Experts/Maryland (MD)/Bethesda/ProConnect 19735

ProConnect 19735, Organization

National Institute Of Relationship Enhancement - Organization - Bethesda, MD


4400 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
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Skills for a Lifetime of Love


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Success Stories

Getting Past the Fear of Conflict

Ben and Stacy had been married for less than a year. They were struggling with conflict – conflict that made them question whether they had made the right choice to marry. They were both worried and anxious about their future together. What if their conflicts only got worse? What kind of life would this mean between them? How could they bring children into this situation?

Ben and Stacy didn’t know how to manage conflict effectively and in a manner that would allow them to experience working together successfully as a team. Family experiences contributed to their individual patterns of handling conflict, which typically resulted in intense arguments and a profound sense of disconnection. They needed to learn new, more effective patterns of handling conflict.

In the process of getting to know each of them and their relationship, I found out that they had no premarital preparation and had had a very short courtship. They were in their mid to late 20s and were members of a faith community which guided them through their courtship, engagement and marriage. However, the guidance did not include training in relationship skills that would help them with both the short-term preparation for marriage as well as the longer term adjustments necessary for a satisfying, life-long marriage.

Following the Relationship Enhancement® skills training approach used at National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® and its Center for Couples, Families and Children, we first worked on interrupting Ben and Stacy’s destructive patterns of conflict. They learned how to stop their negative conflict patterns and how to take a time-out to regain their composure. Ben and Stacy then learned how to talk about their issues in a skillful and respectful manner that allowed them to stay engaged with each other so that they could address and resolve their issues in a more cooperative manner. This involved learning how to express themselves more fully to each other and how to really listen so that they would understand each other at a deeper level.

Ben and Stacy immediately found that they had fewer out-of-control conflicts and they felt more connected and optimistic about their future. They also found that they didn’t have as many differences as they thought and the ones they did have could be worked through together in a spirit of cooperation to find solutions that could work for both of them and their relationship.

Learning to manage their emotions and conflicts more effectively and learning how to stay connected while dealing with their differences were essential to re-establishing the positive outlook Ben and Stacy had when they married. They left NIRE’s Center for Couples, Families and Children with renewed hope for their future and working on their next project – buying a house and then filling it with children!

Recovery from Infidelity

Tim and Barbara came to see me in therapy a few weeks after Barbara discovered Tim’s affair. The affair had been going on for several months, and Barbara was devastated. Her world had been turned upside down, she was scared of having gotten a sexually transmitted disease, and she didn’t know what to believe or whether she even knew who Tim was anymore.

The first few months of therapy were an emotional roller coaster for both of them. Tim struggled with intense feelings of guilt and shame, and his pre-existing depression only got worse. He was profoundly grief stricken over the pain that his affair had afflicted upon Barbara, and was scared that Barbara would choose to end the marriage, which he did not want to see happen because he did love her. For her part, Barbara lost all trust in Tim, was preoccupied with learning the details of the affair, and was fearful that Tim was no longer committed to her and would eventually go back to the other woman.

Tim and Barbara made some progress in the first 4-6 weeks, including Tim’s effort at coming to understand his own vulnerabilities that rendered him susceptible to engaging in the affair, his unconditional acceptance of his own responsibility for the affair as well as Tim’s genuine expressions of regret and remorse for having had the affair. Barbara was attempting to deal with her own anger and grief at the same time that she was trying to understand what Tim had done and his seemingly genuine remorse. This progress was facilitated by them learning and beginning to use the Relationship Enhancement® skills of empathy and respectful self-expression in the context of a structured dialogue process that permitted them to dialogue about the extremely challenging issues they faced.

But when Barbara learned some additional details that she had not previously been aware of regarding the extent of the telephone contact between Tim and the other woman, Barbara went into an emotional tailspin. Increasingly, a tendency that had only fleetingly emerged in the early stage of therapy now burst forth into a firestorm in that Barbara was now convinced that Tim had the affair because he felt the other woman was sexier than she was, was more fun than she was, and that Tim was more in love with the other woman than with her.
This personalizing of Tim’s affair by Barbara whereby she turned it into a judgment and commentary about herself made the relational work between them even more challenging. While it took many months of intensive crisis management on the one hand, and frequent individual sessions combined with weekly couple’s dialogue work on the other, Barbara was gradually able to see that Tim’s affair actually had little to do with her and had everything to do with Tim’s underlying depression and poor self-image that rendered him vulnerable to the attentions of another female in order for him to escape the despair of his own lost self.

Tim’s unwavering commitment to Barbara and remorse over his infidelity also gradually helped Barbara to be able to put the affair in the context of his personal vulnerabilities while also being able to face the aspects of their relationship that made the relationship vulnerable to his infidelity. With Tim’s devotion to Barbara and complete transparency in his behavior, combined with their continued use of the RE skills and dialogue process, Tim and Barbara were able to gradually rebuild trust in the relationship and move toward genuine reconciliation and forgiveness.

Today, with the help of the RE skills and dialogue process, Tim and Barbara have completed therapy and are now planning their future life together, including making plans to fulfill their mutual goal of having a family.

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Time in Practice10 years +
I practice inAll areas, please inquire
Additional Expertise
I offer my servicesTelephone
Latest Expert Videos