marital therapy

by humanmama on February 3, 2012

In the past few months I’ve had more than a few people complain about their spouses/partners. And not just in the usual “they’re never putting the dishes away!” style, but sometimes in a far more serious way. I’ve heard friends and relatives, colleagues and acquaintances say “we lead separate lives,” “we’re incompatible sexually,” “I’m afraid to talk to them because they’ll leave,” etc.

Peeps, this is not good. No matter if you’re 20 or 70, you’re too old to think things will just “work out” by themselves. And no matter if you’re 20 or 70, you’re too young to live the rest of your life in misery. If you’re over 80, I suggest starting a regimented diet and exercise program and trying to outlive your spouse. And when they pass, mourn briefly and then try for someone better. And younger! Heck, you haven’t been working out for nothing!

What’s the deal with people and marital therapy? I am a huge advocate. Carpenter and I have been before and when people say “you two are great together,” we laugh, knowing that it isn’t always fun and roses, but it is great in the end. So why is everyone so against going to a therapist with your spouse? Here are my theories:

1.) Plain ol’ fear. Fear of not knowing what a therapist is all about. Fear because you don’t know where to begin. Fear that someone will find out. Guess what?! If your friends find out, they’ll probably beg you to give them the phone number of your therapist. Don’t be afraid. That’s not the way to live.

2.) No one wants to change. You might consider going to a therapist, but you want to hear that you are the one that is in the Right, and that partner is the one that is in the Wrong. Guess what? A good therapist won’t take a side, but will serve as the advocate. They would teach you how to better communicate with each other and help you clarify the real issues behind your arguing, instead of the two of you just fighting around in circles. You will have to change. And so will your spouse. But it will be for the better. Doesn’t everyone want to be better? I know I do.

3.) No one wants to be better. Seriously. We are humans, and human beings do not do things repeatedly without getting something out of it. I hate to say it, but on the surface you and your partner are getting something out of the way you argue, even if it’s horrible. There’s a better way to get something wonderful, though. And it’s longer-term. Think you’ve been fighting a lot? Tired of always yelling the same things to your significant other? Try reacting in a different way. Try taking a moment to think before reacting. Try arguing in a different location away from the immediate stressor. These and more are all excellent strategies awaiting you at your next marital therapy visit! Stop in today!

4.) You’re hoping they end it. This is a very sad strategy but sadly, this is being utilized by many people out there. I ask you–maybe it’s terrible. Maybe I have no idea what’s all happening with the two of you. But chances are, if you’re fighting, your spouse knows you want them to be the one to ask for an out. And so, being in the state you two are in, you know full well that he/she will not want to give you the satisfaction of being the first to say “I’m through.” Right?! What a jerk! Why did you even get together in the first place??! Wait–think about that. Why did you? Was there something in the beginning? There must have been something. Go to a therapist together. See if you can find that something. Or see if ending it is the only option, and how to go about that like two mature and responsible adults. For a change.

5.) You have children together. This is the worst reason ever for not committing to a relationship decision, but it’s en even worse reason for not going to therapy together. If you’re even considering ending your relationship, you need to have someone teach you what to do, how to go about telling the children and what to expect as they cope.

6.) “My spouse won’t go to therapy.” Well, I have to ask: did you ask already? Did you find someone good and ask again? Did you begin going and ask again if they’d join you? Did you say “I am unhappy in this marriage, and I’d like to be really happy with you. Let’s try to find someone together that we feel comfortable with to help us communicate better so we can both be happy, together or apart”? Well, did you? Then you don’t truly know if they’ll go or not. (Tip: if you got this far, make sure you talk with your therapist about what to do next, and good for YOU to go work through your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. I know who’s the better spouse here, that’s for sure.)

Seriously–marriage is a lot of work. A super, hard, sometimes terrible lot of work. But it can be so totally gratifying to be with someone who really does complete your life, someone who you consider as a friend. Someone you can talk to. And no, I’m not talking about the therapist now. Now I’m talking about your spouse. Get somebody to help the two of you fight, communicate, verbalize–you won’t be sorry. Your kids will be delighted–you’ll be teaching them how to live. How to pick out a spouse (really, do you want them miserable like you are? Because they will be if you teach them otherwise). And you might actually discover you love your spouse, eventually. Or at least, yourself. And then you can love your life again.

Yay! Marital therapy! Go get ’em!

I’m rooting for you!

 

 

 

 

 

___________________

folks, obviously, none of this applies to abuse. Getting hit, pushed, thrown, or belittled is not a way to live. Still go to therapy–but go to find a way out and learn to live again.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess February 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Chris and I did the marital therapy thing. Not that we were ever close to divorce or anything…but, well, I was being a bitch 24-7 and he wanted to know why and what he could do to help. Unfortunately for us, our therapist was really bad. Like, it was come in, sit down, and tell me about your day. Um, I could go up to a psycho on the street and do that for FREE! Not to take total responsibility for all our problems, but ya know what improved things an insane amount for us? My getting on happy pills. Paxil is my best friend :) The depression rate among moms is off the charts, and I’m here to say DON’T FEAR THE DRUGS! I don’t see them as a cure-all…but boy, they sure do help to get you (the generic “you,” not YOU in particular!) to concentrate and focus which in turn helps you tackle other issues in your marriage. I’m still a bitch…but now only the usual 8 days during the month ;)…and the hubby and kids are much happier with that!

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bethani February 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

agreed. we had a horrible marital therapist who alternated whose side to take (so awful). but it still helped in the end! we did end up really communicating and working through some big stuff.

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Katherine February 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I’m a hardcore therapy advocate! It’s true that there are many therapists who are just plain awful, but embarking on the quest to find a good therapist is it’s own exercise in self-advocacy. Also, it’s worthwhile to stick it out for a few sessions before you make a final decision. My partner and I are seeing a great therapist now, and we really didn’t like her at first–she’s not someone that we’d ever want to interact with outside of her office. However, the stuff we do in session and the homework she gives us has helped us tremendously–much more so than the work we did with a therapist we had “clicked” with before we moved.

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