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Is your partner emotionally distant or stonewalling? Has conflict increased or become more hurtful? Is the friendship fading, replaced by mere coordination of family duties and living like roommates? Has infidelity or other hurt damaged the relationship?



Spark a change toward connection, cooperation, and passion that you had early in the relationship. Couples wait an average of six years before seeking counseling to resolve relationship dissatisfaction, but you don’t have to put off repairing and improving your relationship. Fix it now before  problems take a larger toll. With over a decade of experience in clinical psychology and using the soundest research-based approaches with couples, I can help you resolve relationship problems and re-capture intimacy.

I am a marriage-friendly/relationship-friendly therapist, and over half my practice is devoted to couples and marriage counseling. While the majority of counselors will tell you they do couples counseling, this is one area you want a specialist. Don’t take chances with your family.

At Family Psychology of South Bend, most successful couples fix their problems with a series of several 50-minute meetings over two to three months. It’s much briefer than many people expect and yet the results are well above the national average.

Call us at 574-280-8199 to discuss your situation or to make an appointment. Or, email me with a question at Click to schedule your appointment.


middle age coupleCouples counseling is one of the most demanding and exciting types of counseling. It requires a broad knowledge and understanding of individuals, personality development, family dynamics, and what works in romantic relationships. My approach to couples is heavily influenced by the research of John M. Gottman, Ph.D. formerly of the University of Washington’s “love lab.” Gottman is the psychology equivalent of a rock star. In a field claiming to be a science of human behavior but with a dismal track record of predicting behavior or even giving clear concise advice based in scientific findings, Dr. Gottman’s longitudinal research on marriages and romantic relationships stands out for it’s stunning ability to predict relationship satisfaction and longevity with accuracy over 90%. His findings are scientifically sound and easily translated into practice – the dream of every clinical researcher. Gottman has recently ventured into the Popular Psychology realm but his roots are firmly in research and professional training. For more information on Gottman’s work, see

Bill Doherty is another major influence on my work. Hi biggest influence was to help me appreciate the importance of being pro-marriage and pro-relationship when doing couples work. Bill is also the best resource I’ve encountered for information on couples sexual health and sexual intimacy.

Call 574-280-8199 with questions today and see what can be done for you marriage. Click to schedule your appointment.

Anatomy of Marriage and Marriage Counseling

Relationship counselingDivorce and marital satisfaction are not in the stars or a matter of luck. They are highly predictable. In fact, it is embarrassingly rare for clinical psychology to be able to predict much, but divorce and marriage satisfaction are stunning exceptions. Jon Gottman’s research in particular has helped us understand every strong intimate relationship is made of four basic factors: Friendship, Emotional Intimacy, Conflict Style, and Shared Dreams.

If your marriage has a strong friendship component, you enjoy and admire your partner. Spending time together is pleasurable and can be fun. You cooperate to negotiate daily living tasks fairly and with respect.

But friendship without emotional intimacy leads to living like roommates or – when children are involved – a joint venture in meeting responsibilities of parenting. These are worthwhile tasks but tasks that alone do not provide for a happy marriage. Emotional intimacy involves a daily and weekly connection at a deeper level, knowing the ebbs and flows of your partner’s emotional life over time. This knowledge and connection needs to be refreshed frequently to avoid it becoming stale and intellectual. On average, 15-20% of emotional intimacy depends on sexual intimacy.

Many people are surprised to learn marital conflict in general does not predict marital dissatisfaction or divorce but how you do conflict is predictive of divorce. Emotional withdrawal, criticism/attack, defensiveness, and contempt or put downs have been dubbed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse because they are so detrimental to marital health and happiness, like throwing acid on the relationship.

Lastly, shared dreams anchor the relationship and gives the entire marriage direction over decades. It is the part that inspires us to look at the next horizon as chapters of marriage pass. A portion of your individual and marital dreams need to intersect with your partner’s for the marriage to have direction and passion over a lifetime.

Perhaps you want to learn more about your relationship or strengthen areas of weakness. Or perhaps you’re at a particularly low point and worried about the overall health of the marriage. Maybe your personal happiness is limited by high conflict or emotional distance in the marriage. All of these can be addressed by counseling. If you have questions please call me or write to me. I’m Dr. John Petersen, Clinical Psychologist, and relationship issues make up half of my clinical practice. My phone number is 574-280-8199, and my email is You may also Schedule an appointment online, Click to schedule your appointment.