Q: My wife and I have been in two different marriage counselors during our eight years together.
A therapist, woman, knew my wife's close friend. I felt it was a setup against me and would not go back.
Next time I chose a man. My wife went out with a midsession, sure he already thought we should divorce.
We smoothed ourselves for a while. But we are fighting a lot again.
Can the couple's counseling ever really save a marriage?
ONE: Yes, if both spouses are obliged to learn and compromise.
Otherwise, you are stuck in resistance, each thinks you are right and your partner is wrong.
Meanwhile, you will start buying a car by studying what's out there, checking out a few, compromising on what's important or not and weighing the cost.
It's a similar process to get counseling started: Research what's out there.
A current short-term approach is emotion-focused therapy (EFT), which is at the heart of what each partner feels to try to rebuild trust. (This can be crucial when there is distancing, guilt and anger.)
Another is the Gottman method (founder John Gottman) – an assessment of the couple's relationship and research showing that unless they work to counteract cases of negativity, couples are growing emotionally.
It takes little time to conduct an online search to familiarize yourself with these introductory terms and intentions.
Next, it is like joining a gym – comparing different fitness concepts, places and costs. Many pay $ 150 a month for physical improvements. Relationship quality is worth investing in.
Next, check out lists of professionally registered therapists, call some to ask about their methodology, fees and short-term (usually six to eight sessions and most popular today) or long-term.
Community agencies, e.g. Family benefits offer an income tax (so longer waiting lists), like some pastoral counselors through a community of faith. Otherwise, prices generally range from $ 125 to $ 250 an hour.
The search will find your therapist. Order an appointment together and come up.
The counselor knows neither of you. So speak up. Whether you start with a self-description or what you feel happens in your relationship, it is putting the process in motion.
I strongly recommend not explaining with blame what your partner does "wrong".
Also give a counselor another try unless you both feel that this person will never be the one who can help you.
You are not there to become friends with the counselor. He / she has information that can provide insight, new understandings, better communication, empathy and even hope. That's what you want and it's worth doing.
Still, you have the right to "shop" for a couple of counselors who are acceptable to both of you.
The time / money you spend once or twice on someone you decide against is still important to the process. You've finally heard what your spouse brings to that discussion. You acknowledged your own stubbornness or self-righteousness about your part in the relationship.
You now see how important it is to continue and become the leaders of your marriage therapy process, and not just passive, reticent observers.
For emotional therapy, read How can I get through to you by Terrence Real. For Gottman's system, The seven principles of authenticity, by John Gottman and Nan Silver. Some therapists have their own altered or unique approaches.
The ultimate goal of a registered Toronto-based psychotherapist: "A couple who initiate counseling will wisely seek self-awareness.
"Finding their ability to be cooperative, authentic and friendly can give them humility and humor to connect differently in a relationship."
Ellie's tip of the day
Couple counseling can succeed when both commit to it.
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Ellie Tesher is a star advisor based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected]