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Relationship Saving Marriage Counseling for over 20 Years

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What To Do When Parents or In-laws Are Adversely Affecting Your Relationship

Marriage Counseling Insider secret for Saving Your Marriage: What To Do When Parents or In-laws Are Adversely Affecting Your Relationship

For over 20 years as a couples therapist, I‘ve specialized in saving relationships that were on the verge of ending even when only one person still wanted the relationship to work and even when they had no hope that it could be saved.

As a marriage counselor, I’ve found that many of my clients have parents or in-laws that are, at times, adversely affecting their life and their relationship.  Here are some ideas that I’ve given to clients coming for couples counseling that might help that I recently gave to Sam.

Sam has kindly given me permission to base this blog post on the exchange he and I had about this common marriage problem.

Dear Fred,

My Dad is widowed. He has lots of friends and is very active on almost a daily basis at the local senior center especially playing cards with his buddies there.

He expects me to call him every day.  When I don’t, he keeps leaving voice mail messages and sending me emails about how hurt he is and says or implies I don’t love him and that he feels abandoned.

When I do call him, he goes on and on for what feels like hours and all he does is whine and complain and puts me down. He tells me all the things wrong with me and with my wife and with how I’m living my life. And, he keeps rehashing the past over and over.

When I tell him how he makes me feel he just acts hurt and sad and says more things to guilt me. He never really listens to me. When he comes over or we go to his place, he’s very controlling and constantly telling me and my wife what to do. My wife can’t stand to be around him.

I come out of every conversation and every visit with him drained and exhausted and defeated. This is putting a strain on my marriage and has become one of the biggest marriage problems we are having. When he calls during work hours, it’s hard for me to concentrate in my meetings after I speak with him. He’s ruining my life. I don’t care if I ever see or talk to him again and that makes me feel really guilty. I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thank you,
Sam (name changed to protect the guilted)

Hi Sam,

It sounds like you both love your Dad very much and that you feel trapped and controlled by him.

I can tell you that as a marriage counselor this is a relationship problem I run across a lot in doing marriage therapy.

Here are some possibilities for you that I have found as couples therapist have worked for my clients:

Call your Dad at five minutes to the hour during work hours. Tell him you are about to go into a meeting but that you wanted to say hi before you do. That will help to keep the conversations short but still make him feel that you’re connecting with him.

When you go to visit with him, consider going by yourself. You can make up a believable reason why your wife can’t come. That will take some of the strain off your marriage.

When you do visit him, do some activities that you both enjoy doing together. For example, if you take him to a movie you both want to see, then up to two hours of your visit is watching a movie you’ll enjoy and being free from the negativity you are used to receiving from him.

Try going with him to the senior center on at least one of your visits. I predict he will be on much better behavior there than when he’s alone with you. If he is, that can be a standard part of your visit and you can also suggest that he invites his friends from the senior center over when you come for a visit and you can do a fun activity together as a small group like playing cards.

Again, as a marriage counselor, these are options that I have found in relationship counseling that have worked for many of my clients that were having a similar relationship problem.  Let me know how they work for you.

Take care,

Fred Talisman MFT, Licensed Marriage Counselor

Here is  Sam’s report to me on what happened:

Hi Fred,

Your suggestions were a life saver and they’re working!

My Dad is fine when I call him 5 minutes to the hour and tell him I’m about to go into a meeting.

You were right. He’s a whole different, more positive person when he’s at the senior center or when we invite his friends over for a card game when I visit.

To my surprise, he’s ok with my wife not coming with me on my visits to see him. She still comes when it’s a major holiday but she’s ok with that and we now play a lot of cards and board games on those visits and always have his friends over during the visits.

Thank you,

What’s your most burning question you want to have answered?

I am grateful that you are in my community. Thank you for allowing me to share my knowledge and experience with you.

Here’s to you successfully asking for and receiving what you want from the people in your life.

And, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Feel free to forward this email to anyone you think can benefit from it.

I have a question for you.  Given where you are in your relationship right now, what  are the marriage problems or relationship problems you’d most like to have solutions for?

If you have an immediate need for my help, feel free to Contact Me or give me a call.

Take care,
Fred Talisman MFT

Licensed Marriage Counselor
Saving marriages for over 20 years
Author of: Save Your Relationship
A proven system to rescue your relationship and to keep your family together.
Cell: 310 429-3658


P.S. As part of the marriage therapy I do, I sometimes recommend inspiring books for couples to read or hear together on audio. I just  heard a wonderful and fascinating audio book: “Homer’s Odyssey, Or How I Learned  About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat.”


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Fred Talisman MFT
Relationship Saving Marriage Counselor for Over 20 Years

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My husband and I personify the saying, “Opposites attract,” and one Saturday three months ago we’d finally hit the wall; We were in that make it or break it moment. This was especially frustrating because for the ten months prior we’d been seeing a highly recommended psychologist who seemed to make our emotional situation worse. Every session went about the same: we’d air our discontents, yelling would commence, tears would fall, and the psychologist would “arbitrate”, but offer no tangible alternative ways of dealing with our conflict and emotions when he wasn’t there with us. Then he’d conclude that while we were both, “intelligent, kind, loving people, maybe you’re just not cut out to be together.” Nothing felt more awful than being told by a professional that our relationship was probably doomed. We knew we loved each other – and I knew there had to be some better way. In desperation on that particular Saturday I googled “how to save my marriage” and that took me to Fred’s website. Half an hour later we had him on the phone (on a Saturday, no less!). He asked us both one simple question, “Are you committed to saving your marriage?” Even though we were raw with anger, resentment, and hurt, we each said yes. And then he scheduled us a session for later that day. Ever since that first session Fred has been gently providing us with relationship skills we hadn’t been taught before. His approach is non-judgmental, and deliberately – remarkably – simple, and his techniques do work quickly if you are dedicated to following the steps he’s laid out for you. He provided us with time-tested ways to stop our fights before they start, and the techniques one needs to function more healthily in their relationship. Best of all he’s started to give us a way to better accept each other the way we are – rather than try to change one another. And he does this without psychoanalysis or psychobabble. It is a very refreshing approach to couples counseling; He’s not just a relationship saver, he’s a relationship builder. Thanks Fred!”
-Nichole and Jake Chambers

 “By the time I found Fred Talisman, Cindy was ready to break up with me. I was devastated. She is the person I love more than anyone. She is my soul mate. She felt that she could never trust me again and that she could never forgive me. Before I found Fred, I had tried other things and spoke to other people, but not only were their methods ineffective, some actually made things worse with her! I saw couples counseling with Fred as my last resort but she wouldn’t do it with me. I worked with Fred on my own while working with his home study course, ‘Save Your Relationship.’ I’m not geographically close to Fred’s office, so I worked with him by phone. To my amazement, working with Fred by phone was more valuable than any help I’ve gotten in person.

Thanks to Fred, she gave me a last chance. Fred gave me hope beyond hope. I was impressed with his depth of understanding and compassion. I saw the first improvements with her almost immediately after the first session I did with Fred. Cindy and I got married almost a year after the crisis that Fred got us through. Using the things that Fred taught me, my wife and I are now stronger than ever as a couple. Our relationship gets better everyday."

And that’s not all! She is now pregnant going on 20 weeks! I am so incredibly excited about what this little life will become. We are ecstatic. Everything is working really well. It’s amazing. I’m very grateful and thankful for all of Fred’s incredible help. The skills he taught me have also improved every other relationship in my life, including my friends, relatives, work mates and casual acquaintances. If everyone learned Fred’s skills and put them into practice, the world would be a much better place. I really can’t thank Fred enough and by the grace of God, I am on a much better track now with my wife. Fred not only showed me how to save my relationship. He also forever changed my life for the better. What I got from Fred is the most valuable help I have ever received.” What a difference he has made to our lives. Words do not say enough about how grateful I am. Thank you again Fred. I can’t thank Fred enough for all that he has done for us.”
-Dennis Hart

 “I called you because I really wanted to save my relationship. I feared that it was a lost cause and that we couldn’t get past the infidelity, the lack of trust and his fear of commitment. I want to thank you for the guidance, support, and help you have provided. I have learned so much about myself, relationships, and how to communicate to others from you. Everything you said makes sense and everything you taught me to do worked and continues to work. I realize I can use your skills not just to keep my relationship strong but for the rest of my life. You’ve given me invaluable life skills. I teach all my friends what I learned from you so they’re all getting the benefit of your help too. Thank you for showing me how to save my relationship. It’s in a really strong place and keeps getting better.”
-Marsha Robins

Can I help you save your relationship and help you to keep your family together? Probably. The best way to know if I can help you is for us to have a conversation. Call me now. I’m glad to spend some time talking to you. Once I hear about your situation I can tell you how I can help you. You can call or text me now at 310-429-3658, Or email me at
I serve the South Bay, Westside and San Fernando Valley communities. I do sessions in person, by FaceTime, by Skype video and by phone.

I'm really good at saving relationships. To get an idea if I can help you here’s some of the relationships I’ve saved in the words of my clients and what others have said about me as a relationship saving marriage counselor:

 “Before we came to Fred Talisman, my wife and I were on the verge of divorce. Issues had become so complex and intertwined that we couldn’t begin to sort through them. Also, the emotions associated with the issues were preventing us from being able to work them effectively. Trust had been breached as we “acted out” in various ways to relieve the stress. Fred provided both a supportive, safe container as well as the feedback necessary for us to separate the issues from our emotions and the issues from each other. He also taught us how to compartmentalize issues, breaking them down into simple negotiations. With his help, our marriage has transformed into a place where we can manage our relational and situational challenges in a way that brings us closer together, rather than pushing us apart. Thank you, Fred, for helping us save and positively transform our marriage!”
-David and Christina Litman

 “When he and I were in crisis last February, and looking like we were about to end our relationship, we agreed to get help as a last gasp attempt to possibly save “us.” I began the search for someone local, knowing that anyone we chose was a crap shoot at best. And I was feeling like if we are going to do this, I wanted to give us the best possible shot at a positive outcome. I found your info online, and I wish I could tell what it was that resonated with me, but something did and I convinced him to participate, at least to give it a try. Fred, it is hard to express in words the process, or how it worked (not trying to make it sound mystical here) but there is no doubt that it did. You brought clarity to so many issues and enabled us to rediscover the joy we had shared in each other in the past. We learned to laugh with each other again, and we have tools to keep any conflict from developing into something unnecessarily weighty. I believe we both feel that our communication skills and our depth of feelings for each other have been enhanced by the time spent with you. I wouldn’t hesitate to share your contact with anyone who confided in me that they were concerned about the future of their relationship–thanks to you, ours has a future and it is bright! Thanks for being the catalyst for this rebirth–YOU ROCK!”
-Mindy Paulson

 Fred was instrumental in helping my wife and I work through a very difficult chapter in our life. After helping us work through the immediate ‘crisis’, he went further and gave us the communication skills necessary to having a healthy relationship. These tools have transformed the way we interact and have allowed us to reach mutually beneficial agreements on items that had long been a source of conflict.”
-Stan Johnson


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