Marital Conflict


According to a New York Times article, two years after ending counseling, 25% of couples are worse off than when they started, and after four years up to 38% get divorced. Couples counseling rarely involves looking at the brain while trying to help failing relationships. We think that is a mistake, and our work confirms this.

How Amen Clinics Can Help

Marriage is hard even when both partners’ brains are healthy. At Amen Clinics, we know that divorce is so common that it can’t be a function of personal failure or lack of character. We understand the pain of marital strife and the reasons why couples don’t want to get divorced, and we want to help you keep your relationship strong. It starts with taking a close look at you and your spouse’s brain. 
For prevention or pre-screening of couples, think about the brain whenever there is relationship trouble, including: 
  • Chronic arguing or fighting
  • Someone always says no 
  • Impulsivity, poor judgment, addictions 
  • Anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior 
  • Changes in behavior 
  • Failed couples counseling 
  • Abuse (verbal, physical, sexual)* 

SPECT Imaging

SPECT imaging (which stands for single-photon emission computerized tomography) is a special kind of photograph we take of the brain to help us better understand how it works and what is going on inside of it. SPECT can specifically help people overcome marital conflict by:

  • Helping identify areas of low activity and blood flow in you and your spouse’s brains
  • Helping determine if there could be co-occurring conditions that need treatment 
  • Helping determine if treatment is working correctly 
  • Increasing treatment compliance by showing pictures of results
  • Helping couples gain a better understanding of their brains through visuals

Learn more about SPECT

Visit our Science page to learn more about how SPECT works. 

The Mathisons’ Story†

A few years ago, a couple came into Amen Clinics after failing marriage counseling. They had seen a counselor for two years—at a cost of $25,000—only to be told that they should get divorced. After conducting a full personal history on the man and the woman, Dr. Amen asked if either one of them drank or used drugs, and they both said no.

Next, the couple underwent SPECT scans, and when Dr. Amen saw the husband’s scan, which was filled with so many holes of inactivity it looked like Swiss cheese, he asked again if the husband did drugs, and he again denied it. Dr. Amen wasn’t satisfied. “What do you do for a living?” he asked. 

“I finish furniture in a furniture factory,” the man answered. 

There it was. While the man never used street drugs or abused prescription medicine, he was basically “doing drugs” every day on the job, where he breathed in harsh chemicals that altered his brain function. He had worked there for five years—and the time he started the job matched the time when his wife said he became “a jerk.” 

Dr. Amen helped the man obtain a transfer to another part of the company, where he wasn’t exposed to fumes, and then put him on a healthy brain treatment. Soon, not only did his brain scans show improved overall activity, but more importantly, he became himself again, and he and his wife agreed that their marital difficulties had been resolved. 

Does this kind of situation seem familiar to you? Do you sometimes wonder what happened to the person you married? At the Amen Clinics, we know how many factors can affect brain health and have unintended impact on marriages, and we take full personal histories before beginning SPECT imaging or recommending any treatment program. Call us today at 1-888-564-2700 or tell us more to schedule an appointment. 

*If you are afraid that someone may be hurt, or if you are afraid of your partner, please call 911. While we believe that everyone can benefit from SPECT imaging and a healthier brain, please note that we cannot provide immediate help or protection from abuse. 
†Names have been changed. 

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