Unhappy Couples

Research shows that relationship problems are the single most common reason why anyone seeks any kind of professional help in the United States. This comes as little surprise, but it underscores how important relationships are to people and how difficult it can be for two people to keep their relationship in good shape.

The good news is that new studies show that therapies for couples can really work and have lasting effects. If you feel unhappy in your relationship now, we recommend that you contact a qualified therapist. A good starting place is the telephone book, or you might get a recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, or a leader of your church or synagogue.

The Relationship Institute does not offer any form of counseling or therapy, and the seminars we offer should not be considered as substitutes for therapy.

If you do begin looking for a couples therapist, we encourage you to be a ‘critical consumer’. Couples therapists differ widely in their approach and their experience, and it is crucial that you and your partner actively select a therapist that will fulfill your needs and goals.

NOTE: Our seminars are not appropriate for couples who are angry, hostile, aggressive, on the verge of separation or divorce, or unable to have productive conversations with one another. If this describes your relationship, it is important that you seek and receive personal care from a qualified couples therapist.

If you and your partner share underlying feelings of affection – even if you are going through a difficult time right now – then our seminars can help. Our mission at the Relationship Institute is to educate people about relationships so that they can apply this knowledge to their own relationship. We believe that most couples can benefit from the information we provide. In a real sense, with all couples, we aim to “get back to basics” when it comes to the principles that promote good relationships.

We aim to make your relationship simpler, not more complex. Oftentimes, couples who are struggling unknowingly make their situation more difficult. They read several books, seek out advice from several friends, or possibly attend a relationship seminar, all of which have them focusing on too many relationship factors all at once. This can be overwhelming – especially if only one partner is doing all the heavy lifting -- and can easily end in frustration and confusion.

How We Can Help

Our advice is: keep it simple. Get back to basics. There are better and worse ways of communicating, and you want to work hard to open up and get your relationship back to where it once was – or ahead to where you really want it to be. Partners in unhappy relationships work hard to protect themselves from further pain, and they often do that by withdrawing or by lashing out at the partner with blaming and threats. This will not improve your relationship, because it will only make your partner counter-attack or become defensive. And it overlooks the contributions that you yourself might be making to your relationship difficulties.

We work very hard to keep matters simple in our seminars. We have reviewed the large literature about how relationships work, and we have identified three key factors that help explain why some couples struggle. We call these factors the Relationship Triad, and they are:

  • Individual Differences: Who you and your partner are as unique individuals
  • Communication: The ways you and your partner talk to one another and give meaning to your communication
  • Stress: The challenges and stresses you and your partner encounter

If you are feeling disenchanted with your relationship now, chances are good that you either never really established a strong base of communication or you have fallen into some bad habits when talking with one another. The warm and gentle conversations that were once so common in your relationship have gradually diminished and have been replaced by short tempers and coldness.

Regardless of how you reached this point, we can share with you some key findings about the kinds of communication that can keep relationships strong, and the theory underlying why these kinds of communication are so powerful. Getting this worked out is pretty important, because it will prevent you from becoming defensive and closed off. Good communication also enables you to get back to appreciating one another as unique individuals, with strengths and weaknesses, and to working together as a team to manage the challenges that you face.

Our view is that your relationship has gone off track because of some combination of poor communication habits, a tendency to focus more on your partner’s personal flaws than his or her strengths and, in all likelihood, a host of chronic stresses – work, parenting, managing the house, your commute – that have gradually eroded the strong feelings you had for one another. Our seminars and exercises will give you some simple and practical new tools for getting your relationship to where you want it to be.

Learn more about how to reduce the negative momentum in your relationship and start redirecting your relationship by attending our Foundations Seminar or Advanced Topics Seminars. If you prefer a more personalized experience, we recommend our new Premium Couples Workshop.

"It was nice knowing that the information I received at the seminar was based on decades of research. The case studies were really interesting."

"I never thought about the many ways my relationship influenced my life."

"I wish I had come to this years ago when my husband and I were still newlyweds."

"We spent months planning our wedding, but no time thinking about our relationship. This seminar helped us figure out a plan for our future."

"It was the best money we ever spent on us."

"I thought it was going to be a big therapy session. It was actually entertaining and the science behind the advice made me see the value in being there."