Pre-Covid, many of my couples came in crying out that I was their last hope. Some couples complained that they spent one hour at couples’ therapy for three weeks in a row and got nothing out of it; and they paid between $250.00-$400.00 per session and got nothing out of it. Another couple actually told me: “after being here for one hour, we have learned much more than we learned during our last three sessions with our last couples’ therapist”.
Pre-Covid, my sessions lasted a maximum of eight hours. Now, as I said before, the maximum hours spent on Zoom together is six hours. My couples walked out of my office feeling understood, they left with heaps of hope and a willingness to “fake it until they make it”, after I made them understand that in order to save their relationship they must divorce their last relationship and not each other. They begin to understand that we have to reinvent a new relationship that is based on making a sincere commitment to journey through life as loving partners who have developed a meaningful and fulfilling relationship/marriage that takes on a mutual meaning for committed partners. They have this one and only way to save their relationship/marriage. Reinventing their marriage/relationship takes hard work, commitment, and choosing to make each other number one. We are not solely looking to be happy and/or to be in a constant flux of love, because love and happiness may wax and wane throughout the years. Commitment and trust need to be constant if you want to maintain a rich relationship that lasts an entire lifetime.
I have a commitment to excellence. I am big on returning phone calls when potential couple/patients leave a voicemail stating their name, number and the latest time they are willing to accept a call back. I also answer that phone when I am available. I check my voicemail throughout my day. I read my texts and emails after my last session, and when it is too late to respond. I will not risk interfering with their sleep hygiene. Once again, I get back soonest to patients who call me on (917) 270-9595 and are patient enough to leave their message after the beep.
Due to Covid 19, “My Marriage/Couples Marathon” takes place on Zoom. I offer a maximum of six hours. You only pay for the hours you use; but there is a minimum of two hours. I lose out because I always block off 6 hours for every couple. I promise a maximum of six hours and that amount of time stays available.
Pre-Covid and during Covid I still offer a mandatory free phone consultation that takes five to fifteen minutes and sometimes more. Call it woman’s intuition or intuition of a tuned in marriage/couple/individual therapist, but I can tell which couples are a candidate for “My Marriage/Couples Marathon” or my individual sessions, after listening to them explain why they are seeking therapy at this time. I get to ask some pertinent questions and if I believe we are a good match and can get them to a better place, then we go on to discuss my fee for a session. I also explain why they are not a good match for “My Marriage Marathon” and give alternative options when they are available.
Pre-Covid, “My Marriage Marathon” taught couples how to navigate through their relationships/marriages in an emotionally intelligent way so they no longer went off course and over-reacted by turning molehills into mountains. I designed a unique treatment plan for each couple. Some came in anxious due to problems about conceiving and others were worry warts because their bio-clocks were running out. Anxious women worried why they cannot meet their match (their other half right now) and mentioned they were tired of the dating game. “Poor picking” became a negative repetitive pattern and it might have dated back to a traumatic past.
We unraveled why patients are “poor pickers” and were unable to find a decent other half with whom they can share meaningful moments and raise a family. Finding their soul mate and having access to that magical moment, when they meet the perfect person, does not come easy to many. Many people came to therapy to vent about these kinds of disappointments because they felt scared about their inability to find their other half. Some of my patients thought about whether they were to blame or talked about coming off too lame. Other patients felt they either lacked the right emotions to attract the right match for themselves or could not emote enough, while others wanted to know why they wore their emotions on their sleeve. I want everyone reading this to know that life is difficult for everyone. Once people internalize that fact, life ceases to be so difficult. That reality makes us lower our expectations.
Now that Covid is here, I had to change the format of “My Marriage Marathon” I lowered the price and the maximum number of hours is six hours and not eight. I was asked to do virtual therapy many times Pre-Covid and I never consented to do it because I felt it worked better in person. I have since changed my mind. I bond extremely well with my couples and individual patients using Zoom or FaceTime. Due to Covid and virtual therapy sessions I now take PayPal after the session and the couple pays by the hour. I block off many hours so we can follow the format of “My Marriage Marathon, but I allow my couple to end the session when they want.
Many times couples come to therapy often too late. I can still save the marriage by reinventing it, but it would have been so much easier if they came for Premarital Counseling. Had these couples sought out therapy due to an infidelity or had I discovered a substance abuse issue that was responsible for their poor judgment, then their marriage/relationship would not now be hanging on a thread. We lose so much valuable time when one is threatening divorce because one or both are engaging in “a dance of anger”. This reciprocal dance is threatening the existence of their marriage when they first come in. My job is so much harder. Bad marriages are like Cancer, the sooner you address the issues, the better chance you have of surviving a marriage gone bad.
In order to accept a couple and give them hope in regard their many ruptures, I first listen to why they are seeking therapy. I then ask a few pertinent questions and decide if I can get this couple to a better place. I do the same when working with individuals. I also need to know that both partners desperately want to save their marriage. I must make sure they are both committed to this relationship and are “in it to win it” and plan on “putting the pedal to the metal”. I do not want them to revert to old negative repetitive patterns, but without therapy many people do not know what roads to take so their family life remains, calm, cool and collected. People marrying other people must understand how they were parented. They need to be honest about where their parents failed them in order to settle down and have good family values. How can we have sound family values if we are damaged goods from our dysfunctional family of origin? Designing our family of origin is the next important phase/stage of our lives. I point out why I consider them to be collateral damage/damaged goods. Once I sum it all up and fit the last piece into the puzzle, they need to take responsibility for the breakdown of their marriage/relationship and work together so that the betrayed partner no longer seeks separation or divorce.
The next part of “My Marriage Marathon” was to address grievances from the past and both couples own and take responsibility for hurting their respective partners. Heartfelt apologies are made at this point of “My Marriage Marathon”; and we sum it all up by explaining once again, how their past knew no bounds and made them express themselves in a miserable manner that is unacceptable. Most couples get to understand and accept why their partner’s past is messing up their present, and genuine forgiveness replaces grudges and anger.
Losing a loved one through death or a divorce is extremely painful. People get frustrated trying to meet their other half. People who are grieving also find that I am very compassionate and authentic and capable of feeling a load of empathy for their loss. I also work with people who just want to vent with an unbiased and judgment free professional.
Today, “My Marriage Marathon” that I created before the Corona Virus lasted at least two hours and most couples stayed four, five, six and some even spent seven and eight hours with me in my office. All couples are each given their own biopsychosocial in front of their partner and there is full disclosure about who they were as a young child and what they have been through while growing up in their family of origin. I point out the trauma that they were exposed to and which may be causing them problems today. I explain the root of their problems and why these traumas are causing them interpersonal problems with their current partner. I explain why there past is negatively impacting on their present and causing stress in their relationship/marriage.
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