If you bring up counseling to the average man, married or not, you may get quite the reaction. My husband especially. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bring it up anymore. Before we got married, I begged for pre-marital counseling, and he consistently and flatly refused. He said he didn’t believe in it. “What is someone who doesn’t know me or you going to tell us about us?” He didn’t get it. That was the point. Talking to someone with no bias and nothing invested in us succeeding or failing could be just what we needed. So we didn’t go.
Fast forward, we’ve been married for a year and a half, and counseling is still not an option in his mind. I still believe we could really benefit from it, especially with our lines of communication constantly breaking down. “You don’t get it.” “You don’t understand me.” “That’s not what I meant.” Those lines come up just about every other week, despite our efforts to communicate efficiently.
So what gives? What is it about counseling that turns people, mainly men, off? I have been going to counseling for a few years, and I believe it has benefited me. There have been periods where I stop going, because I have overcome one problem, but have found myself back because of other things. My most recent return to counseling stemmed from the unimaginable stress I was going through, which includes issues in my marriage. I find it therapeutic to have someone who will let me vent without obviously judging me, and giving me critical thinking questions that help me come to my own conclusions.
I think that counseling gets a bad rep because people simply don’t understand it. Counseling is not just for “crazy people”. It does not automatically lead to a prescription of Prozac. It’s not about laying on chaise lounges and being hypnotized. The stereotypes of counseling are so far off. I think couple’s counseling is very important, whether it’s before or during your marriage. It helps to have a professional support the two of you, especially if this is both of your first marriage. Neither one of you (us) knows what to do or where to begin.
Counseling is pretty taboo in black communities in general, but definitely among men, which is absolutely frustrating. Just the mention of it makes Terrance tense and immediately put on his “husband ears” which conveniently tune me out. Even as we’ve been on the verge of calling it quits, he still doesn’t think we would benefit from it. I beg to differ. And of course you can’t go into it with your mind already made up that it’s not going to work. Because then it’s not going to work.
Couple’s counseling, whether conducted by a pastor or a licensed therapist, could help so many marriages, especially ones that are coming apart at the seams. Obviously, it’s not fool proof. No counselor has a 100% success rate (meaning the couple didn’t file for divorce). Counseling can also help you see that the marriage is not productive and really isn’t working and perhaps beyond repair. Even in that case, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
At one point, I was really focused on becoming a marriage counselor, because I think more marriages can survive with the help of a professional. For now, that dream is on hold indefinitely, mainly because, hell, I don’t even know how to make this marriage work haha. Not to say I couldn’t learn techniques and tips and everything in school, but I would hate to bring my bias and views into another person’s marriage, and possibly be responsible for them not making it.
What do you think of marriage counseling? Do you think it’s necessary or could be skipped?
Counseling can benefit everyone in some way. No individual automatically understands how to have a successful relationship. We all come with baggage, sin and most of us
come from broken homes. I wish we were offered a relationship class the way we are offered a high school driving class.
I definitely feel counseling can assist in repairing communication. It can be difficult to see one’s own faults and areas for improvement. In one’s mind you will always be right. That’s why having an unbiased third party to assist you in improving is imperative.
It is a lot easier for women to get help when needed than it is for men. Part of me wonders if your husband understands marital counseling, what it can offer to the both of you and part of me doubts that he’s ever experienced counseling (based on the phrase “What is someone who doesn’t know me or you going to tell us about us?”).
Have you gone into depth as to what he should expect to experience? I mean every detail;
how you two would set goals with the therapist, how frequently you’d meet, the relaxed environment, non-judgmental conversations, and etc. If not, this might help him look
at counseling in a more positive light. Most individuals base their idea of counseling from what they’ve heard and what they’d like to believe.
Or perhaps to him going to counseling is a way of admitting weakness?…. I don’t know.
Perhaps you should try going by yourself. Marriage counseling or relationship
counseling can be very helpful even if your partner doesn’t want to come.
“At the University of Denver, unpublished results from a five-year longitudinal study of 300 long-term couples suggest that a month or so after receiving relationship-skills training, those who got it as individuals saw as much improvement in their relationships as those who got the training as a couple. A year and a half after the training, the Denver researchers found that couples where the women attended sessions alone
reported being happier than couples where the men attended alone.”
You may well find that as you work on yourself, your husband will start to change as well. “As water reflects a person’s face, so does the heart of one person reflect another” (Proverbs 27:19).
Just a side note.
Do you and your husband have daily/weekly prayer together?
Or take time to read a devotional and have worship/bible study together?
Not sure why the link comes up as broken but… http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263303967929424.html
I totally believe in it- BUT both people have to ready to talk openly and commit to change. That is the hard part. My husband and I had been to two counselors and it didn’t really help our relationship. Then, a line was crossed in how he was communicating with a female friend at work (kept it from me) and I was ready to leave him. He wanted me to stay, proved to me nothing physical was going on, and found a counselor for us. Now we are working through very deep issues in our relationship and our relationships with our families. I believe we will come out stronger with the help of our therapist. PS Don’t give up on your dream of becoming a marriage counselor! Therapists are NOT people with all the answers or perfect relationships themselves, no one is like that. If a therapist THINKS they are perfect, run in the other direction. Rather they are meant to be educated in the ways to help people work through issues and be supportive to change, if their clients want it!
This is a great post. I have a friend who has been dating a guy for 3 years and they just started going to counseling because she wants to move in together and he doesn’t. My parents went to marriage counseling after they seperated but before they divorced, I think the counseling can be helpful for communication but it is not going to fix a relationship.
We did counseling this yr. My husband is in the military and reintegration took its toll on us. Youre right about there being a stigma but it honestly was great. Were ins such a great place. Now. We’ll have been married 5 yrs in June. Also check out the 5 love languages as well that book was also an awesome help. Good luck!