Working with Couples

As far as we know we offer the only program for couples in either the U.S. or Canada. As any of you who have tried couples’ counseling know, it’s very difficult for one of you not to feel ganged up on. Woman counselor and wife vs husband, or male counselor and husband vs wife. Triangulation dynamics doom the process before it even starts.

Now let’s add alcohol to the mix and do you need to guess how combustible that mix becomes?

We didn’t think so.

Effectively working with couples requires a team of counselors. Each person needs an advocate or at least someone who can identify with their side of the various issues but also counselors who are not wedded to gender stereotypes.

That brings us back to Mary Ellen and me.

Two professionals with decades of experience but also our own histories. Mine as a person who fell into alcohol abuse following an avalanche of person tragedies. Discovering that no real help was available – I’d have rather kept on drinking than lower my to the level of the AA cult – I spent several years digging my way back out and discovering what actually works for adults.

Mary Ellen was the family member designated to find help for her brother only to discover, as I had, that no appropriate help existed. (See Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Sent My Brother Off To Rehab) She was left to fabricate and facilitate solutions on her own.

Yes, we bring a multitude of perspectives to your problems while preventing the triangulation noted above. Additionally, being that we’re both over 60 (me more than that), you aren’t dealing with clueless kids whose range of personal experience isn’t much more than nil. Since we rarely take clients under 40, this age factor is important in your being able to form working bonds with us which reflect shared cultural perspectives.

We also have to arbitrate the inevitable disputes that you will present fairly and in a manner which you can both respect. The CBT point, for example, that “preferences” aren’t “laws of nature” but merely personal preferences is a good place for mutual understanding to begin. As is “the person who has the responsibility has the authority to decide how it’s done,” whether it’s loading the dishwasher or overseeing a major remodeling project.

Yes, you are a couple and assuming you wish to stay that way you need a team, good will, and good humor. Otherwise, you each need a lawyer. We’re a lot cheaper and the outcome is more apt to bring you closer, not drive you further apart.

Time to take a chance?

A Craving is a Craving is a Craving…

People act as though a craving for alcohol (or drugs) is somehow different from other cravings. It’s not. The brain’s mechanisms for creating urges does not differentiate between differing urges.


It means that since urges are much the same, and as you have resisted other urges all of your life, you can manage these ones too. Again, “powerlessness” is just another excuse for not wanting to assume responsibility for our actions whether in the past, present, or future.

Still, it is helpful to realize what we’re actually craving under the guise of so-called “alcohol craving.”

Let’s look at cocktail hour.

It’s 5:00 p.m. and you want that first drink! You’re tired, hungry, frustrated by work or kids or spouse or anything and everything else. You haven’t eaten much all day.

That’s the first clue. You blood sugar levels are down to nil and your body is screaming for sugar, a plea you mistake as a craving for alcohol. Your body sees alcohol as predigested sugar but doesn’t, physiologically, doesn’t care what form the sugar it wants and needs comes in.

Next, the traditional alcohol you consume replenishes the blood sugar deficit, which restores energy, while also calming and relaxing you. What’s not to like about that and that would be fine if that’s as far as it went.

Then there’s the third craving – the urge to repeat the habit or ritual we have created around that drinks or drinks. And we all love our established behavior patterns whether it’s our drinking patterns or where we shop or where we park or any of a hundred other daily actions. It’s why AA adherents crave their meetings with the same desperation they once applied to alcohol.

So there you have it. Three cravings entwined and mistaken for one, and, frankly, the one for alcohol is usually the weakest, the blood sugar one the most easily fixed, and the habit/ritual one the hardest to break and the one that leads many of us back to our “same old, same old.”

The misuse of alcohol has a variety of components, a mosaic of pieces. If you want it to go away then you need to address the pieces. But first you need to know what they are and then you can prioritize and address them in a sane and systematic way. That’s where we come in. We help you create a mosaic of solutions that matches the problems and help you to make effective efforts to squeeze the alcohol abuse out of your life and relationships.

Isn’t that what you really want?