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?