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Dr. Carleah East is a clinical psychotherapist, empowerment coach, speaker, and author with 20+ years experience. She has a “straight no chaser” philosophy; real solutions for real struggles, and she does it all with a mixture of love and humor.

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I have been considering going to counseling with my husband but he hates the idea of it. How can I make him realize that this is important to me and for our relationship?

I have to be transparent about this. Therapy and its process is an individual journey. I totally understand that you feel therapy is the next step for your relationship, but your husband must also feel the same. If you are successful in “convincing him” and he agrees only to please you, the journey will only be half-traveled. He has to fully embrace the need and believe in the power of therapy in order for it to be successful. We do not have time for the “fake it to make it” method. I encourage you to explain to him the benefits, such as having a non-biased party assist in shedding light on some dark spaces and providing guidance where thoughts can sometimes become lost, etc. If he is still not fully convinced, go to therapy yourself. Yes, it takes two to be in a successful relationship but sometimes one partner has to lead. In the end, the discoveries and healing you journey through will still make a difference and hopefully add to your growth. Leading by example can be the pathway to reunification.

My boyfriend of four years and I have been going through a rough phase where we just can’t get along. It’s been like this for about a month or two and I find myself very hurt and down a lot. How can I tell if this is just a bad phase or if this is a sign we shouldn’t be together?

Do you feel like fighting for the relationship? That’s what it really boils down to. Honey, relationships are a full-time job and sometimes a job and a half. But the reward or payoff is worth all the labor you punt into it. No relationship can move forward without growth and those growing pangs. Every relationship will hit some bumps and even some detours but if each person still feels vested in the relationship both will work together to get things back on track. You must ask yourself this, “Is this a relationship I want?” I say want and not need because honestly, nobody NEEDS to be in a relationship. You should want to be in one; you should choose to be with someone. You wake up, and despite the rough phases you still choose him. Now, if this is a repetitive rough phase that you have seen time and time again, it may be time to recognize the season for this relationship has ended. However, if you still have some fight, then fight for your relationship, but make sure he is fighting just as hard. Never forget your worth! You can’t fight for someone who’s walking away.

I lost my girlfriend’s trust a few months back and though she has forgiven me, I can tell there is some anger still there. How can I gain her trust back and forgive myself in addition to that?

Trust. So easy to break and hard to regain. Listen, I am a firm believer that relationships can overcome most things if both parties want to do the work. In healing a bruised relationship and rebuilding trust a few things must happen. You must apologize, she must accept. You must show, through actions and words, you are dedicated to rebuilding and she must reciprocate. It takes both of you to heal the scars, not just the person that broke trust. You must feel you are still wanted as well. This motivates you to go hard and helps you heal. It’s also important to take a hard look at the relationship before trust was broken. Were there any communication issues or lack of respect? Did you both notice distance growing between the two of you? The reason for this is to assess the entire relationship even before trust was broken so that both of you are aware of the areas that need work. Building trust is one thing, but trying to build trust on a shaky foundation will never provide it the strength to hold. It takes both of you to come together and decide together that you want to continue the relationship. Remember, this is your relationship, not your friends or your families and the two of you are the only voices that count. Both of you can make the choice to renegotiate the contract of your relationship so that it may continue to heal and grow.