Relationship Counseling: Some Rules of the Game

Navigating the contours of relationship issues can be quite difficult. Whereby in an individual’s session we have one complicated persona to process, in a relationship counseling session we have two individuals who not only bring their unique set of issues to the table, but also arrive in a fairly defensive position fueled by anger and disappointment with their partner.


There are a few important points that I like to make during our initial session in order to begin this difficult process. First, I remind the couple at hand that their job isn’t necessarily to agree with one’s partner (obviously they don’t or we wouldn’t be sitting here in the first place,) but the job is to hear their partner. We must begin with the concept that our partner feels they are either aggrieved or at least not being heard and it is our job to make sure that we actually hear what our partner is saying even if we don’t agree with them on a number of the issues. The value of knowing that our significant other acknowledges our feelings gives validity to the endeavor that lies ahead.


Secondly, we must remember why we are here at this relationship counseling session to begin with. It cannot be a battle of convincing the other that they are wrong and only we are right. It must be about listening and finding a common ground for moving forward.


Finally I remind each couple who comes to my office that I am not here to save their marriage/relationship but rather that I am here to help the two of them find their truth. Sometimes I get a puzzled look with that statement but as the work progresses they come to realize that we are here for the two of them and not for the concept of a relationship which cannot exist unless the couple does their work to understand what their individual needs are and that of their partner as well. Only then can the possibility of a truly healthy relationship come to fruition.


I have 20 years of experience dealing with couples, both heterosexual and gay and have been vetted by as an expert in the field. I have also contributed to two books on relationships that are listed in my biography. For more info check out my website


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A Therapist's Blog

My name is Howard Rossen, and I am a Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist on the Upper West Side in New York City. I offer compassionate care to help enhance your mental health. As a therapist, I can help you work through many issues of concern.

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