How marriage counselling can save your marriage before you even know it needs saving.
Your marriage has never been better. Your wife hasn’t nagged you in months, and you feel that she finally understands your need for space. You have a great marriage, and you think your wife has finally understood what you want from this relationship. What you don’t know is that she’s days away from asking you for a divorce.
What you see as a lack of nagging is, in reality, her understanding that her words aren’t important to you, and that you won’t listen to her. She has given up trying to start a conversation about anything more than superficial.
What you see as her giving you space is, in reality, her distancing herself from you, because she’s tired of feeling alone even when you’re right beside her. She experiences your lack of support for her endeavours as deeply painful, and although she has tried to explain this to you, you don’t understand what the big deal is. After all, you were simply trying to keep things real–you don’t think her ideas will work, and you want to prevent her from being hurt in the future. Unfortunately, that’s not the way she sees it.
With tears in my eyes, I told my husband that we needed to go to counselling because I was checking out of this relationship. By the time I woke my husband up from his nighttime sleep to let him know we had needed to do something to fix things, I was finding it hard to remember why I was still here.
For months, I had been talking about my ideas and my dreams, only to be shot down at every turn because they were unrealistic. As someone whose love language is words of affirmation and acts of service, I experienced this lack of support as an attack rather than a caring response.
For months, I had been grappling with an identity crisis that is inevitable when you give up the working world after 17 years to stay home with the children, in a country where you are defined by your occupation. This experience didn’t seem to make sense to my partner, who I felt wasn’t supporting me in my crisis.
For months, I was depressed because no one seemed to support my wish to become a writer, and my ideas were never good enough for anyone–my husband included. As part of my identity crisis, I revived my long-held hobby of writing, hoping to make it into more than just a hobby. But I encountered resistance at every turn, and the lack of support (even when I asked for it several times) was leaving me angry and ready to just give up on the relationship altogether–to simply cohabitate and forget my need for support, and seek it outside of the marriage.
My husband, the love of my life, who I have loved for over 15 years, wasn’t doing any of these things because he wanted to see me suffer. He loves me too, and his reactions to my ideas and suggestions were simply his way of dealing with the unknown. Although we are still very adventurous people, parenting has put a small damper on how adventurous we continue to be, now that there are three little people who will be affected by our adventures. My husband was simply being cautious.
But by this point in our relationship, we were speaking different languages, and neither of us seemed to be making enough of an effort to understand one another fully. Going to therapy was the best decision we made for our relationship, and we are once again feeling in love–after almost ten years of marriage.
I firmly believe the only reason it was this “easy” to get to counselling and resolve our issues in only three sessions, was that we were open to therapy before we had any real problems. My husband went to counselling alone as an avenue to self-improvement, and I decided to give it a try, too, to deal with some past ghosts that still haunt me frequently. We then went together to just talk about our marriage and how things were going–before we were having problems.
When some serious issues arose, and we couldn’t seem to resolve them our own, marriage counselling wasn’t so foreign, nor the scary experience it is for most people who wait too long to give it a try.
If you think you have a great marriage, go to counselling. One of two things will happen: you will find out your marriage isn’t as great as you thought it was, and you will be able to make it better, or you will be confirmed in your conviction that you have a wonderful marriage. Either way, your relationship will improve and both you and your spouse will be the happier for it.
Have you gone to marriage counselling? How has it helped your marriage?
Photo: Flickr/ Carlos Mota Jr.