Counseling. One or Two?
So my wife has begrudgingly agreed to marriage counseling, so yay if I haven’t already ruined our marriage.
Question is this: I have a therapist for myself for my own head junk, who is qualified to do marriage counseling, but should we find a separate counselor for “us”?
I don’t have counseling/therapy experience so I can’t add anything on top of @SC and @NWNL. However, I wanted to point out that your wife agreeing to this is a good sign even if she is “grudging” about it! Make sure to remember that and be kind/appreciative to her in this.
ETA: Fixed NWNL’s name (previously said OWM)
A therapist, over a counselor, is usually overall better from a marriage stand point (counselors tend to look at an individual, therapists look at the bigger picture of a unit, like a family or a marriage.) Have you asked your wife what she would feel more comfortable with? I would go with whatever she feels most comfortable with. She may find comfort in using someone who is “known” by you. Or she may feel like it will be unfair. Personally, somebody who already knows you, will be able to get further with you quicker…. if they are a good therapist. But if your wife has a mental block against them, you’ll get no where.
PPK, I’m glad to hear it. I always believe there is hope if both people will commit to being honest and seeing the process through with a Christian counselor. Counselors have their specialty and I don’t know if your counselor is good with couples issues. We have counselors and organizations we specifically recommend based on the issues/needs. Addictions…behaviors…family relationships are all unique.
If you don’t want to ask your pastor, can you call a large church in the area and see who they recommend for your issues? Maybe they have someone in house. You could also call FamilyLife, Focus on the Family, New Life Live and MarriageToday for reputable Christian counselors.
Also, will your wife feel hesitant to go to your counselor based on your relationship with them, their sex, etc? It may go easier if you can choose someone together to see. You could do a little research and narrow it down a little and let her choose OR you could do it together. Have a phone call and/or gather some names, call them together with your wife or call them separately.
Those are my thoughts and I pray that God will take you through this tunnel of chaos and you’ll come out the other side of it with a stronger relationship with God and with each other in marriage.
I would recommend a a Christian psychologist/therapist over a Biblical counselor, someone who has gone through university and the certification process. Biblical counselors do not have that level of training and accountability.
I would go with other thoughts, whatever your wife is most comfortable with as far as your counselor or a new one
I always assumed therapy was a pragmatic and useful thing. You know the drill; someone else may know more about your situation than you, etc. Internet says 75% success rate. However, my own wife claimed that we needed counseling so she could “prove” I was a boisterous and unfeeling man and that God was indeed punishing me until I improved. Take my autistic son for instance; she says I am too hard on him. Then I went back to work and she had to deal with him. She won’t admit I was right but now she’s being more strict with him. Surprise. My lips are sealed on this as I won’t be an “I told you so.”
Therapy concerning sex subject; as far as her being a gate keeper (she has not heard this term) I said that any counseling we have concerning sex infrequency and her childhood issues, my long period of joblessness etc would not solve nor remove my sexual frustration. I would still be sexually unfulfilled. Lack of sexual fulfillment in a marriage ultimately affects both of us. In later years, over time, as my need for sex decreased so that I did not need it every 3 days, I became patient but my desire to do things with her was becoming known. At first she attempted to put statistics on me; For instance, she said, “no-one at church is having sex anymore, some friends she knows have separate bedrooms and no one she knows sleeps nude (ever), shaves genital region, engages in OS, nor are any of them bothered by the absence of any of the above.” (Well, she didn’t interview me.)
Now, this statement about church couples sexual habits prompts more questions than answers. The reality is that only a select few have shared any details about sexual habits nor any hint at the husbands unhappiness that results from infrequent or boring sex habits and limitations. In other words, my wife has had few, if any conversations with the church ladies about sex. She was trying to convince me that my desire for sexual variety is so weird that I may as well forget it.
So back to counseling;
IF a therapist says for her to make sex better, more frequent or interesting, she would become more rebellious and the so called “gate,” would be locked more for a greater number of pathetic reasons AND she would criticize the therapist.
If the therapist says that I am in fact weird and that I should just suck it up and forget about sex and be nicer…Well… I would build a man-cave and put a combo lock on it and watch Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit repeatedly on my extra huge TV screen. I’d buy numerous man toys and spend a greater amount of time there. I would make no efforts towards divorce but I would be nice and do stuff for her but my efforts would have extreme limits. I may even put a bed/cot in my man cave.
Some folks need counseling but in our case we know what we need. I need to be reasonable for LM and creating an environment where she sees me being a loving guy and ignore her unreasonableness and that she is not intentional on torturing me with boring or infrequent sex. She needs to be available reasonably and not see me as a bad guy nor falsely accuse me disrespectfully.
Can we still benefit from counseling? Yeah but her time spent on Facebook and viewing so many opinions about so many things…
It is good if your wife is willing to work on her marriage.
I saw an article many years ago that showed that going to a counselor may not have had much of an impact on whether trouble marriages stay together. For me, the idea of going to a marriage counselor could be potentially dangerous. I wouldn’t go to an unbeliever for something like this. Even with believers, I’d want to find out the counselor’s world view, ideas about roles in marriage, ideas about the need for sex in marriage. _His Needs, Her Needs_ was written by someone in the marriage and family field, and he realized that sex was a real need in marriage. What if you get someone with a different philosophy? What if you go to a psychiatrist who is all about the individual and recommends divorce if individuals do not feel fulfilled?
With the high divorce rates in the church, I would be concerned that some of the ‘Christian counseling’ might go more with church culture than the scriptures. There was a show by Christian counselors on a radio station that I would sometimes catch just a few minutes of when I was running errands at night in one place i lived. I didn’t always get the full context, but the snippets I heard had the counselor on the air suggesting someone move out of the house with their husband. That’s emotionally abusive behavior he said. If your husband is doing X, you should consider moving out. This seemed unprofessional since the counselors were just listening to one side, and I can tell from my interactions with married couples that you can get a very skewed view if you listen to one side.
Someone can paint themselves as a victim, and then you see them interact, and the ‘victim’ is the one who is emotionally abusive. I’ve seen that before. It reminds me of the scenes in ‘American Beauty’, where a couple aren’t getting along. The man isn’t cruel to his wife that I recall, though he does do some immoral things, has immoral fantasies, and was plotting some immoral sex. But his wife was listening to tapes and telling herself, “I am not a victim.”– then at the end of the movie shoots her husband for no good reason. It’s an exaggeration, but the way married people perceive problems in their marriage can be skewed.
I can also see how my wife has interpreted our interactions when we argue, and they are completely different from my interpretation. She’s said she feels ‘oppressed’ and all kinds of stuff by me, but it has more to do with how she felt because of some major PMS hormone flareups than anything I did, IMO. At some point along the way, it dawned on her that I was not responsible for how she felt, nor was I the source of her emotions. That really helped a lot. She can get grumpy during PMS, but the emotional explosions are rare these days. I’m not sure it is because she has matured as a person or just because of aging.
When my wif e would get upset, sometimes she would suggest marriage counseling. One time I yelled at her way to loudly, freaking out when she suggested divorce after she got upset over basically nothing. So I did go to counseling with her with a pastor. I liked how the pastor handled it. He took a Biblical approach and basically calmed her down a bit. Within a few days, she read something kind i posted about her on Facebook before our argument, and responded warmly to it. The pastor saw that, and saw things were going better between us. She warmed up again and we go through it. That’s the only ‘marriage counseling’ we have done in a formal setting.
I think it is probably better to discuss marriage with older couples who have been married a long time.
I talked with a cross-cultural psychology professor of Indian descent. He said the whole field of this type of therapy and psychological counseling was virtually unheard of in Asia. There are a few counselors but it is not a huge industry. You see it a lot in individualistic societies. In his country, many relatives live in the same house. When a young newly married man comes home late, is father or uncle may tell him to come home and spend more time with his new bride. People in these situations in collectivist societies don’t have to go talk about their problems with professionals, since they have other people offering them (sometimes unsolicited) advice, peole they can discuss problems with.
I’ve seen in my wife’s people-group when a couple had a marriage problem, they gathered relatives together. I was a part of one such meeting. His mother was there. The husband and wife were my wife’s cousins and the husband was my ‘adopted’ brother. The couple ran a store out of their home. For some reason, they separated it into ‘my sales’ and ‘your sales.’ The husband would drive off for a long time and she didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t fulfill a gas delivery order. Much of the rest, including his suicide threats, were in another language besides indonesian, and I didn’t get what they were saying. He went to stay with his father-in-law/uncle for a while until they cooled down, and I think he went back to his wife. (They were cousins, I think.) People with marriage problems there appeal to in-laws to intercede with the husband or wife with whom they have a grievance. Parents have a lot of power in that culture. So if the husband hangs around with the boys drinking coconut wine, the wife can talk to his mom or dad about it, and they offer him some kind advice or give him a lecture or scolding about it.
The people-group is really anti-divorce, though I’ve got some in-laws on that side who have divorced. It is still much, much less than the incidence of divorce amongs my blood relatives in the US.
Was just scrolling through posts and saw this…
Your recent posting has indicated a much more enthusiastic wife in the MB. Could that be related to counseling, assuming you’ve had some sessions now?
Sorry for the inquiry, but I’m always so curious about how things turn out when no updates are given.
PPK, I’m glad to hear things are improving. I will mention this, yes, counseling can be expensive depending on where you go, where insurance will cover it or not, and their training/education, and expertise. On the other hand, it’s a lot cheaper than a divorce, both financially AND emotionally so if things don’t continue to head in the right direction, trust me, it’s worth the investment into your marriage!
PS – We’ve enjoyed the THE NAKED MARRIAGE book AND podcast by the Willis’ in our marriage too.