Transcend Wellness encourages all couples, both pre-marital and married, to take the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment. It is a computerized assessment tool that we offer that assesses both the strength and growth areas of a couple’s relationship. It can help highlight differences in perceptions and values, as well as generate open dialogue regarding these differences and their relative impact on the relationship. The assessment is not a predictor of relationship success. Rather, it is meant to emphasize helpful patterns and conflict areas to assist couples in increasing their understanding of one another and find alternative ways of thinking, perceiving, and behaving.

Approximately half of people who seek therapy often to do so out of significant concern for their relationships with their romantic partners. Our relationships with our partners are often our greatest sources of both joy and stress. The reasons people seek guidance varies by the individuals and by the couple itself. Some couples seek therapy to strengthen their commitment and improve the quality of their partnership. Others may be searching for a safe environment to begin the process of separation, but desire to do so in an atmosphere of support and non-judgment.

John Gottman is an influential and well-respected pioneer in the field of Marriage Counseling. He has done extensive research on couples and destructive patterns of relating that are frequently associated with divorce. Gottman identified four styles of communication, which he entitled the“ Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, that threaten the security and future of a relationship. They include: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Much of his literature focuses on these unhealthy styles of relating and offers corrective measures to help couples to engage in more loving, adaptive styles of communication.

Listed below are suggested reads to help couples increase personal awareness, identify unhealthy patterns, and improve their ability to relate and navigate conflicts. Though this can be done outside of a counseling setting, many therapists use these very principles and exercises in session with clients. In conjunction with the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment, couples counseling, these books can form a relationship ‘tool box’ to help partners increase their ability to communicate effectively, manage conflict, and foster increased feelings of intimacy and affection.