unable to identify their own emotions and unable to recognize the way those emotions affect the relationship. For this reason, Emotion-Focused Therapy is a helpful approach in relationship counseling. In EFT, the partners are taught more about emotions, how to recognize them, how to express them, and how to manage them well as a couple, rather than letting those emotions run wild and negatively affect the relationship.

Relationship Counseling

5 Tips for Couples Therapy

If you choose to attend therapy, you want to make the most of it and get as much out of it as possible. Aside from finding the right therapist and attending regularly, there are a few other things you can do to make therapy as effective as possible for you and your relationship:

  1. Start Early

Like most things in life, relationship counseling is better late than never, but it truly is better to start early. You can always use couples therapy to address your struggles at any point. However, when you start noticing signs of problems, seek out relationship counseling before they worsen. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your relationship will develop the detrimental four horsemen. It also gets increasingly difficult to resolve any differences and improve the relationship.

  1. Commit to the Time

Also, like most things in life, to get anything out of relationship counseling, you really must commit to the time (and the process). Couples counseling will not resolve every problem overnight, especially if those problems have been building up for a long time. So, it will likely take some time. This could be a few weeks or a few months—it all depends on your unique situation. Take your counselors’ recommendation for the time-frame and show up to appointments so you can get help.

  1. Do Your Homework

Relationship counseling takes more than just attending sessions with your therapist. If you only did that, you would likely struggle to take what you learn in therapy into your daily life. To help you take what you discuss and learn into your daily life, your therapist will likely sometimes ask you to complete homework. Now, this is different than the homework you did in school. Often, it involves practicing different newly learned skills and techniques, or having discussions about various topics.

  1. Focus on How You Can Change (Not Changing Your Partner)

In relationships, it can often be easier to see the faults in the other person and perhaps lose sight of the problems you bring to the relationship. This can lead many partners to enter relationship counseling with the idea that this will be the perfect setting for their significant other to see what they are doing wrong, and then make a bunch of changes that will fix the relationship. Ultimately, this stance will not be helpful. The reality is, usually both partners are contributing to the relationship problems in their own way. Each will need to take responsibility to see improvement.

  1. Go “All-In” On the Process

Finally, to really see success in relationship counseling, you need to fully invest yourself in the process. This means having the mindset that you want to work on your relationship and improve it. It also means being open and honest. Use the space of relationship counseling along with the unbiased support of the counselor, to discuss things you might otherwise hold back. Going “all-in” may take bravery and a bit of pushing yourself, but it will be worth it to improve your relationship.

Challenges of Relationship Counseling

Relationship counseling can sometimes be difficult. There can be some logistical barriers in trying to align your schedule, with your partner’s schedule, and the schedule of your chosen therapist. Then, of course, many people still feel a barrier from attending counseling due to a fear of others noticing. This may especially matter if you reside in a small town or have a high-profile relationship.

Beyond the logistical barriers, there can also be emotional barriers. Many people feel hesitant to attend counseling because it can seem scary to discuss your private life with a veritable stranger. The good news is that typically after a session or two, most people become very comfortable with their counselor. Other times, people fear that the process may not work. Here, the good news is that research shows relationship counseling can help most people to achieve the goal of improving their relationship.

There are some instances when relationship counseling may not and perhaps even should not be successful. In cases of abuse, relationship counseling will not necessarily be helpful or recommended. In these cases, the abuser will usually need individual counseling to improve their behaviors. There may also be other times when a counselor observes that one or both members of the couple actually needs individual therapy either concurrently with relationship counseling, or before couples therapy can occur.

At times, a couple may elect to use relationship counseling to facilitate the dissolution of a relationship when they have already decided that is the outcome they want. This can be helpful for divorcing parents, who want to maintain a working relationship, so they can effectively co-parent. This is not necessarily a challenge, but the outcome of counseling may appear different than is typically expected.

Relationship Counseling Online

Today, many people are choosing to seek relationship counseling through online platforms. This approach can offer many benefits over traditional face-to-face couples’ therapy.

For one thing, with online counseling, there is an increased level of confidentiality and privacy. If you are concerned about others (such as nosy neighbors or gossipy grandmothers) noticing that you are seeking counseling, then online relationship counseling can be the perfect solution. Since this approach can be done from the privacy of your home, no one will know you are seeking help.

Online counseling can also be much more convenient. If you and your partner have busy schedules, children to manage, and other barriers that might prevent you from attending weekly in-person sessions, then it may be much easier for you to regularly connect with a therapist online. You may be able to find a provider who can match your busy schedule and limited availability. This is also helpful if you live in a small town or rural area, where there are a limited number of or no qualified providers.

Thrive Talk

If you choose to seek therapy online, you want to choose a platform that will be convenient and confidential, with quality services. One option is Thrive Talk. This platform is simple to use. You simply set up an account and then get matched with a therapist. There are many different providers to choose from. Each is well-trained and appropriately licensed. After that, you can use the online platform to schedule an appointment at any time that is most convenient for you.

Click Here to Talk to a Therapist Now



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Forgive & Forget? How to Let Go of Your Past and Forgive Yourself


You keep reliving it even though it was years ago. You wake up from a dead sleep, play the whole thing in your head and cringe. Why did you say that? What were you thinking? You shouldn’t beat yourself up over the past, but if you do, you’re certainly not alone.

Four in five women suffer from low self-esteem, the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found. Low self-confidence can spill over into other areas of your life, causing nine out of ten women who suffer from it to avoid important activities such as socializing with friends when they don’t feel like they look good. This can breed anxiety and anger, making it difficult to forgive those perceived as contributing to your emotional distress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to break this cycle. Here are five ways to and let go of past baggage that’s holding you back.

How to Let Go of Your Past

Accept How Your Values Have Changed Since the Past

One of the hardest parts of learning to forgive can be forgiving yourself. Often, we blame ourselves for our past, making it hard to forgive ourselves, which affects our ability to forgive others. Americans generally find it easier to forgive others than themselves, with 53 percent willing to seek help forgiving others, while only 43 percent are willing to seek help forgiving themselves, according to Fetzer Institute research.

One thing that can make forgiving yourself easier is realizing that your values have changed since the incident that hurt you. You probably thought and behaved very differently at that time in your life than you do now. Say, for example, you did something dumb and regrettable after drinking too much at a college party. Rather than beating yourself up over the mistake that happened years ago, learn from it. Faced with the same choice now, you’d likely do things differently. Accept that you’re a different, more mature person now and you don’t need to continue feeling the same way you felt then. If you have trouble reaching this point on your own, consider talking to a therapist who can help you work through past issues and give you advice on how to let go of the past and be happy.

Realize You Did the Best You Could at the Time

Another reason you may be blaming yourself for the past is that you feel like it’s your fault you didn’t do things differently. This may be blaming yourself for things that were beyond your control. It’s easy to look back and say “I should have done this or I could have said that.” Realizing that the way you behaved in the past was shaped by your life experiences at that time can be helpful. Give yourself some credit, and some leeway to make mistakes and grow up. It’s not always a graceful process. You probably did the best you could with the experiences and resources you had available then, which may have been limited. You may be evaluating yourself based on what you know now, without taking into account that you didn’t know as much back then. Don’t beat yourself up over things you didn’t have the experience to handle.

Turn Your Biggest Regrets into a Positive To-Do List

Dwelling on regrets from your past — about things that were done to you or things that you did — can trap you in a cycle of anxiety and anger or other negative emotions. But you can transform these negatives into positive motivation by using your regrets as learning opportunities. Make a list of some things you wish would have turned out differently. Use this to generate a to-do list of goals you’d like to accomplish. For example:

  • If you wished you’d treated your past significant other better, make it a conscious priority with your next (or current) one.
  • If you lost your cool when your best friend told you about something you didn’t agree with, make a point of listening first, rather than talking, in all conversations.
  • If one bar tends to turn into four and a night of poor decisions, make a commitment to leave at a certain time. “One more drink” is almost always a bad idea.

Learn how to let go of the past and move forward. What a privilege to use your past experiences — good and bad — to make your future a more positive experience for you and those around you.

Accept That Your Life’s Experiences Have Made You Who You Are Today

To forgive past wrongs, it can help to accept that good or bad, your past experiences have made you who you are today. These experience have shaped both your positive and negative character traits. You can’t change the past, but you can move forward based on who you are now. By knowing how to let go of the past and live in the present,  you’ll learn to accept your present self and use your past learning experiences to continue improving yourself from this point on.

Cut Yourself Some Slack: Mistakes Happen

A perfectionist attitude can contribute to low self-confidence and anger toward ourselves and others. If we expect ourselves to be perfect, we can never live up to our own standards and will have a hard time forgiving ourselves. It will also make it hard for us to accept and forgive others. Reminding yourself occasionally that no one is perfect can help you cut yourself some slack and relieve some anxiety.

Forgiving yourself isn’t an easy feat. It requires acceptance you did your best with the information you had at the time. It involves breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and learn how to forgive and let go. It means you have to cut yourself some slack and let go of the pain you don’t need to carry around. It’s hard work but is what you must do to grow.

If you need additional help to work through these issues, consider scheduling an appointment with a licensed therapist. ThriveTalk is a teletherapy service that lets you schedule appointments from any location using your phone or a webcam. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact us here.


What Do You Do After Your Partner Cheats?


In the last 24 hours, you’ve gone from crying your eyes out in the closet to throwing your shoes across the room to blasting music to blaming yourself. It’s devastating to learn your partner has cheated on you, and those first few days can feel like you’re living a real-life nightmare.

After the tears and the shoes and the music have passed, you have some tough decisions to make: Should you stay? Should you try couples counseling? Is the relationship worth saving? Can you ever trust them again?

What to Do After Partner Cheats

Decide: Do You Want to Stay?

Quick, what’s your gut reaction to that question? Do you want to fight for your love, or do you know — deep down, even if it’s difficult to admit — that it’s over? Opinions will run to extremes on this one, but don’t let anyone else make this decision for you. This is the time to do some soul-searching. Use these questions to gauge how you feel:

  • Is your love strong? Is your partner normally a loving and supportive ally who lifts you up?
  • Could this be a one-time mistake, an aberration? Or is this another link in the chain of disappointments you’ve been experiencing with your partner?
  • Do they, in general, treat you well and make you feel valued?
  • Are you constantly unhappy with their behavior, this episode of cheating aside?
  • Is fear of being alone the main thing keeping you in the relationship?
  • Is the quality of your life better with your partner in it?

If you choose to discuss this with friends or family, understand that they will be rightfully protective of you. It is possible to repair a relationship after a partner has cheated, but first, you need to decide if it’s worth repairing. Dealing with a cheating spouse or partner can be hard, but you and only you can decide if you should stay.

If Yes, Communicate & Identify

If you want to stay in the relationship and try to re-establish trust, you’ll need to do two things:

1. Communicate openly about the infidelity.

2. Identify why it happened.

Even if it doesn’t feel good (and it won’t), don’t attempt to ignore this important part of the healing process and just “move on.” Both of you need to be willing to talk this through.

It’s OK, at this stage, to tell your partner how hurt and angry you are (what’s not OK: lashing out violently, destroying property and trashing your partner on social media). They need to know how their behavior affected you.

You are (understandably) angry at first. When you can explore these kinds of things without blowing up, ask your partner some pointed questions to learn more about the infidelity. For example:

  • Why did they cheat?
  • Why did they decide to tell you (if they indeed did)?
  • If they got caught: Would they have continued to cheat, if they hadn’t been discovered?
  • Are they just sorry they got caught?
  • How will things be different?

Ultimately, the goal is to learn why they cheated. Once you get to the heart of the matter, you’ll both better understand how to fix what went wrong. You’ll both need to be patient with the other during the “fix it” stage — yes, there’s been betrayal and hurt feelings, but if they truly seem apologetic and intent on changing and getting through it, you’ll have to work on forgiving them, too.

Consider Couples Counseling

If the pain of the infidelity is too great or too messy to navigate just the two of you, consider going to couples counseling. A licensed therapist is trained to guide this type of discussion in healthy, productive ways and will teach you couples counseling exercises or couples therapy techniques. Oftentimes, an objective third party is exactly who you need to help you communicate and process your feelings. People do heal from infidelity, and it is possible to forgive, grow and deepen your bond.

If you decide to seek couples counseling, your therapist will likely start the process by facilitating an honest evaluation of the relationship. Together, you are trying to establish:

  • What are the relationship’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Are there any major issues, such as codependency or any kind of abuse?
  • Why does each of you think the relationship should continue?

Cheating is often a sign of deeper troubles in the relationship, so your therapist is trying to get to the heart of the matter. Now, in the course of couples counseling, it’s not uncommon for the therapist to unearth individual issues that you and your partner should work on outside of couples counseling. You, for example, may be struggling with long-standing codependency issues that are independent of your partner; your partner may have, for example, anger issues or feelings of inadequacy that predate you as well. In this case, your therapist will recommend separate and simultaneous individual therapy.

If after couples counseling, the relationship still doesn’t work out — at least you know you took this step. Many times a couple will enter couples therapy and, through the process, decide to end the relationship. A therapist can be helpful in this case, too. They can help you both cope with the heartache of the breakup.

Know When to Say When

Sometimes, the damage is just too great, or a relationship has too many other problems to survive. Don’t live for months or years angry and victimized — and don’t make your partner pay for their mistake that long, either. If you can’t forgive and move on, it is best to end the relationship and part ways. Again, a licensed counselor can help you work through the pain of a breakup and onto a healthy and happy life.

After a partner cheats, it may seem like nothing will ever be OK again. It is possible to heal and forgive, but it takes work. If you’ve decided to stay in the relationship, commit to discovering why it happened and how to move forward.

Reach out to a professional counselor for help. ThriveTalk provides teletherapy services for busy people who need help getting through tough times, such as when a partner cheats. Couples counseling may be what you need to survive this period and emerge even stronger.


How to Cope With a Divorce


Everyone’s heard the “half of all marriages end in divorce” statistic. And like most things in life, the impact of this statistic is negligible until it happens to you.

Divorce is devastating, even under the best of circumstances. The sadness, stress, and emotions can be overwhelming at times. If you’re going through a painful divorce and it feels like you’re just not coping well, take heart — you can heal. We have some tips on how to cope with divorce as a man or a woman that should make today just a little bit better than yesterday.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

orange scissors cutting a marriage certificate refers to coping with divorce

To put it bluntly: It’s normal to be a mess. Divorce isn’t just the dissolution of a union; it’s saying goodbye to our dream of attaining our very own happily ever after. That feels terrible.

In fact, divorce requires a grieving process similar to what we go through when a loved one dies. It’s completely appropriate to feel a wide range of emotions — anger, sadness, fear, frustration, confusion — and there doesn’t need to be any rhyme or reason as to why you feel what at any given time.

The negative feelings will lessen over time, but in the meantime, give yourself permission to feel. Divorce is messy, but sometimes acknowledging that fact inherently makes it just a tiny bit easier. 

Go Easy on Yourself

You will likely be less productive than you normally are. That’s OK. You probably won’t feel like doing much of anything; that’s OK too. You don’t need to be superwoman. Treat yourself as you would treat your own sick best friend.

Granted, you can’t drop out of life completely, but it’s perfectly acceptable for your productivity and social life to take a downward turn while you go through a divorce. As long as you don’t stay there for months and months, this is to be expected.

Seek Support

This tip is vital: Lean on others for support. Talk, cry, express yourself — just don’t keep it bottled up inside. Allow your friends and family to be there for you. 

Sometimes we need more support than an understanding friend can give us. In these cases:

  • Look into divorce support groups. There are Facebook groups and other online forums as well as in-person meetups and church-based groups that will help you on how to cope with separation from your husband or wife. Start with a simple Google search to see what’s available and sounds good to you.
  • Seek professional counseling. If the pain of your divorce is too much or if you are having difficulty carrying out normal day-to-day activities, it may be time to seek divorce counseling. You could do therapy to help improve your life.

Care for Your Body and Mind

Stress can cause myriad health problems, including headaches, insomnia, exhaustion, overeating/weight gain, digestive problems and reduced immune function. In addition, stress can cause a host of ill emotional effects, including anxiety, depression, inability to focus, lack of motivation, irritability, and anger. No fun at all.

It’s essential you take care of your mind, body, and spirit during this time. Doing so will minimize the effects of stress, helping you to recover and move on. Now more than ever is the time to:

  • Eat well
  • Get regular exercise
  • Keep a regular sleeping schedule
  • Spend time in nature
  • Nurture your friendships
  • Make time to relax and do things you enjoy
  • Tend to your spirit through prayer/meditation (or whatever that means to you)

Avoid Power Struggles & Arguments with Your Ex

woman angry with her partner is on a restaurant and is dealing with divorce

One of the most important life lessons that will help you get through this difficult time is this: You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and how you react to them.

Stop trying to force your ex to see it your way, be sorry for something, apologize, etc. Don’t get involved in power struggles that are only about being “right.” Refuse to participate in any manipulative or malevolent behavior. In the end, you’ll be happier for it.

Reconnect with Your Prenuptial Hobbies

Did you use to love to restore old furniture? Brew your own beer? Hike? Blog? Now is the time to resurrect any interests and activities you may have let slip when you became part of a couple. Or, explore new ones.

Set Time Aside for Positive Thinking

This is a simple yet powerful tool for overcoming any challenge, especially when going through a divorce. Most of us know that positive thinking is — well, positive —  but we don’t make a conscious, concerted effort to do it.

Change that. Block off just five minutes a day and devote them to manifesting good things in your life. Write them down in an “I deserve a joyful life” journal. Learn about the power of positive affirmations, and then do them.

Divorce is one of the toughest things a person can go through but you will get through it and be OK. Take time to grieve the loss, stick close to your loved ones and be good to yourself.

Life After Divorce

Coping with divorce can be difficult, but in every challenge, there is always a positive aspect to it. Amidst a painful separation, positive things can happen after going through a divorce, it is a matter of how you can identify and embrace these great things.

Great Things That Can Happen After Dealing With Divorce

1. It gives you a second chance at life and more opportunity to do the things you always wanted to do.
2. You can find more peace as opposed to when you were a part of a married couple.
3. It is much easier for you to handle challenging situations and you become fearless.
4. You feel more independent and confident in yourself.
5. You will discover who your real friends are who have supported you through the tough time.
6. You will be happier compared to when you were still married, you will no longer fight change and life starts to get easier.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional counselor if you feel overwhelmed or that you can’t go on. ThriveTalk provides online therapy and can help you get through this difficult time. You’re worth it!