Many of my Houston marriage counselor clients come in so bogged down in current relationship issues and life problems that even though they want the marriage to work out, they just don’t see how it’s possible. He yells all the time, she only talks to him to complain about how he’s failing at something, and they’re both just sick of each other.

The first thing that I remind them is that they have to believe it’s possible or they wouldn’t be coming to therapy at all, so they’re already ahead of a lot of people. Next, I say something that surprises a lot of people: I tell them to forget about the present and take a journey into the past.

Houston Marriage Counselor: Remember When You Were Happy

Married couples trapped in a downward spiral of anger and blame tend to lose sight of the fact that they have a lot of shared history with this person they’re fighting. Not all of those memories are happy, certainly, but many of them had to be to get you down the aisle, and this is a person deeply ingrained in the fabric of your life.

I’ll typically ask couples to tell me stories from earlier in their relationship, often before they even got married. Often these end up being firsts – first dates, the first time they met each other’s families, or the first time they realized they were in love.

Some of the memories are romantic, but many aren’t. Regardless, it’s harder to keep fighting with someone after reminiscing with them about a crazy prank you pulled together or how they did something wonderful that made you look at them in a different light.

Because these memories can be so personal, I tell them they don’t have to keep sharing with me, but I want them to make a point to revisit a memory each night before bed. For many couples, their relationship issues diminish quite quickly.

Houston Marriage Counselor: If We Were Happy Then, Why Not Now?

What this memory therapy does, more than anything, is remind couples that they were good together once, and could be again. It’s an infusion of good feelings and hope at a time when those things feel very far away, and sometimes people forget about the positive when they are surrounded in negativity.

If you and your spouse are going through relationship issues, I highly recommend this technique as a starting point. Those who continue to have troubles after trying to work through them on their own should seek out a Houston marriage counselor.