Basic Learning Principles Help Marriage Counseling Practices 
An effective Psychologist, Relationship Advice provider, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner (which means: help to bring a change), should always remember the first year in college, where the basic psychological principles were presented. Not all wheels could and should re-invent themselves. What do I do and why as a Marriage Counseling professional has a sound foundation, once basic Principles of Learning are applied.

Stage One - How It All Began:
Most human emotion and sex related interactions start due to an environmental condition that elicits a reflex response. A reflex is a simple unlearned response to a stimulus. In psychological textbook terms: once upon a time, when the two first met, there were: (1) an unconditioned stimulus—a stimulus that elicits a response without any prior learning, and (2) an unconditioned response—an unlearned reflexive reaction to that unconditioned stimulus. Using Psych 101 terms: everything started with a Classical Conditioning event: a neutral stimulus (i.e.: smell) that elicited an unlearned natural response (i.e.: attention and erotic sensation) was paired with a new stimulus (i.e.: her or his real face). As a result, the new face came to elicit a new response (i.e.: attraction, dating, sexual fantasies) that is identical or very similar to the natural reflex.
The best Marriage Counseling mission therefore is to lead the couple back into such a stage.

Stage Two - The Building Blocks:
Positive reinforcement is any of your behavior that leads to an increase of your partner’s behaviors. Marriage Counseling therefore has a lot to do with inventory check: what are the actions of each of you that lead to an increase of your partner’s behaviors that are desirable by you? Are they positive (i.e.: you ask something and your spouse razes some difficulty about it; you smile and ask again, so eventually your spouse accepts it) or problematic (i.e.: you ask something and get your spouse’ reservations; you then use loud and abusive tone so your spouse agrees with you, hoping to calm you down)?
Using Psych 101 terms: Marriage Counseling has a lot to do with Operant Conditioning:
learning from the consequences of our behavior. Many times the counseling meeting takes a form of a study session, as the counselor teaches the concept of Timing: reinforcements should be given within a short amount of time following the desired response. The greater the delay between the response and the reinforcement, the slower the learning of your partner would be.

Another basic concept within any Marriage Counseling process that involves sexual difficulties is Shaping: the method of successive approximations. Behaviors that are successively more similar to the desired behavior are reinforced.

Stage three - Targeting The Marriage Counseling Long Term Goals:
Classical conditioning usually involves reflexive, involuntary behavior that is controlled by the spinal cord or autonomic nervous system. This is how the Chemistry of Love is constructed. The more therefore you blend your life with erotic features that fit your spouse’s taste, the more you increase your chance to get to the promised land of continuous mutual attraction.
Operant conditioning usually involves more complex, voluntary behaviors that are mediated by our cognitive system. The more you identify appropriate reinforcements and link them to your spouse’s behaviors which you like, the more you increase the likelihood of achieving a pleasurable marriage life for yourself.

What is Relationship-in-Marriage Advice counseling?
Article #2: What happens at marriage counseling?

What and Why I Do What I Do As a Marriage Counseling Practitioner 

100 Years of Marriage Counseling Theory and Practice

What Do I Do and Why as a Marriage Counseling Professional? In order to be a creative and effective Psychologist, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner (means: help to make a change), I am also required to be a student. Not all wheels should re-invent themselves. What do I do and why as a professional Marriage Counselor has a 100 years of theory history.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claimed that the roots of psychological problems are innate motives (sexual and aggressive) and that conscious mental processes have trivial importance compared with the unconscious mind. Since his time, the topics of sexual gratification and the need to control (a form of aggression) are the core issues in most marriage counseling cases.

B.F. Skinner (1904-1999): A strict behaviorist who commanded us to deal only with measurable and overt behaviors and expect behavioral changes as a result of reinforcements or sanctions. His ideas are the core of all structured learning and un-learning tasks of marital communications and role functions. ‘Shaping’ is the name of the game. 

Albert Bandura (.. 1925.. ): his Social Learning Theory emphasizes the processes of learned behavior through observation and imitation of significant persons in our environment. Most undesirable behaviors, in regards to marriage harmony, like verbal, physical and substances abuse are well explained by his theory. Understanding the source is many times followed by treating and healing.

Humanistic Psychology (..1950-70..) takes for granted that human being possess an innate tendency to improve and determine their lives by the decisions they make. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) theorized that we all try to achieve positive self esteem and to search for self actualization. Theses powerful motives explain both wide spread human habit to get married as well as many ‘bad marriage behaviors’, such as infidelity or divorce. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed the Unconditional Acceptance therapy method, which helps marriage partners to achieve a ‘second chance’ attitude, both from therapists and spouses.

Virginia Satir (1916-1988) helped to understand the required Change Process Model, which works well for two person’s team as well as for entire organizational change wave. She also trained the profession to pay only little attention to the “presenting issue" or the surface problem, since this is seldom the real problem; rather, to understand, and later change, how people cope with the issue, since their behavior at that point creates the problem.

Article #3: What happens at marriage counseling?

Marriage Counseling: What, Why, How

What is Marriage Counseling? 
Any intervention in which a third party – Psychologist, Marriage Counselor, Life Coach, Medical professional or clergy –provides types of ‘therapy’ for either a married couple or a partnership who tries to resolve problems in their relationship. Typically, the two attend the counseling sessions together, or in the case of Online Counseling - the same phone or computer conference call. There are however many cases in which only one partner may actively participate as each may have different agendas.

So what is ‘therapy’, in the context of marriage counseling? It is a systematic and structural process in which the marriage counselor, who must be trained in psychotherapy and family systems, focuses on understanding the clients' symptoms, underlying needs and expectations and the way their interactions contribute to problems in the relationship.

What is the difference between ‘good talk’ with a friend or a family member and the discussions with a professional Marriage Counseling?      Marriage counselors are trained in behavioral science models, psychotherapy processes and techniques and anonymity with no bias to one or the other.  Most likely the professional also consults with colleagues or other experienced therapists regarding their cases. 

How does it work? Marriage counseling is usually a short-term therapy that may take only a few sessions (1-12 sessions) to work out problems in the relationship. Typically at first I ask questions about the couples’ history and personal background, their past and current roles, dating, sexuality and communication patterns, personal or mutual goals, and their current value/belief system. I summarize my initial meeting with the couple, assessing the aspects of the relationship; thereafter we create a preliminary understanding about their issues, regarding sexuality, recognition, achievement orientation, etc. The process in most cases continues to zoom in on the ‘Identified Client’ - the partner who “appears” to contribute the most to the problems in the relationship. The talented professional will soon diffuse and reveal to both clients the fallacy of one being the sole responsible and help them see the reciprocal nature of the events.  

Only with total acceptance of this, can the two explore ways to change their interacting.  A well practiced tool is a ‘contract’ in which each partner describes and commits to remedial behavior he or she will try to achieve. 

Does it work? I know that my marriage counseling processes help 70-75% of the couples who meet with me to deal more effectively with problems and alternately,  years of agony and unhappiness could end within two or three months of working together. Case follow-ups after a year show that those problems with tendencies to reappear do not repeat themselves in most cases. My personal data is aligned with continuous academic research results: effective professional marriage counseling does improve the couples’ physical as well as mental health, while improving their satisfaction with the relationship.