Marriage Counseling Shouldn't Be An Emergency Room Visit
Here It Is, My Plea For Your Marriage
The nature of talking about counseling is difficult for so many reasons. As the guy on the other side of the couch, I recognize the vulnerability of asking for help on many personal issues and have a great amount of respect for those who commit to the task of making positive change. Couple that vulnerability with the (unfortunate) stigma of "therapy" and it can be tough for people to seek the help they need. When you throw the issue of money on top of all of that, there's a lot of hesitation.
This leads many people, couples especially, to wait until dire times to seek out my assistance.
I'm always happy to help couples who are coming from this place -- it's an honor to be brought in to such a tough time to help out. That being said, waiting until you're bleeding out and in need of Emergency Room-Level care adds a lot of problems that are hard to work through.
By this point, couples are usually saying and doing things to damage one another. Resentments are being built up, feelings are being slashed and weaknesses are being picked on. Often times, the kids become pawns in the couples' game and worse, they become damaged themselves by being a part of these dark encounters. I can't imagine that this seems like the optimal time to START getting help to anyone, yet most people wait until then.
It is very much in line with the Western philosophy of "waiting until something is broken or obviously wrong to fix it". It is very much related to the worldview we're trained to have -- that "bad" is to be tended to and everything else can remain less important.
But there's another school of thought out there and it's about balance; it's about preventative care; it's about "wellness" rather than "illness". I would so much rather help you from this perspective -- to make myself more clear, let me paint a scenario of two couples.
Couple A have been married ten years, have two kids and both work. When they came into my office they hated each other. They regularly yelled, screamed, threw things, and occasionally got a little physical. They had been building resentments for at least five of those years and unhappy for an additional one or two.
"That's not us", you're saying to yourself right now. "We'll never get that bad". I hope you're right but no couple ever thinks that they're THAT couple.
Couple A start their work in couples counseling by trying to prove one another wrong. They operate from a place of hatred, hurt and anger toward one another. As you can imagine, that's a big hurdle to work through before we get to all of the warm and fuzzy, feel-good "I Love You's". Trying to see one another's perspective while showing your vulnerabilities is very hard in this situation. Why would you want to make yourself MORE at risk for hurt during this state of your relationship?
Couple B have also been married ten years, have two kids and both work. When they show up in my office, they are tense and a little hesitant around one another. The problems really only started two years ago. Miscommunication, lack of intimacy, a sense that the other doesn't understand -- pretty standard marital difficulty. When I ask them how they feel about one another, they're easily able to say, "I love them". As you'd imagine, it's a lot easier to clear up the dust and get to the warm fuzzy stuff from this perspective.
So here it is, my plea for your marriage. Please come and see me before we get to "Bullet Wound, Lost a Limb, Need an Airlift" status. It's better for you in the long run and heck, it's cheaper emotionally, financially, for your family and even health-wise. Please, please, please. I want nothing but for you to be happy and healthy as quickly as possible -- help me help you.