A group of independent counselors serving Kingwood and Houston
Specializing in Gottman MethodTM Couples and Marriage Counseling

Archive for the ‘Substance Abuse/Addiction’ Category

Divorce Can Be Predicted with 94% Accuracy

Friday, September 6th, 2013

No one gets married with the intent of getting divorced, but statistics show that once blissful couples can turn into bitter enemies over the course of time.  Wouldn’t finding an antidote for that bitterness and preventing divorce be potent medicine?  We actually do have information on what prevents divorce thanks to world renowned relationship researcher John Gottman.  He studied numerous couples and the data collected has been useful in predicting the trajectory of relationships with 94% accuracy.

If you do a Google search of what causes divorce you will find many sources that cite infidelity, growing apart/falling out of love, finances or addiction as the reason(s).  But that’s not what Gottman’s research showed.  He found four clear patterns that lead to relationship demise and he aptly named them The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The first Horseman is criticism.  When our partner criticizes us it feels anything but constructive.  Criticism fuels fights and escalates conflict.  While it might momentarily feel good to give our partner a zinger, it’s hurtful and destructive.

The second Horseman, defensiveness, swiftly gallops in on the heels of criticism.  When we are attacked we naturally defend ourselves.  But defensiveness is really just blaming or criticism in disguise.

Gottman calls the third Horseman contempt, the sulfuric acid of love and the best predictor of divorce.  Contempt is about having an air of superiority over our partner and belittling their character.

Stonewalling, aka the silent treatment, is the fourth Horseman.  When one is angry and ready to fight but their partner is shutting down, it truly is like hitting a stone wall.  Anger gets more inflamed and shutting down turns into running away.

The Four Horsemen are toxic to any relationship and unless couples learn effective antidotes, relationship demise may be on the horizon.  If the Four Horsemen are hanging around your house it may be time to get rid of these unwanted guests.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC, RD/LD

Certified Gottman Therapist

Sex in the Digital Age – 5 Things to Tell Your Teen

Friday, July 19th, 2013


Because of the nature of the work I do, I am privy to some of the latest trends in what couples do in the bedroom, except the bedroom is now really cyberspace and it only takes one person with a pulse to have a sex life.  As a couples’ therapist who endeavors to teach people the joys of deeply connected intimate bonds, cybersex is throwing a wrench in the works.  Being the mother of a teen coming of age in this new sexual culture, I have realized that the standard Birds and Bees talk is not hitting the mark.  Yes folks, that’s right, you now have to teach your kids that true sexual intimacy means two live people, not one person with a good internet connection.

Tell your children . . . .

  1. You cannot fill your emotional and sexual needs online.  Building a truly connected relationship means touching each other heart and touching each other physically.
  2. Internet pornography and chat rooms are cheap thrills, and usually degrading.  It is true that the sexual scenarios played out online are steamy and real life partners may not measure up, but building a true connection takes more than a hot sex life, much more.
  3. Virtual partners, such as Furries are a growing trend.  Because these images are anthropomorphized and sexualized it is easy to confuse them for real life people.  But they are not.  They are computer generated and don’t really understand you or have an attraction to you.
  4. Develop a comfort level where you can openly talk about sex, not just dirty jokes or crude remarks.  Being able to talk to your sexual partner about what you both desire and building a true intimate connection, not just a sexual connection, is what real relationships are all about
  5. Understand that pornography, chat rooms and virtual partners are not real.  When you engage in these activities you can be hurting yourself and your partner.  You can become addicted to these things and your partner can feel betrayed, reducing your chances of having a beautiful, loving, trusting relationship.

Teach your teen not just about STDs and how to prevent pregnancy, but also the importance of building an emotional connection.

Mary Beth George, LPC, RD/LD

Certified Gottman Therapist



How Much Alcohol Is Too Much???

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

I read an interesting article in The Washington Post about a study that showed that alcohol was more dangerous than illegal drugs, including crack, cocaine and methamphetamines.

The study looked at factors such as how destructive each substance was to individuals, families and society.  It also evaluated how much harm it caused to one’s health and associated costs related to health care, social services and prison.  Alcohol was deemed the worst because of its widespread use and devastating consequences.  One of the study authors stated that “alcohol is embedded in our culture and not going away”.

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear about a client relating a negative alcohol related incident.  Stories range from not liking their behavior or their partner’s behavior when they drink or to concern for someone else who drinks to excess.   People often question what is normal and how much is too much.   I hear plenty of justification for alcohol use and plenty fear of living without drinking.  What is abundantly apparent is that no one, not even teetotalers, are immune to the effects of alcohol.  Clearly it is embedded in our culture and not going away.

Is binge drinking considered alcoholism?  Is drinking one glass of wine every day a
problem?   Just exactly how much is too much?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has conducted research to determine what level of alcohol consumption is considered high risk for developing alcoholism.  They have determined that for men the level is fewer than four standard drinks per day, not to exceed 14 drinks in any given week.  For women the numbers are no more than three per day or a total of seven in any given week.

If you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief and saying “Whew, I make just under the limit”, take a minute to review what is considered a standard drink.  Five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and 1.5 ounces of spirits equals one drink.  Are you pouring a small glass of wine or filling a large Bordeaux glass?  Are you measuring the vodka for that screwdriver or are you eyeballing it?  Denial is one of the hallmarks of alcohol abuse and the vast majority of drinkers underestimate their actual alcohol consumption.

In addition to looking at actual amounts to determine if there is a problem, behavior must also be examined.  Is alcohol the only way you can relax or open up in social situations? Are you spending money you don’t have on alcohol?  Are you and your spouse arguing about alcohol use?  Have you had a brush with the law related to alcohol?  Do you regret your behavior after drinking?  Are you engaging in risky behavior while drinking, such as driving or risky sexual behavior?  Does alcohol use interfere with your productivity?  The list of negative behaviors is endless, but the answers to all require brutal honesty.  Failure to act on these negative behaviors
almost always has painful consequences.

If you are at the point of asking what is normal, chances are alcohol is already having some negative impact in your life and its use needs to be closely examined.  Talk with a therapist or contact the Houston Council on Alcohol and Drugs for information or a free assessment

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC, RD/LD

Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy Associates provides service to Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Porter, Fall Creek, Summerwood, North Houston and surrounding areas.

Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates

2330 Timber Shadows Drive
Suite 106
Kingwood, Texas 77339
Ph: 281-812-7529


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