I was curious about other organizations doing online marriage counseling so I did a search online. Surprisingly, there are number of groups out there. That’s really wonderful, especially during the pandemic. In my couples’ counseling practice I am witnessing quite a few marriages stressing to the max with lock downs. A couple will call and say, “Greg, we can’t make it Sedona, can you recommend marriage counseling near me?” Even though I have fairly big network of colleagues, I don’t always have someone in their area and that’s when I recommend online marriage counseling.
Here at Sedona Sacred Journeys, we have been offering couples retreats for 18 years and online marriage counseling for 11 years. I utilize a variety of my online programs: Spiritual Warrior/Couples Program, Freedom From Codependency and Spiritual Awakening Tutorials. This is in conjunction with weekly calls/zoom. The program is short-term; it can be a month and no more than three months.
I find relationship counseling can have great results when approaching issues from a multi-dimensional learning dynamic. To include: video, podcasts, structured assignments, phone support. We all have different ways of learning and its important to recognize this. And there is also an accountability factor by having to report their weekly assignment to me personally or the private group. Reading other members reports on the same assignment you are doing can be very inspiring and educational. This is powerful aspect I didn’t anticipate.
My approach is very different than most online marriage counseling and mirrors what I do on Couples Retreats here in Sedona. I am more of a teacher than a counselor in that I focus on teaching principles to couples as opposed to drilling into the past. Many couples are exhausted with that approach and the classic therapy session.
1. Low Mood Stop/ Heart-to Heart Go
This principle is straightforward: When one or both of you are in a low mood — Stop! Under no circumstances engage one another. Take a break and wait for the heart-to-heart place to return. It always will. Your wisdom is innate, it’s always inside you. In that place you naturally communicate with kindness, love, understanding and work together. This choice can instantly change your relationship back to those beautiful feelings for each other.
2. Separate Realties
Couples discover in a deeper and more accepting way how their partner is in a separate reality and that’s okay! And also, how this releases you from taking everything so personally.
3. Deep Listening
This is the most popular tutorial online and on retreat. My mission is to make listening and acknowledging your partner organic as opposed to turning into a technique which i see a lot of couples counselor do –that can get old very quickly.
Couples discover how forgiveness is really natural to you when you quiet down and let go of your negative thoughts, forgiveness will flow up without effort
5. Taking Responsibility
Couples discover how they are each responsible for their own feelings. How they are one hundred percent responsible for how they experience their partner. With this powerful insight all “blame” is released!
6. Giving Meaning…
Couples discover when they are “giving meaning” to what their partners are doing or not doing. It’s all happening in their head! They learn how not to take their negative thinking seriously and how when that thinking changes their natural wisdom will flow back up.
We could say these six principles are a schematic. Lean on them and you will see changes very quickly in your marriage. Instead of focusing on specific issues try to see how one of the “principles” might apply. I want to encourage all couples to get a deeper insight about these principles, an AHHAA moment. When you do you will never be the same person. So whether it’s online couples counseling or in person my strongest recommendation is to find a counselor who is not turning the session into a fighting match.
Gregory Drambour is considered one of the top couples counselors in North America. He offers online marriage counseling and couples retreats in Sedona. He is the author of three books on practical spiritualty.
Please check out other Blog Posts on Relationships
Interviewer: Unhappy marriages seem to be the norm now. Are they any suggestions for couples that you feel would be helpful? I know you have spent 30 years counseling couples.
Greg: If they can get more aware of when they’re giving meaning to what their partner is doing or not doing.
Interviewer: What would be an example of that?
Greg: One partner says, “They’re disrespecting me.” That’s the meaning you are giving what your partner did. Then you get the matching feeling of anger and then you get a drama and an unhappy marriage.
Interviewer: How can they catch themselves when they are doing that?
Greg: Using your feelings as a resource. If you get angry, that’s an alert you gave meaning to what they did. Then you want to question your perceptive: “Is there any other way I can look at what they did?” Or you can step back from those angry thoughts and create some space for wisdom to flow in and create some understanding.
Interviewer: We are essentially making the meaning up?
Greg: More than you can imagine. When you’re in a marriage you are not really in a relationship with that person – you are in a relationship with your thoughts about that person. Another way of saying that is, whatever “meaning” you give that person’s actions or non-actions is in fact the relationship. Literally!
Interviewer: That’ wild but I get it!
Greg: If you can get more aware of when you are making that “meaning” up you will avoid an unhappy marriage. It’s totally innocent. People feel they’re right when they think, “they’re trying to piss me off!” They are convinced that’s true. But we are making it all up in our head!
Interviewer: When you work with couples in an unhappy marriage, do they hear this and change?
Greg: A majority do because its just make sense to them. Teaching them this truth is so much more productive and impactful than diving into all the details of a 20 year marriage. At least that’s been my experience on the ground for all these years.
Interviewer: It almost sounds like your a relationship coach.
Greg: Sure, why not!
Interviewer: Is there a specific way you help them with getting of aware of this?
Greg: I encourage them to use their negative feelings to alert them that they are probably “giving meaning” to what their partner just did. For example if you feel “anger” and then say: “Well, it’s obvious you don’t care about me!” Question that perspective because you’re “angry.” Stop speaking from it or throwing up over your partner with it!
Interviewer: Then how do they get settled down?
Greg: Take a breath, step back, create some space. Allow your innate wisdom to flow up some helpful thinking. Your wisdom is always there to help. Wisdom loves space.
Interviewer: Your saying to use anger as way to know you’re not seeing clearly?
Greg: That is exactly right. When you’re angry, you’re dumb! Time to take a nap!
Interviewer: What would be immediately helpful in any marriage? Even if they don’t have major relationship problems?
Greg: To understand that you and your partner are going to be in separate realities sometimes and it’s okay. If folks do that, you will see more healthy marriages in the long term.
Interviewer: Meaning you are going to see things differently?
Greg: Yes. And you don’t want to give this meaning. It doesn’t mean you aren’t suppose to be together or their problems in your marriage. Being in separate realities is going to be part of any relationship and accepting that can be powerful and create a happy marriage.
Interviewer: How does a couple navigate through those moments, when they have a rough patch?
Greg: Instead of being in what I call, “disagreement-listening” or “defensive-listening” you want to get curious about why your partner’s perception makes sense to them. Can you see the thread of truth or agreement in what they are saying, can you find more information about their perspective. In short, letting go of ego in your listening. Here is an example:
Wife: Sweetie, I don’t feel you are acknowledging me.
Husband: But I don’t feel I am acknowledging you.
Me: Brother, you just didn’t acknowledge that she doesn’t feel acknowledged!
Greg: This couple is in separate realities. She doesn’t feel acknowledged but he feels he is acknowledging her.
Interviewer: What’s the best move for him when his wife says that?
Greg: To get curious why she feels that way. No one is right or wrong. We experience our partner through our thinking. And for her to get curious why he feels that he is acknowledging her. We all have different thinking and thus different realities – it’s NOT personal!
Interviewer: I’m getting this for my own marriage!
Greg: Cool! Blaming your partner for your feelings is a strategy for an unhappy marriage. Here is what’s possible when we can respect our partner’s point of view even though it’s the opposite of ours – a deep rich feeling of generosity of spirit and understanding – we could say this represents maturity.
Interviewer: What about the classic things that traditional couple counselors talk about like, date night, holding hands, spending time together, increasing physical affection not just sex?
Greg: I think they are all good ideas but the counselors that teach those things have a very low success rate from what I understand. So of course you have to ask why those suggestions aren’t working.
Interviewer: Why do you think?
Greg: I think a lot of couples are looking for something tangible “to do” to fix the problem and all those suggestions are concrete — if you know what I mean.
Interviewer: Yes, it gives them something to do.
Greg: I think its more impactful to teach them “how” they experience each other which is through their own thinking. They are one hundred percent responsible for how they experience their partner. If a couple gets even a small insight about that, they are going to have a beautiful marriage.
Gregory Drambour is the owner of Sedona Sacred Journeys and considered one of the top Couples Counselors in North America. He is the author of three books on practical spirituality.
Check out my blog post: Online Marriage Counseling
*My columns and blog are not part of Hearst Digital or Hearst Digital Media. Or do I ever include links to retailer sites on my blog. How Icky!
*Or do I participate in affiliate marketing programs for anything I recommend. Or receive commissions on editorially chosen content or editorially chosen products purchased. I am just here sharing my experience working with a lot of brave folks.
Client: Greg, I can’t let go of them, it’s been 9 months now. What do I do? How do you let go of someone you love?
Greg: Do you really think you want to let go?
Client: I want to move on. I am so tired of trying to get over them. I’ve tried everything.
Greg: Maybe that’s the block? You’re trying too hard.
Client: Please explain.
Greg: I know you know that you have a very powerful spiritual intelligence inside which is always present. (client nods). The word “intelligence” means it’s a management system, it has intelligence. When given a chance, it will manage you to acceptance and letting go of them with absolutely no effort on your part. If you let go of trying to figure out how to let go of them! Create a little space for the Intelligence to flow up and help.
Client: That makes sense. There has been no greater challenge for me that letting go someone you love. If I can get this, it will really free me. Maybe free me to love without fear.
This was a big insight for me on my personal journey many years ago. “Spiritual Intelligence” was literal! It’s a management system and will guide you back to nice feelings when you get out of its way. We are blocking its help in many ways – one would be trying to hard – we do that because we are suffering. Makes perfect sense. But when sadness flows up about that lost relationship we want to remember it’s coming from our own thoughts about that relationship.
Move away from those thoughts for a moment! Don’t let them suck you in – I know it feels “warm” there in some strange way – for a moment we are “back in” the relationship. You all know what I mean! In that moment you have moved into some habit thinking – that’s all. See it like that and point yourself in a nice direction – makes no difference what is it. Go to Denny’s and have some French toast! Go to the juice bar, for a walk. Have faith that the gift you were born with will come and guide you back to some peace – always. Put more energy into believing in that gift than being sad. Cool!?
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