Center For Relationship and Sexual Wellness

Center For Relationship and Sexual Wellness Specializing in relationship issues, marital/couples therapy, couples on the brink of divorce, and s


Sharing stories, needs, desires, or grievances— there's a powerful connection in the balance between speaking thoughtfully and listening intently. Click the link below for a refresher on the Six Essential Practices to enhance your listening skills in relationships.


Spouses, especially those on the brink of divorce, tend to be very other-focused, while therapy can only work when someone owns their role in why the marriage got to the point of possible divorce. Discernment Counseling builds in a structure that inherently holds personal accountability from both partners for the state of the marriage and works with both spouses to better see their contributions.


Yes indeed. Integrity and accountability go hand-in-hand.


It’s easy to bring up everything that frustrates you about your partner in an argument. A disagreement over doing the dishes can quickly escalate into sweeping statements of discontent about the whole relationship.

My advice: be specific. Stay in the micro. The more macro-level your statements, the more powerless you render your partner to respond generously.

I invite you to use the Feedback Wheel to communicate when you’re hurt or upset with your partner. Visit my YouTube channel via the link in my bio to watch a free video on how to use it.


We can build connection, we can heal from our past hurts, by changing the way we relate to others. By changing our behaviors and actions, we invite a different response from others.

The first step toward relationship empowerment, is identifying how you’re currently showing up in your relationships. Take my FREE Relationship Grid Assessment now to find out.

Comment QUIZ below to receive the link in your DMs.


Therapists love the idea of a clinical roadmap. Unfortunately, regular couple therapy roadmaps don’t work when the spouses are heading in different directions: one leaning towards immediate divorce and the other desperate to salvage the marriage. Discernment Counseling is the only research-informed approach that directly serves couples on the brink of divorce. The entire process is transparent to everyone and includes clear goals that both spouses sign up for.


Many couples experience roommate syndrome when life gets busy and they find themselves growing resentful of their partner.


“It takes two to tango” is a cliché but it’s really true. We have a lot of influence over how our spouse reacts to us, and through a discernment process, we can find a new way to view current problems in the relationship.


Making a child into the family hero—the light all others depend upon—is a form of trauma.

If you’re struggling with grandiosity issues, or if someone you love is, I’d ask you to take a moment now and open your heart a little. Think of yourself or your partner as the child they once were. No one asks to be groomed for grandiosity—it happens *to* them, through false empowerment, and they generally take it in by modeling a grandiose parent.

Remember, through reaction, we resist the way our family viewed us; through modeling, we internalize it.


If you ask questions that require only a yes or no answer, you hinder conversations before they can begin. You can accidentally close the door that you want to open.

It is very difficult to share your thoughts and emotions by answering yes or no questions, but with open-ended questions, the door for a deeper connection is unlocked.


This is retaliation and it’s one of the 5 Losing Strategies we employ in our relationships. We hurt out partner in the hopes they’ll realize just how much they’ve hurt us.

But punishing someone will never lead them to the understanding or accountability we hope for.

Instead of retaliation, I invite you to explore the 5 Winning Strategies instead:

1. Shifting from complaint to request
(Let them know what you would like them to do)
2. Speak out with love & savvy
(Remember you are a team, and your goal is to find a solution that works for both of you)
3. Respond with generosity
(Listen to truly understand and acknowledge your behavior)
4. Empower each other
(Express appreciation for their efforts and understand how you can help them come through for you)
5. Cherish what you have
(Focus on the good in your relationship and nurture it)


To heal a large betrayal or hurt, “I’m sorry” is only a good first step. Sometimes a good apology is a long-distance run—one that requires us to sit in the hot seat and listen with an open heart to the anger and pain of the wounded party on more than one occasion.


If I could only make one cultural word change related to divorce, it would be never saying “they decided to divorce.” It’s almost always one spouse making the decision; rarely do both people equally decide at the same time to end the marriage. We need to honor the different places and pain both people experience on a divorce journey.


All relationships, even the most successful ones, have conflict. It is unavoidable. Fortunately, our research shows that it’s not the appearance of conflict, but rather how it’s managed that predicts the success or failure of a relationship. We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve,” because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects that provide opportunities for growth and understanding.

The first step in effectively managing conflict is to identify and counteract The Four Horsemen when they arrive in your conflict discussions. Thankfully, for every horseman there is an antidote, and you can learn how and when to use them here:




Our relationships are our biospheres: We don’t stand above them, we are inside of them, we depend on them. It’s an act of enlightened self-interest to care for them.

To learn more about this topic, I invite you to read my book, ‘Us.’ You’ll find the link in my bio.


Point of View An Emotionally Focused Path to Healing Trauma Accessing the Resource of Relationships Ryan Howes & Susan Johnson Magazine Issue September/October 2023 Share TwitterFacebookLinkedInPrint I If you’re a therapist, you’ve undoubtably heard of Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT. This m...


Our imperfections collide in ways that disappoint, hurt, and even betray one another.

James Framo, the father of couples therapy, once said the day you turn to the person sleeping next to you and realize that you have been had, that this is not the person you fell in love with, and that this is all some dreadful mistake, is the first day of your real marriage.

And what a great thing that turns out to be. While we may long to be married to perfection, it turns out it is precisely the collision of your particular imperfections with mine—and how we handle that—is the guts, the actual stuff of intimacy.


In our relationships, there’s no room for “objective” reality. There is no cut-and-dry “this is how things are.” What you have are two subjective realities colliding. And to nurture your relationship, it’s critical to give space to both your and your partner’s experiences… you don’t have to agree, but you must show compassion and listen non-defensively to their perspective.


Relationships can be difficult even in the best of circumstances. When anxiety and stress mount even the most solid relationship can get stuck in too much distance, intensity, and blame.


Asking your partner to show immediate proof of a problem they’ve shared with you is hurtful and invalidating. Here’s a better path forward.


Falling in love, we believe (consciously or not) that with this person, we will be healed... or at the very least avoid and compensate for our earliest lacks and injuries.

Disillusionment comes with the cold realization that not only will your partner not directly heal you, but they are also exquisitely designed to stick the burning spear right into your eyeball!

But we can heal within our relationships.

You might want to ask yourself: What is the dark night of the soul of my current relationship? What do I miss? What keeps going awry?

And then you might ask: How do I usually deal with these issues? Do I charge in, complaining? Do I “set the record straight,” demonstrating my rightness? Do I vent? Retaliate? Shut down and avoid?

And, finally, if I could stay seated just a few minutes longer in my Wise Adult, how might I handle things differently? What would it sound like if I met my partner with compassion rather than judgment or control?

What changes would I need to make inside myself to evoke and stay grounded in my own maturity, no matter how they might respond?


The need to be right is individual empowerment, it’s disconnection, it’s thinking about “you vs. me.”

Relational empowerment moves us beyond that and back into connection. It’s you and your partner as a team, it’s thinking about “Us.”


26 Roberts Street North 114-2
Fargo, ND


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Welcome! I am happy you are here!

The Center for Relationship and Sexual Wellness (CRSW) specializes in relationships and is dedicated to providing evidence-based relationship therapy. Science tells us what keeps relationships together and what pushes couples apart. The CSRW provides you with a safe space and the tools to work through even the most challenging issues in your relationships. If you need to find clarity about what to do in your relationship or are on the brink of divorce, the CSRW is here to help.

If you would like to learn more about therapy services please visit the website at or call 701-478-4144.

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