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Successful Marriage: Love ain’t enough says Dr Tony Fiore

Outside Stressors, called “thirds” can destroy your marriage no matter how much you love each other. Successful couples of course should love each other, but they also must have skills to deal with common stressors of married life. Moreover, they need additional skills to deal with each other around these stressors, says Dr. Tony Fiore, who has seen hundreds of individuals and couples in relationship trouble.

What are these “thirds” that are destructive to a relationship?
A destructive third can be anything that prevents a couple from having a close bond, having each other’s back and prioritizing their relationship. Thirds can create havoc in a marriage, yet the problem is not strictly a marriage problem per se. The real problem is inability of a couple to successfully deal with an outside stress threatening the marriage.

Common thirds that I see in Couples Counseling in Orange County are:

  • Anger or poor impulse control

  • Parenting or Children Stress

  • Substance Abuse (including excessive drinking) by one partner

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Outside stressors called “thirds” can destroy a relationship no matter how much partners love each other. Three of them are:


(1) Poor anger management: anger or other negativity is a significant factor in marriage failure. Take this online quiz to determine to what extent anger is an issue in your relationship – and what to do about it.

(2) Parenting stress: Successful couples find a way to prioritize their relationship and still be good parents. This often requires planning special times for the two of you – while grandma watches the kids. It may also require that you physically sleep with each other instead of with a child (yes, some parents have their partner regularly sleep in another room while their insecure child is allowed to sleep in the couple’s bed with the other parent)

(3) Substance abuse including alcohol: For expert opinions on how to handle a substance-abusing partner, click on “How to Help an Addict: Top 25 Addiction Experts Share Their Insight.”

What to do if one spouse doesn’t want to have sex

I am pleased to offer a guest blog by Michelle Weiner-Davis, whom I have known for many years, and popular author of "The Sex -Starved Marriage." She gives practical and sensible advice for both partners on what to do if one spouse doesn't want to have sex.

When a Spouse Doesn’t Want to Have Sex

It has been two months since Janet and Mark have had sex. They’re hardly speaking to each other. If you asked Janet about this, she would say that their home has become a battle zone-they fight about every little thing. Janet goes out of her way to avoid Mark to protect herself from his wrath.

Mark tells a different story. His anger, he believes, is justified. He is fed up with Janet’s lack of interest in their sexual relationship. “She never initiates sex. She recoils when I try to kiss or hug her. I’m tired of being rejected.” To cope with his unhappiness, Mark spends longer hours at work and busies himself on his computer at night, deepening the chasm between them.

Both Mark and Janet think that the other one is to blame for the problems between them. They have hit an impasse. The result: A sex-starved marriage. And sex-starved marriages are surprisingly common. In fact, in about one in three marriages, one spouse has a considerably larger sexual appetite than the other. This in and of itself is not a problem-it’s how couples handle their difference that matters.

Here’s what you need to know to fix a sex-starved marriage and make you both happier…
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If you are the lower desire partner, find time and a way to have sex anyway as a gift to your partner. If you are the higher desire partner, figure out what turns your spouse on, speak from your heart and ask for what you want instead of complaining.

How to Get the Most out of Marriage Counseling

Many couples who have tried marriage counseling feel it doesn’t work. However, Dr. Anthony Fiore, a therapist who has treated hundreds of Orange County couples during the past 30 years, disagrees. He argues that marriage counseling is as important therapy tool as it ever was. However, for it to be effective, the timing has to be right. The therapist has to make sure that both parties in a troubled relationship are totally committed. Discernment Counseling is the all-too-often omitted first step.

A guide for Orange County couples on the brink of divorce

Many couples come to me after they’ve tried traditional marriage counseling. They’re usually frustrated and depressed. One of the most common things they say is: “We tried marriage counseling and it didn’t work!”

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. But, as you’ll see, there’s hope at the end of the rainbow.

What’s wrong with marriage counseling?

I don’t think there’s anything particularly “wrong” with marriage counseling. (If I did, I wouldn’t still be offering it to Orange County couples on the brink of separation.)

The problem with traditional marriage counseling isn’t related to the therapy itself, or the way it’s delivered. The problem with marriage counseling involves when it’s delivered.

All too often, however, both parties aren’t fully committed to their partner and the relationship.

In situations like the one described below, even the most skilled therapist and well-planned program doesn’t stand a chance!
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Marriage counseling has a much better chance of working with mixed-agenda couples on the brink if you have a discernment process first. Without separate "buy-in" from both partners as a pre-requisite to marriage counseling and a firm plan, marriage therapy is doomed to fail. Would Discernment Counseling work for you? Does Discernment Counseling make sense to you? What Discernment Counseling resources are available in Orange County? Do you wish it had been available sooner? Share your comments, experiences, or questions below, as comments. Note: your email will not appear when your comment appears, after moderation.

Is it OK for wives to verbally abuse husbands for not helping more around the house?

Husbands who fail to help with chores, child care, and daily household tasks is a leading cause of household anger and deteriorating relationships. 

In situations like that, women often feel justified in being angry, frustrated and fatigued—and verbally expressing their discontent. But, wives are not justified in verbally abusing their husbands to get them to do more.

Assertive communication

The right way to get your husband to help around the house involves teaching wives a better way to communicate and motivate their husbands. This is one of the most important ways marriage counselors can reduce relationship anger.

Assertive communication involves learning to express what you need or request without anger or rage. Anger and rage usually makes things worse and invites retaliation. In addition, parental anger is very harmful for children to witness.

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Can Marriage Counseling make your husband more responsible? The key to your husband being "more responsible" is developing shared expectations and agreeing what is fair. Both partners contribute to this process by changing their attitudes toward shared responsibilities and replacing verbal abuse with healthier assertive communication skills. You can reducing the toxic effects of anger through self-help or working with a marriage counselor experienced in anger management.