I have been married for 21 years. Things are fine, but not great. My wife would like us to start seeing a therapist, but I am not keen on letting a stranger, a professional stranger, weigh in on our marriage. What are your thoughts about this?
This is a tricky question. Vague makes things difficult to answer. Has this just started or has your relationship with your wife been suffering for some time?
Have you become more roommates than husband and wife?
Either way, when your partner asks to communicate with someone outside your marriage-such as a therapist-about your marriage, there is a definite issue that needs to be bolded, highlighted, and researched.
Therapy is not for everyone.
I’ll be honest, I’m not pro therapy. However, I have been there and done that. While it is not for me, I do believe that it can help some types of people that are in certain types of relationships. If you are open minded, willing to work hard, and can stomach some profound criticism, then maybe it could help you and your partner. Just like most things, you will only get out what you put it.
There should be no shame or stigma associated with seeking help through therapy. Sometimes taking the time to speak with someone who is completely objective can be extremely helpful both individually and as a couple. You must assume of course that your therapist is an objective professional that does not let their personal or professional past interfere with the analysis of your distinct situation. So, getting the “right” therapist can make or break the experience.
What therapy can most certainly improve, regardless of the actual therapist, is how you communicate with each other.
A fresh start to how and why you speak to each other is mighty. Listen to their feelings. Feel their emotions. Recognize their anxiety. Learn what they feel is missing from your marriage. And you do the same.
Remember when you first met? Do you remember what the conversations were like? How you paid attention to every word uttered by the other. How every sentence held great meaning…that is where you need to get back to.
You need to get back to listening and caring about what the other person is saying.
You are a team, never forget this. Never stop working together. As odd as it may seem, working together as a team means strengthening yourself and taking care of your own needs. A marriage, just like any team, is only as strong as the weakest link.
Therapy is not a cure all.
Therapy is not a guaranteed solution or an instant fix, and will probably make things worse for a while. Hopefully, you work on things together and there is a mutual level of effort being put into making any suggested changes, especially how you talk to each other. If your partner is not putting in the work, you may have to consider that they may not care enough to work on themselves. Which brings to light a lot more questions. Such as: “if they won’t try, should I still be here?”
There are a lot of opinions on couple’s therapy. Finding a therapist that you both trust and feel comfortable with is where to start. Your opinion on the therapist can change throughout your meetings, in which case a change may be needed.
Just remember, work hard on your marriage. Communicate openly and honestly with each other.
Be respectful. Be understanding.
If the relationship is worth it, make it happen.