Leaving Your Faith Community: What It Means for Couples

As an experienced therapist serving couples throughout the Las Vegas area, I often encounter people who are struggling with questions of religion and spirituality. Many are wondering if they can remain within the faith communities they’ve been part of for years – in some cases, all their lives.

This is a life-changing decision, no matter how you look at it. Leaving your religion means that a crucial part of your history will be left behind. This makes the transition very traumatic – very much like the death of a loved one. It is the end of a certain kind of reality, and therefore, a major shock to the system.

When couples decide to make this change, they are fortunate in the sense that they can walk this difficult road together. Still, there are many things they need to know as they provide love and support during the transition.


Breaking away from a faith that you can no longer comfortably live with is both a painful and liberating experience. Many couples tell me that they feel a huge sense of relief, even excitement about the new possibilities that leaving the church can bring.

Certain problems are solved when we walk away. For example, you will no longer have to twist your thinking and behavior to meet religious doctrines that were hard for you to follow. You won’t have to work hard to bridge the mental gap between the church’s view of the world and your own perceptions. Still, both of you may find yourselves fighting your way through long periods of guilt and confusion.

For devout couples, the church can be a one-stop-shop for social and spiritual needs. Churches provide a coherent worldview and meaning and direction in life. They also offer structured activities and emotionally satisfying experiences. Without these resources, how will you find a place where you belong – a new community where these important human needs can be met?


Questions like these point to the forces that can make leaving your religion a long, lonely, and confusing process. Departing from the fold means multiple losses, including the disappearance of many friends and in most cases, the loss of some family support. Some couples find they must deal with open anger and shame when church members criticize their decision to leave. The same people who were so warm and understanding once may suddenly feel like enemies.

I see many couples and individuals who need help with feelings of anxiety, grief, anger, and bewilderment as they sever ties to their former lives. They find their old beliefs are tightly bound with deep-seated needs and fears that go back to childhood. This can cause tremendous struggles that relate to our sense of self-worth and identity. Who are we when we are no longer the people we once believed we were?


If you’ve made the decision to leave your faith community, you will need tremendous support to get through the difficult times. I want to reassure you that I am here for you. As a long-time therapist helping couples strengthen all aspects of their relationships, I can empower you to deal with the inevitable bumps along the road to your new life. Working together as a team, we will explore new skills and perspectives that will help keep your relationship healthy and enable you to move forward.

To schedule a confidential appointment, get in touch with me today.




The 5 Worst Fears About Couples Counseling

Does the idea of coming to couples counseling send a shiver of fear down your spine? If you answered yes, you’re in good company.

Many couples know they need help, but they worry that the therapist won’t really be able to deliver. Maybe he or she will just spout the same old “solutions” they’ve already thought of before – or recommend things they’re not willing to do.

If you’re worried about the value of couples counseling, let me reassure you that in my work with hundreds of couples in the Las Vegas area, I’ve seen how powerful it can be in helping people restore love, communication, and trust in their relationships. Here are 5 common fears that you may have – and the reasons they shouldn’t hold you back.

Worry #1: The therapist will judge us.

The truth is, many couples face issues just like the ones you’re having — which means your therapist has likely worked with others who are in the same boat. Every couple is unique, but your therapist is unlikely to be shocked by anything you share.

Therapists are generally understanding and nonjudgmental. They are skilled at being open to your needs without imposing their views on you.

Worry #2: The therapist won’t have any solutions we haven’t already tried.

Often, finding a solution for a particular issue isn’t the main goal of couples counseling – although the process may begin with an open discussion of what you feel needs to change. Your therapist will help you learn new ways to communicate about issues so you don’t fall into painful, unproductive patterns that can harm your relationship. The issues you bring into the room will lead to healing on an entirely different level than you expected.

Worry #3: The therapist will choose sides.

An experienced couples therapist will not favor one partner over the other, although there may be times when one partner is the focus of a particular session. Other times, the focus will switch. No matter how strongly you believe that one of you is the “real problem”, the therapist knows that it takes two people to create a whole relationship – and two people to create progress.

Worry #4: Marriage counseling is a waste of time and money.

This can only happen if one or both of you are not committed to the process. If you’re open to counseling and you bring your best to it, you can accomplish a great deal in every session. Your therapist may also give you simple assignments to do before your next session, which can accelerate your progress.

Couples therapy is a time that is 100% devoted to your relationship. It may be the only time you and your partner are able to sit down together and focus on one another. Having a skilled professional who is thoroughly trained in couples dynamics will make your conversations even more productive.

Worry #5: We’ll just sit there and fight the whole time.

Some sessions can lead to arguments, but your therapist has tools to manage conflict and return your focus to the deeper issues that are causing repetitive flare-ups between you. You’ll learn more about what triggers these fights and how to turn them into productive conversations that actually strengthen the bond between you.

Don’t let fear block you from creating the relationship you want

As the founder of Couple Counseling here in Las Vegas, I have helped hundreds of couples address their fears and anxieties as they begin therapy. If you are ready to build a more loving, satisfying relationship, I am here to help. Get in touch with me now to schedule our first conversation.





Why Do Couples Stop Talking to Each Other?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, a theater or other public space and noticed that some couples are chatting away happily while others sit in icy silence?

Even more to the point: have you been that couple who are together, yet miles apart?

If so, you’re clearly not alone. Couples face constant challenges when it comes to keeping good communication flowing between them. Many fall into bad habits like these:

  • Responding to each other with anger and contempt
  • Acting thin-skinned and defensive
  • Criticizing each other’s thoughts, feelings or needs
  • Tuning each other out – or just pretending to listen

 You may be surprised to hear that these patterns are often just symptoms – a clue that there are deeper conflicts below the surface. Here are a few examples that marriage therapists see frequently in the couples they treat.

Partners often interpret everything through their own eyes.

In conversation, it’s so important to consider how the other person is feeling and what they may be thinking. Frequent interruptions are just one sign that we’re not tuned in to our partner. We are thinking only about what we want to say, not the point our loved one is trying to express.

Many studies show that men interrupt more than women, but I’ve seen couples where both have trouble allowing space for each other’s thoughts. The one being interrupted may think, “My partner doesn’t respect what I’m saying.” The one interrupting might be totally unaware that s/he is sending this negative message. By shifting awareness and seeing how our impulsive actions affect our partner, we can change how we relate to one another.

Another bad habit: trying to “win” all the time.

 Your relationship is not a contest. And every argument that comes up should not be a competition to see who will come out on top. Instead, you need to think of conflict as a sign that you need to take on an important issue as a team. Both of you can gain from this opportunity if you cooperate and make sure emotions don’t get the better of you.

Winning really means having a solid, loving relationship. If you adopt a win/lose attitude, no one truly wins in the end.

The language we choose can foster communication – or shut it down.

Do you pay attention to the words you use when you speak to your partner? Language matters a LOT when it comes to keeping the lines of communication open. Practicing mindfulness in the way you choose your words means slowing down and thinking before you speak.

Sentences that start with “you” often sound like accusations, as in “You hurt me”. Or “You didn’t even care about what happened”. Likewise, the words “always” and “never” sound blameful: “You always do this to me”. “You never seem to be there when I need you”. These statements sound so final and so judgmental that they often shut down dialogue instead of opening the door to understanding.

Don’t let the silence build up. Let’s work together to heal your relationship

As the founder of Couple Counseling here in Las Vegas, I help couples build strong communication skills. It’s so easy to develop negative patterns that keep you apart – but the truth is, you don’t have to settle for anything less than a dynamic, supportive relationship. If you’re ready to heal the silence between you, give me a call today.



Center for Mindful Psychotherapy