STREET TALK

Carolyn Patton, marriage counselor

themselves

A willingness to accept and understand the other person, as well as one's self. It's important to have shared goals, shared dreams, to be able to negotiate differences. In fact, I think being able to negotiate differences is primary, and that's what most people don't know how to do.

someone

Q:  What drives the average couple to come see you?

People usually come in because they're experiencing difficulties in communication. Typically the issues are financial issues, parenting issues, sexual issues, just sort of daily living kinds of issues, like who takes out the garbage, who washes the dishes, who looks after the kids. Some people may have issues regarding extended family or how they spend time together, as a family and individually. Many times the issues have gotten so polarized that it's very difficult for each of the parties to begin to understand the other's position, to work it out. People often don't come in until it's an obvious problem.

 

Q:  How might a couple start solving their marital problems?

Begin recognizing how they are talking to each other; are they talking from that part of themselves that really wants to work out the issues and the part of them that really wants the marriage to work? Or are they talking from parts of themselves that are just argumentative and not really understanding or listening to the viewpoints of the other? I recommend that people begin doing some reading, realizing that there's a whole body of literature on marriage that most people don't even know about. There's excellent research on communication styles that cause problems, and there's a lot they can do to just be more mindful on how they do communicate.

 

Q:  What are the ingredients of a good marriage?

A willingness to accept and understand the other person, as well as one's self. It's important to have shared goals, shared dreams, to be able to negotiate differences. In fact, I think being able to negotiate differences is primary, and that's what most people don't know how to do.

 

Q:  What should someone look for in a good marriage counselor?

I think first and foremost, people should look for someone they think they can work with, someone they feel is accepting, who can step back and analyze the problem and help them understand it, someone they feel comfortable with.

Is it emotionally exhausting for you at the end of the day to deal with others' problems?

I take pretty good care of myself. It could be a problem if I allowed that to happen, but we're trained pretty much to let the emotional part be that of the client and to separate our own emotions from that.

 

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