Happy couple embracing and laughing on the beachkh - pp - gay coupleCouples Counseling

Frustrations in Your Relationship Can Be Scary and Painful

Maybe you are worried because you aren't as happy in your relationship as  you would like to be.

Maybe you are bored, scared, unsure, worried, or annoyed.

Maybe you're confused on whether "you" are the problem, or may "she" or "he" is.  Or maybe the problem is, you don't know where or even what the problem is.

You could be worried about money and making a home domestically with the chores and stress of everyday life.

You could be frustrated that your sex life is not what you know you really want it to be.

Maybe you love your partner, but you're not that sexually satisfied with her/him.

Maybe there is a "third" involved — perhaps a person, but also perhaps an addiction, like alcohol or one of the party drugs, or like gambling, sex, shopping, or another behavioral addiction.

Or maybe your partner just has some really bad habits.

Maybe there is someone else in your life who distracts you from the partner you "should" be paying attention to.

Maybe it's not that dramatic, but you know that you and your partner could be happier, "if only" you two were functioning better in one or more areas of your life together — communication, money, "balance", sex, chores, trust, jealousy, time, the in-laws, the pets, the friends, the house.

Couples Counseling Can Help

We help straight and gay couples form a more satisfying relationship by learning how to communicate better with each other, reducing the frequency or intensity of arguments and that feeling that you're "always fighting."  The treatment goals of couples we frequently see include having more or better sex; overcoming any "sexual stagnation" that can happen with couples who have been together for a while;  designing how it might work to have a satisfying (and yet still emotionally and physically safe) open relationship (for an article on this, click here); maintaining a monogamous relationship without resentments; coping with the stress of how a heavy work schedule impacts a relationship; dealing with an income disparity between partners; living with a partner who has experienced trauma or has PTSD; and learning to cope with other types of stress that can impact a relationship.

We teach you how to make your relationship work on 4 levels: 1) emotionally; 2) physically (from casual touch/affection, to the quality of your sex life); 3) domestically (just working out how to live under the same roof); and a special category we call 4) "managing the other" — this can be managing a third party's intervention in your relationship (that provokes jealousy), or coping with an intrusion (such as a demanding job or boss), anything that undermines or interferes with the daily peace-of-mind in your relationship. 

Over all our years in practice, we have helped hundreds of couples stay together, work things out, and be happier.  Occasionally, we have had to help them break up amicably, but even then, the partners are still happier.  It all depends on the circumstances of the work that we do.

We help couples improve the "skills of relationship", which include commitment, communication, and compromise, striving to improve "regard" for your partner and mutual respect.  We help you both improve the ability to generate options to avoid stalemates and reach  compromises.  By working with so many couples over the years, we've developed some observations about what these successful, happy couples in satisfying relationships have in common.  Some of these findings might surprise you; we hope they inspire you.

We work together to see what needs to be done to make the burdens that you feel become lighter.  We use exercises to make you think and feel in ways that shed new light on your options.

All of our staff have had extensive training in the theory and practice of couples counseling, for all kinds of couples.

Plus, currently all of our clinical staff are in happy and satisfying relationships, so we have professional AND personal experience on what makes a happy relationship, at least for each of us, and for many in our circle of friends, which include many long-term couples.  And we have the collective of experience of working with hundreds of couples in practice, some of us for over 22 years, and more examples from friends and colleagues.  Those are all resources that can be put to work to help YOUR relationship improve, even if  you think your challenges are "unique".

But Maybe You Still Have Questions or Concerns…

What if my partner doesn't want to come see you?

When one partner wants couples counseling and the partner doesn't, it can be frustrating.  You have to look at why they are resisting.  Perhaps they are afraid that looking at the problems will make them worse — which is not true, but it's a common fear.  Looking at the problem(s), identifying and describing them, can be the first step toward solving them.  Maybe they are afraid that the therapist will "take sides" and "gang up" against them.  This isn't really the way couples therapy works; it's not about my judging who is at fault and then punishing them.  When we work with individuals, the person is our client.  When we work with couples, the relationship itself is our client".  We help both partners identify ways to make the relationship stronger, healthier, more enduring, and more satisfying for both partners.  But, if only one partner wants to come in, we can still work together in individual therapy that will help one partner learn skills (particularly in communication and identifying/suggesting compromises) that can improve the health of the relationship.  Ideally, both partners will see the benefit of working on the relationship together.

We're not sure if we can afford it.

Couples counseling needs to be seen as an investment in the long-term health and happiness of the relationship.  Investing the time, emotional/mental energy, and money now can help you learn the skills of Commtiment, Communication, and Compromise now to make your relationship thrive in the long term in four ways:  1) emotionally; 2) physically (including casual affection and the health/satisfaction of your sex life); 3) domestically (learning to live together under the same roof without driving each other crazy); and 4) "managing the other" (which is how to address issues of jealousy, stressful work lives, intrusive parents, neighbors, children, or friends).  You spend money as a couple on lots of other things you need and enjoy; you need to make the health of your relationship just as big a priority as recreational things.  Investing in couples therapy helps you evolve the relationship to the next level of satisfaction.  The skills you learn and the benefits of couples therapy endure long after the actual experience of the treatment is over.

Why should we choose you over other local male therapists who do this work?

Because we offer certain things no other therapist in the Los Angeles area currently can claim.  Some of our staff include:

  • Complete privacy (with some exceptions for extreme legal situations, such as suicidality, which we can discuss — unlike the “HMO network insurance therapists”, who must report your diagnosis and clinical progress to an insurance company “care manager” to "justify" their paying for further sessions)
  • Graduate of rigorous, major academic institutions, including UCLA, USC, and other major universities
  • Ken Howard, LCSW, for example, our Executive Director, is married and in a long-term, sero-discordant, same-sex relationship for over 12 years, and experience with dating/relationship rewards and challenges in the gay community of Los Angeles/West Hollywood for many years before that
  • Staff is active in the same community in which we work, drawing from the example of many friends in successful, long-term relationships
  • Trained in the Imago (Hendrix) and Gottman Couples Counseling techniques, among others
  • Ken Howard, LCSW is currently on the faculty of the graduate USC School of Social Work (teaching advanced courses in Clinical Practice)

Next Steps

Feel free to call for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.  You can tell us about your situation, and ask questions about our services.  If you would like an appointment for couples counseling, talk to your partner about how she/he would feel about doing it.  Ask what their schedule is like, and compare it to yours.  Talk about how you might handle the fee — do you pay it out of your household account, split it equally, or divide it proportionately according each of your incomes?  Then email Ken@menslifeskillscenter.com, or call 310-726-4357.  We can usually schedule you within a few days of your call, or let you know the next available appointment.  We look forward to helping you both.