Alex and Paige have been married for over three decades and were moving into a new phase with adult children and Alex’s early retirement. They began couples counseling when Paige insisted on counseling, saying, “If it’s not counseling; it’s going to be the end.” Paige said they had lost their communication skills, and she had an issue with Alex’s drinking. Alex primarily drank socially, but when he drank to excess, Paige found him embarrassing.

Despite the years together and the significance of the issues, they only needed four sessions to work on the relationship. They started with the drinking issue. Alex didn’t realize the impact of his drinking on Paige. They also worked on their communication skills throughout the treatment.

Their fifth session was two months later to be sure they maintained their progress. I will likely see them for the last time in three months to be certain their progress locks in. I share this hopeful story since couples can sometimes move through counseling relatively briefly, despite their long history. Their decision to engage in couples counseling likely changed the trajectory of their retirement years.