Conflict • Trust • Sex • Intimacy • Affairs • Commitment • Communicationent
Struggling in your relationship and looking for marriage or couples counseling? Do you live in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia? I can help you become generous, resilient partners in a strong, loving relationship.
A long-term relationship can feel like sharing a small cabin on a long journey across an endless ocean. The journey starts with great excitement. But once you settle in, you often get in each other’s way; all sorts of things start to annoy you, and you sometimes need some space. You may even want to just get off the ship.
- Maybe you’re fighting over seemingly small or petty issues you know aren’t worth fighting about.
- Perhaps you’re feeling distant from each other.
- Maybe you can’t agree on some critical issue, like whether or not to marry.
- Perhaps one of you wants to become a parent, and one of you doesn’t really want children.
- Maybe your sex life isn’t what it was or what you would like it to be.
- Maybe one of you has had an affair, or trust has broken between you.
- Perhaps you’re struggling over how to parent, who makes the decisions, or how the money should be spent…or not.
- Maybe you’re frustrated and scared about how hard it seems to get along with your partner and build a life together.
These principles guide my therapy work with couples:
- All relationships are challenging at times.
- The challenges we face in our relationships are opportunities to become closer, stronger, more caring, and more flexible.
- Being in a relationship pushes us to figure out who we want to be, how we want to behave, and what is most important to us.
- To be happily coupled, we all need to find ways to deal with the inevitable conflicts, differences, and disappointments in any relationship.
- Keeping ourselves relatively calm and responding thoughtfully in tough situations is vital to a good relationship. I help couples get better at these skills.
- We have a lot of power to change ourselves and very little power to change our partners.
- I encourage each partner to figure out how you can do your best without waiting for your partner to make the first move. One positive step can be transformative. But if you’re each waiting for the other to make the first move, nothing will change.
- I will help you work on issues that may seem unsolvable or that you have been afraid to tackle.
- Changing how you behave in your relationship can be scary, even when you see the benefits. I will help you learn ways to calm yourself, so you can take steps to build a stronger relationship.
- Not every couple will decide that they should remain together. When couples are considering ending the relationship, I do my best to help couples make this decision thoughtfully and with respect toward each other.
In my Washington DC practice, I work with both gay and straight relationships with couples:
- Partners in committed relationships/marriages of any length
- Dating couples
- Engaged couples
- Newly married couples
- Couples contemplating parenthood
- Couples in mixed-orientation marriages
- Separated or divorcing couples
I have a doctorate in clinical psychology; many years of specialized training in couples therapy; and 25 years of experience helping couples here in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
I’ve also been in a committed relationship for more than 30 years.
I’m not a therapist who simply listens or asks how things make you feel. I give my perspective when I think it will be helpful, and strive to ask thoughtful questions to help you challenge yourself.
Here’s what to expect from couples therapy:
In our first meeting, we’ll start by discussing what is bringing each of you in.
I will be asking questions to start understanding the big picture of your struggles, and you will also have a chance to ask me questions so that we can get a good sense of whether we’re a good fit to move forward working together.
My goal is that you both leave with a more significant understanding of your difficulties so that you can begin thinking about how you might address them.
In future sessions, we will look at (and you will talk about):
- How each of you contributes to your difficulties
- What can you do to build a stronger relationship, and
- How you can develop the solidity and resilience to be a great partner.
I pay attention to your history because I believe that our past, including the families we come from, influences how we construct our relationships in the present.
Of course, we’ll also address how difficult it can be to make a change and how you can deal with your own discomfort around doing things differently.
Client feedback about my marriage therapy and couples counseling:
Michael is a great person to talk with if your relationship with a significant other is going through a rough patch. While there are a lot of therapists out there, I feel like he is well-suited to understand and help you address your needs. While it’s not his job to solve your issues, he certainly provides guidance that can help you help yourself–and your partner.— K.Y.
After a stressful move to Washington DC couples counseling was definitely called for and my physician referred Dr. Radkowsky for couples therapy. Very helpful. The sessions can be tough but we’re not missing the hostility, frustration and deadlock. We’re very comfortable with Michael, who somehow both puts us at ease AND pushes each of us to be a much better spouse. I think the best part of our couples counseling sessions is that we’re really learning to recognize our own part in our squabbles and learning some great ways to get a grip and behave way better toward each other. As a result, it’s easier to stop fighting and we’re arguing much less in the first place. We are a lot closer and much happier, and I think I can speak for both of us that we’re feeling resentful toward each other a lot less frequently. Neither of us misses the resentment. I’d say that couples therapy with Michael is saving our marriage.— R.A.
Common marriage and couples counseling questions:
What percentage of marriage counseling is successful?
Success does not always mean that a couple happily stays together. Sometimes a couple’s decision to part may be for the best, for example, if they are on opposite sides of a dealbreaker issue and each partner would rather have their way than stay together. That said, I aspire to help each person in a couple figure out how to be someone they think is worth being married to. When you consistently work to behave in a way you respect, your relationship will likely improve.
Is marriage counseling worth it?
Long-term relationships are difficult. They require us to be loving and generous and, at times to have a boundary so that we don’t betray ourselves while striving to please our partner.
They require us to understand why our buttons are being pressed and to find ways to calm ourselves when we’re anxious or angry. I think that working to figure out how you can do all of these things is an effort well spent.
Do you offer premarital counseling, and what should I expect from premarital counseling?
Yes, I do offer premarital counseling.
Premarital counseling is a great way to start a married life because you can learn from the get-go what it takes to have a successful marriage.
We spend time talking about what sort of marriage each of you would like, how you can make your vision a reality, how to cope with the big differences between the two of you that inevitably come up at times, and how to be loving partners who are also two individuals.
Is individual therapy better than couples therapy?
One is not better than the other. But when couples are struggling, couples therapy often is a better choice than individual counseling. Individual counseling may reinforce the client’s view that their significant other is the problem without the partner present.
Couples counseling helps couples look at their relationship as a system to which both are contributing and for which both bear responsibility. This helps each partner clarify what they can do to improve their relationship.
Couples therapy also helps each partner better understand their partner, which can often help them have more empathy and calm themselves when their buttons are pressed.
Can counseling help a broken relationship?
By helping each partner see their part in what is going wrong and helping each partner figure out how they can do their best in the relationship, couples therapy can help a broken relationship. When people strive to do their best, the relationship will improve.
It’s also true that one outcome of couples therapy may be that the couple decides that it is best to part. In these situations, couples counseling can help the couple do so in ways that are respectful to themselves, to each other, and to their relationship.
When should you stop marriage counseling?
Some signs that you should consider stopping marriage counseling: If you aren’t getting anywhere or if you have gotten to a place where you are content with the relationship.
For many years, I wrote a bi-weekly advice column in the Washington Blade and occasionally still write in the column. Here’s a sampling:
- Happy golden years?
- The toll of long-distance love
- Love vs. ‘in love’
- In sickness and in health?
- Marriage or mistake?
- When is a trial separation helpful?
- Wife suddenly wants to become a mom no matter what
- Coping with an alcoholic partner
I also encourage you to check out my blog posts to get a sense of my work as a psychologist who provides couples therapy. Here’s a sampling:
- Keeping Your Relationship Strong Through the Coronavirus Crisis
- When You and Your Spouse Disagree
- Can You Get Your Partner to Change?
- When Someone You Love is Depressed
Start today to build a stronger marriage and relationship
If you are looking for a licensed psychologist to help you feel better, be stronger, and/or improve your relationship, take the first step now by emailing or calling me at 202-234-3278 for a consultation. I have been helping gay and straight individuals and couples since 1995. I work with clients in my office, and I also offer virtual telehealth consultation and therapy via secure video.