A couple's therapist on what works - and what doesn't - in a committed relationship

Dr. Robert Mannis, a clinical psychologist in Frederick, shared his thoughts on what it takes to repair a relationship, and when it's time to let go.

I've done well over 50,000 clinical hours in my professional career. And in my experience, there are three essential pieces of incompatibility in any given relationship. There's the sexual, the financial, and child-rearing practices. If you think about it, those are the three essential interactions that a couple has in their relationship. I wouldn't say those are the exclusive reasons any given couple comes in to see me, but the vast majority of the time, it is one or a combination of the three.

Whether or not a couple can make it has a lot to do with the effective means of communication that they can establish. That means a respect for the other person's truth. As opposed to trying to convince their partner of their truth. See, I flip it. You may not agree with it, but if you respect your partner, you should respect that they are offering you their truth. Just as your truth is what you are offering them. You see, I can't change either of you. What I have to do is teach you how to listen respectfully to what the other person is saying. And to make the changes yourselves, apropos of what the other person is asking for.

Of course, that's reciprocal. It's not a one-way street. In other words, both people get to talk about their truth. Both people get to listen in a way that will facilitate change on their part. Often people want to come in and elicit my support to change the other partner. I don't buy into that. I won't do that. There's no right and no wrong, as far as partnership goes...