Marriage and Family Counseling

Even though we’ve all heard that communication is the key to a happy marriage, communication is not enough. At best, active listening and structured problem solving techniques help for a short period and then prior problems begin to return. Active listening and problem solving, as important as they are, do not make up the core set of behaviors couples really need to sustain happy, stable marriages.

The core of happy, stable marriages consists of a deep friendship rooted in admiration and feelings of affection for each other. These feelings help couples over the rough times in their relationship. It’s as if they will not let the disagreements or issues interfere with their feelings for each other.

Effective counseling

Effective marriage and family counseling enables couples to develop the skills needed to communicate in different ways that cause them to turn toward each other rather than away. Couples learn to appreciate the strengths and moderate the weaknesses they perceive in each other. They learn to identify those problems that will persist and discover ways to talk about the difficulties so that they don’t escalate into irrational arguments.

According to researcher Dr. John Gottman, couples should learn to avoid the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”: Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling (withdrawing from communication).  These behaviors are especially corrosive to marriage and predict divorce.

By learning and using skills that enhance feelings of affection and appreciation and by learning to avoid the corrosive elements in communication, couples are equipped to handle the difficulties and disagreements that come into all relationships. The skills needed to accomplish this goal are understandable, and with guidance and support, many couples can successfully enhance and even save their marriages.

Family Meetings


Share your marriage and family concerns with us. Visit Behavioral Sciences of Alabama. Call 256.883.3231 or fill out our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation with us. We see patients from Madison County, AL (Huntsville, Madison), Limestone County, AL (Decatur, Athens), and Guntersville, AL.