When I found myself in a hard place in my marriage, I did what people who are having trouble in their marriages do. I tried to fix it.
I drug my husband to marriage counseling.
Does traditional marriage counseling help?
In some cases, I’m sure it does. In my case, it didn’t.
Week after week, I stormed into the counselor’s office, plopped down at my end of the sofa and complained about what my husband was doing was wrong.
I spent the first 40 minutes grumbling.
The counselor listened. Sometimes he even agreed. When our 50 minutes was up, he’d say, “See you next week.”
Counseling gave me an outlet to complain
We weren’t making progress, but I looked forward to going every week. It gave me an outlet to complain.
I felt better after each session, but counseling was actually harming my marriage.
But we kept going because I didn’t know what else to do.
Some marriage counseling is helpful, but I discovered it did more harm than good in my case . Our therapy focused on the problems not the solutions. It didn’t give me tools to build the kind of marriage I wanted.
Traditional marriage counseling could have the same effect on your marriage, too.
How do you know if counseling is harming your marriage?
1. The therapist is the focus of the therapy.
Some days I felt like our therapist should’ve paid us. We spent our time either listening to his problems or how he’d come up with brilliant solutions to solve them. When your therapist talks about his/her own problems more than he listens to you, it’s a pretty good sign you should move on.
2. Therapy is problem focused and not solution driven.
Therapy kept me focused on the problems. Every week, I told the counselor all the things my husband did that bugged me. I felt great but my husband probably felt worse. We never talked about solutions or ways to do marriage differently. Once I learned to stop focusing on the problems, I was able to focus on the great guy I had.
3. Therapy gives you a place to complain.
I looked forward to going to therapy every week. I felt like I had a sympathetic ear in my therapist. I already thought my husband was the problem and now I had somewhere to go and “let it all out” once a week. I became even more critical and disrespectful because my counselor agreed with me. Complaining draws your attention to more things to complain about.
4. Therapy only looks to the past not the future.
Our therapist was focused on our pasts. Figuring out the past is helpful. Once you figure it out, you need a plan to forward. You can’t move forward, if you’re continually looking back.5. Your therapist is critical of your spouse.
The day my therapist criticized my husband, I knew it was time to go. Our therapist had agreed with me on many of my complaints and often suggested ways my husband should change. He encouraged me to continue doing marriage as I had been, which was making me more miserable.
We were spending money and my marriage was still falling apart.
Not all marriage intervention is created equal. If you’re going to counseling week after week and you’re still miserable, it may be time to look for a new solution.
Before jumping ship on your counselor, tell him/her how you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to tell him you’re not satisfied.
Traditional marriage counseling is not the only way to fix a marriage. Once I discovered effective tools and developed skills, I took my marriage to a new level.
Is marriage counseling helping or hurting your marriage?
Need skills to build intimacy?
- Get on the waitlist for my next group coaching session–Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
- Visit my website, like my Facebook page and join my private Facebook group.
- Check out my FREE resources and download “How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave” Challenge!
- Apply for private coaching with Sheila.
Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.
In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.