She starts out by stating, “If you want to save your marriage, for the love of God, don’t go to marriage counseling.”
We obviously have something to say to that! Do we agree? No and Yes. Since our own approach is an alternative to traditional marriage counseling, it would be tempting to tout our own horn and declare, Yeah, that’s right, marriage counseling sucks!
It’s not as clear-cut as that, by any means. But LD’s article does provide an excellent springboard for taking a sober look at marriage counseling, and for what you should consider before you choose what type of relationship help to seek out.
We’ll go through her 6 reasons, and tell you if we agree or not.
#1: Calling your spouse a loser.
LD says: The very act of saying to your husband you need marriage counseling is tantamount to calling him a failure and criticizing him.
Do we agree? Not at all. Although a request (or demand) for seeking counseling certainly can be phrased as criticism, and often will be taken as criticism, it is also true that seeking help is an awesome first step in marriage recovery. In a strained marriage, no improvement will ever happen without reaching out for help. And if marriage counseling is what you know to do, it’s ten times better than doing nothing.
#2: Some marriage counselors are failures.
LD says, “Some marriage counselors aren’t married. Others are divorced twice or unhappily married.” And, “If your marriage counselor doesn’t have the kind of relationship you want, she simply can’t tell you how to get it.”
Do we agree? Certainly, every trade has its true experts and frauds, but to disqualify a counselor because he or she has experienced divorce is a total miss. Sometimes having been through divorce is exactly why the counselor can know what YOU are going through. And sometimes divorce has been the greatest learning curve for the counselor, who (potentially) will be able to guide you through near-divorce or second marriage.
We do agree that its wise to seek out counselors, or mentors in general, who have created the kind of relationship you want to have. You want them the KNOW, not just to know ABOUT.
#3: Counseling is basically complaining.
Do we agree? Yes, to a large extent this is an excellent point. Often, couples come to us after they’ve tried traditional marriage counseling or therapy, and they’ve gotten sick of “talking about their problems” and venting on each other.
It may seem counter intuitive, but the more you talk about your problems, the bigger they get. If you try, as some counseling does, to get “to the bottom” of every one of your relationship problems, you’ll very often drown in a sea of bad feelings.
In our relationship approach, we don’t spend too much time on your problems, other than as a stepping stone to the relationship vision you hold, and then we aim to get you more intimacy and connection fast.
And in fairness, if you have a great counselor, they won’t let your session turn into complaining parties.
Finally, LD makes an important point: Try instead to deliver three appreciations of your spouse every day. (We recommend at least three before you go to sleep). That is highly effective medicine!
#4: Counseling is hideout for hypocrites.
Do we agree? Yes, there is much truth to this. In the sense that many people who agree to go to counseling with their spouse, really go for the purpose of “fixing” their partner. More couples than we can count come to us with the hope that we’ll finally make their spouse “get it”.
That never works!
However, we wouldn’t call anyone a “hypocrite” for that reason. More often, you simply don’t realize your own impact and responsibility in having created the relationship you have. Ignorance does not a hypocrite make.
#5: Men are not big hairy women.
Do we agree? Well, it’d be hard not to! LD is talking about the common misconception many women have about their men: That they should be like women. They should process feelings like women do. They should want to talk about relationship as much as women do. Chances are, men won’t do that, or can’t do that. Not because they’re bad partners, but because they simply don’t think like that. Women think like that.
She goes on to say, “Chances are good that you married an imperfect man who’s perfect for you.” Now that we agree wholeheartedly with! And if you can’t see WHY this man is perfect for you, please come join us in one of workshops or in person.
We make the claim, that you are always a perfect match to your relationship as it is right now! Even if it makes you cringe.
#6: It’s an expensive way to control your spouse.
Do we agree? Yes and no. Marriage counseling or therapy can go on for years, and that definitely adds up! And if the expense of counseling happens instead of, as LD says, spending money on really nurturing yourself, that can be a real problem. And if your intention (secretly) is controlling your spouse or getting them to “get it”, it’s a total waste of money.
But money you spend on seeking out qualified help with a real desire to improve your marriage is never wasted. In fact, it could very well be the most important money you’ll spend your whole life. If you get the proper relationship help, it could mean the difference between living happily ever after, and divorce. And whatever you pay for professional relationship help is going to be cheaper than divorce, for sure!
In conclusion, we’d say that traditional counseling does indeed often turn into “problem parties” where you talk yourself to death and your problems just get bigger and bigger instead of being solved.
AND … when you notice your relationship is failing and your love is fading, you should absolutely get help! Don’t wait till you’re so resentful and hurt you can hardly be in the same room as your spouse. Don’t argue for years first. If you fight about the same things over and over again, it just means you don’t have an effective method to deal with your differences. Go learn it.
We all have this unrealistic expectation that we should be great at relationship without help or training. You wouldn’t expect yourself to be a great nurse or lawyer or engineer without focused and ongoing education. Relationship is no different. Find people you admire, and who are creating a wonderful relationship, and learn from them.