How to know if you need a marriage makeover

Author and psychologist Dr. Joshua Coleman explains why couples might need a "marriage makeover"
Relationship Advice | How to know if you need a marriage makeover
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How to know if you need a marriage makeover

So some people ask me, "Well maybe I need a marriage makeover," and they want to know what that is because they've seen my book. Well, a lot of people get to the point in their marriage where the marriage is really stale, In particular, you've been married a long time, maybe your kids are grown, maybe their kids are sucking the life out of their marriage because all the energy is going to the marriage and they just feel really bored with their partner. They feel very unenthusiastic. They're feeling like, "God, maybe I should be married to somebody else. Maybe I'd be a lot happier with somebody else. I can't stand how much we fight." I mean all those things are probably a good indication that you probably need to get into some kind of couples therapy. Overall, people wait way too long to get into couples therapy. Six years is the average and that's typically too long. You can wait until your marriage has a hole in the centre of it and beyond resuscitation. I often see people in my practice that will come in and, more typically, the husband being dragged in by the wife and he's willing to work now because she's basically out the door. And at that point it may well be too late. You can get to the point where your marriage is beyond resuscitation, so you don't want to wait that long. If you're thinking about divorce you need to get yourselves into couples therapy. So a marriage makeover is basically looking at how you communicate, looking at your sex life, looking at how you parent if you have children, how do you handle money, how do you handle housekeeping, looking at all the various components that make a marriage and all these things that commonly create marriage. Marital researcher, John Gotttman, found that 60% or more of the conflict that couples have, they'll have over the whole course of their marriage, then they'll never go away. When you hear that statistic it seems kind of scary but when you look more closely at it, it make sense. Very few couples are exactly matched in terms of sex life, in terms of how they parent, in terms of their ideals about house cleaning, in terms of their relationship with in-laws, in terms of how much money they want to spend, how much they want to go towards savings versus travel, how much time they want to spend socializing. So all of these things will probably always be different between you and your partner. You're not going to be able to solve every conflict. What you can do is learn to communicate about that, understand and empathize with your partner's core values so they feel really understood by you and they feel motivated to make the small changes and the small accommodations that make a huge difference in a marriage.

Author and psychologist Dr. Joshua Coleman explains why couples might need a "marriage makeover"


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Joshua Coleman, PhD

Author & Psychologist

Dr. Coleman is a psychologist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and Co-Chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-partisan organization composed of leading sociologists, historians, psychologists and demographers dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. He has lectured at Harvard University and The University of California at Berkeley and blogs on parent-adult child relationships for the U.C. Berkeley publication, Greater Good Magazine, the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

Dr. Coleman is frequently contacted by the media for opinions and commentary about changes in the American family. He has been a frequent guest on the Today Show, NPR, and The BBC, and has also been featured on Sesame Street, 20/20, Good Morning America, PBS, AARP,  America Online Coaches,  and numerous news programs for FOX, ABC, CNN, and NBC television. His advice appears often in The New York Times, The Times of London, Fortune, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, Slate, Psychology Today, U.S. World and News Report, Parenting Magazine, The Baltimore Sun and many others.

He has served on the clinical faculties of The University of California at San Francisco, The Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology, and the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group. He is the author of numerous articles and chapters and has written four books:  When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along (HarperCollins) The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony (St. Martin's Press); The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework (St. Martin's Press); and Married with Twins: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Marital Harmony. His books have been translated into Chinese, Croatian, and Korean, and are also available in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. He is formerly a contributing editor to Twins Magazine.

 Dr. Coleman is a sought-after public speaker on topics related to the family. He is also co-editor, along with historian Stephanie Coontz of the yearly online volume, Unconventional Wisdom: News You Can Use, a compendium of noteworthy research on the contemporary family, gender, sexuality, poverty, and work-family issues.  He runs a popular webinar series for estranged parents and a free newsletter for parents, The Coleman Report.

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