Woman to Woman
How counseling can help a relationship
By: Jen Schalliol
No one ever wants to hear the words “marriage counseling.” It still makes my own stomach turn a little just to hear them. Oftentimes, the implications or worst-case scenarios are so devastating to even consider that it seems easier, safer and even smarter just to not think about it. Ladies, I am here to say: take the plunge!
When I got married, my husband Dave and I promised each other that our love was something we’d always work on, no matter what. We were always open with each other, so when I suggested we see a counselor, it was hard for Dave to understand why outside help was necessary. He was certain there was nothing we couldn’t talk through on our own. Yet, we’d been having the same arguments and issues for years, and as much as we tried to resolve them every time, we’d reach the same dead ends. It’s hard to be the one to suggest counseling, but I suspect it’s equally hard to have it suggested to you. Dave wanted us to be happy – we made an appointment.
And there we were. We were nervous, but the benefits of beginning our sessions were clear early on. First of all, biting the bullet and addressing the problem is empowering. Even though it’s frightening, it feels good and proactive to finally step up, acknowledge the issue, and make a concrete effort to resolve it. Also, there was the typical relief one often finds in any kind of therapy when you get to finally speak about things that have been on your mind, and usually kept secret, for who knows how long. I never talked about my marriage troubles to my friends or family, because it felt like I was going behind Dave’s back.
More importantly, having a counselor really highlighted ways that Dave and I interacted that we had never noticed on our own. Still, patterns formed early can be hard to detect except to an objective, well-trained eye. I would do all the talking. Dave, for a long time, had very little to say, but I gradually realized that marriage, as they say, takes two, and even though I seemed the most tormented and vocal, the problem wasn’t my fault, and the solution wasn’t solely up to me.
I can’t begin to tell you how important that was for me to realize. Counseling isn’t something that causes a marriage to break up. Instead, it shows you what you’ve got; it sheds light on what sort of commitment you have, and what tools you have or need in order to solve the problem. This is helpful. This is crucial. So take a deep breath and get started. You have everything in the world to gain.
Tell us: Have you been through marriage counseling? If so, has it helped?