Douglas Tilley, LCSW-C     716 Giddings Avenue, Suite 33,  Annapolis, MD     (410) 268-4072

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Couple Therapy

Couple Therapy Forms


Hold Me Tight:
Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love,
by Susan Johnson

This is a great book for all couples who want
to share a closer connection!

Sue Johnson - my teacher, friend and mentor - has given the field of Marriage and Family Therapy an incredible body of research and knowledge about marital distress and what works in therapy.    Thank you, Sue, for writing this wonderful book to help couples build stronger connections. 

                ...... Douglas Tilley


About Douglas Tilley

Doug specializes in working with couples experiencing distress.  He practices  Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, a research-based and results-oriented approach to working with couples.  This approach was developed by Susan Johnson, who has trained and mentored Doug for 12 years.  Doug is also the Director of the Maryland Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches EFT to other therapists.  He  is an experienced couples therapist who will help you and your partner along the path to building a safe and responsive connection. 

Couple Concerns

A couple's ability to stay emotionally engaged and responsive in the face of difficulty predicts marital satisfaction and stability...

Remember the old adage "time heals"?  Well, simply letting time pass is not likely to heal the distress and wounds of marriage.  Research tells us that marital problems generally do not spontaneously improve.  By the time couples separate or divorce, they have experienced on average 6 years of relationship deterioration.  Couples who are experiencing marital problems are well advised to spend time and energy on improving the quality of their relationship.  Here are other interesting facts we know from research about marriage and family life:

70% of couples experience a dip in their feelings of relationship satisfaction after the birth of a child.

30%-50% of couples experiencing marital problems have a partner who is clinically depressed.

Contrary to popular wisdom, it is feelings of estrangement, isolation and loneliness that are the driving force causing marital separation and not conflict or anger.

A man's health seems to benefit from his just being married. A women's health seems to benefit from having a positive relationship (one where she can confide in her partner).

85% of those partners who clam up and won't talk during marital conflict are men. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to pursue issues even in the face of increasing conflict.  

About 45% of children exposed to severe marital hostility (violence) exhibit extreme behavior problems. This is about 500 times the behavior problem rate in the general population.

Unfortunately relatively few couples seek help before the end of their marriage; but, warning signs usually appear years prior to the separation.  These signs typically include increasingly poor communicating, increasing conflict, loss of affection and intimacy, feelings of isolation and aloneness. On the outside these partners live increasingly separate lives and on the inside they are privately trying to cope with overwhelming feelings.

When Should We Seek Help?

The line is very thin between when partners experience a relationship as "troubled" and when they experience it as "too late to work on."   For example, a husband may be surprised when his wife decides to leave.  He may have ignored the warning signs and decided to wait to address the marital problems, hoping they would go away.  But he is shocked when the divorce process unfolds very quickly and his partner decides that it is too late, gives up and leaves.  Couples are well advised to heed the warning signs of marital estrangement and work on their relationship early.  When couples are making efforts to improve their relationship but are not making progress by themselves, they should consider working with a professional marriage therapist before one partner gives up.

Relationship Quiz

If you are wondering about the health of your relationship, here are some of the important questions to ask.   Most of these questions represent key areas of a couple's relationship that have been shown by research to be related to relationship longevity and stability.  John Gottman, PhD has done the most extensive research in this area at his research laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle.   See .

Directions:  To the following questions answer either:  
            (2)  Strongly Agree, (1) Agree, (0)  Neutral, (-1) Disagree or (-2)  Strongly Disagree.

Relationship Quiz

  2 1 0 -1 -2

I respect my partner as a person.






We are friends.






I am attracted to my partner.






We respect and appreciate our emotional differences.






I donít usually feel alone in the relationship.






We seek each other out to check on how the other is doing.






We are able to reach out to the other when we are overwhelmed, stressed or donít feel well.






We frequently ask what each other is thinking and feeling.






We enjoy a satisfying sexual connection.






We share household and parenting responsibilities and tasks.






After disagreements, we donít let long periods of time go by before trying to repair any damage.






After disagreements we do not become estranged for long periods.






During disagreements, neither of us becomes silent and withdraws for very long.






During disagreements, neither one of us becomes overly critical or contemptuous.






We share future plans and dreams.






We enjoy doing some of the same things together.






We allow each other to have their own activities, aspirations and dreams.





























If you answer agree or strongly agree to most of these question, your relationship is probably in great shape but if you answer disagree or strongly disagree to many of the questions then you need to work on improving aspects your relationship.  Many couples wait until one partner has already given up before seeking help.

How Can Couple Therapy Help?

The therapist can help guide you and your partner along the path toward building a safe and responsive connection.  He will help you identify repetitive negative behavioral patterns, and the feelings that underlie them.  The therapist provides a safe atmosphere to help each partner express those feelings and to facilitate listening and acceptance between partners.  The therapist's role is to help the couple learn how they have become stuck and unable to make connection and how they can build on their own resources to reconnect.  The therapist is also trained to help couples with special issues including aggression, substance abuse, affairs, depression, sexual issues and parenting concerns. 

Click here to learn more about Douglas Tilley's couple therapy services.

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Copyright © 2003 Douglas Tilley.  All rights reserved.
Last modified: November 06, 2012