So many couples start off counseling as a “last ditch effort.” The marriage has gotten so tangled in anger, resentment, and disconnect the only energy the couple has left is come and sit on the couch and vent their frustrations of one another to me. Several of the people sitting on the couch have all but for the most part made up their minds, that they are done. They just want to be able to say “I went to marriage counseling,” in the future to not be shamed for having given up to quickly in the marriage. Husbands and wives siting on the couch looking at me to validate how much of a jerk their husband is, or how critical and overbearing a wife they have. The validation they are looking for would almost give them permission to leave and move on. If others (especially our marriage counselor) could see how awful my spouse is, and how hard it is to be in this marriage, then I can move on and say, “I tried everything I could.”
People may be quite surprised when they first show up on my couch and I do not validate the angry verbal slashing that goes on between partners. Yes, I understand marriage can be an EXTREMELY painful place and our partners can hurt us in ways that no one else can. But, guess what? You are in this marriage for a reason. Your partner is trying to tell you something (even though the way they are delivered can really hurt)!
The one thing I know for certain after working with hundreds of couples is that the best thing for you is to hear your message in this marriage! If you do not discover what your marriage is trying to teach you; you are going to hear the same message in the next marriage, and maybe even another and another. If you think it is painful the first time, keep repeating it.
Marriage is more than the lovey, dovey romantic version that you see on the H allmark channel.