My marriage had reached a dead end, and we were in trouble. Even now, it bothers me to write those words, but it was a FACT. I still loved my wife, but I didn’t like who WE had become.
The Signs Were There That Our Marriage Needed Help
We had been living in denial for a while, but the truth was, we just weren’t happy. Over the course of 11 years, so much had changed:
- We never really TALKED anymore
- We didn’t spend quality TIME together
- We were pursuing SEPARATE agendas
- We ARGUED over petty things
- Our SEX life was non-existent
I’m lucky that my wife still cared enough to bring up the idea of couples counseling. One night, she told me that she had been looking into a local program in Glendale – not far from our home in Phoenix, Arizona – that offered relationship therapy. At this point, I was ready to try anything, so I agreed.
My Wife and I Begin Couples Counseling
I’ll admit that I was apprehensive when we attended our first session. I didn’t know what to expect and I dreaded the idea of simply rehashing every old argument and airing our dirty laundry to a total stranger.
But when we met our counselor, she surprised me with a very simple question – “What are some goals you want to achieve with relationship therapy?”
I wanted to save my marriage. Wasn’t that why we were here?
It was explained to the two of us that a troubled marriage was merely a resultant symptom, because the root of our problems really lay elsewhere – poor communication, divergent goals, or issues with intimacy, for example.
That made a lot of sense to me, because what I missed most was how my wife and I used to talk for hours – about everything. It occurred to me that I couldn’t remember the last time we had just sat down and had a meaningful conversation.
The therapist explained that she would be working with us every step of the way as we tried different approved approaches that would help us REESTABLISH our marriage as a priority, REPAIR any damage our behaviors may have inadvertently caused, and RECONNECT as a couple.
She stressed two things –
FIRST, it was going to be a process that would require a lot of patience on our part. We hadn’t arrived at this point overnight, and it was going to take some time to get back to where we wanted to be.
SECOND, it was going to require real work on our parts, because our marriage was the most important relationship either of us would ever have with another person, and something that valuable was worth the effort to maintain it.
And then she smiled, and said that we had already done the hardest part, just by showing up.
What I Learned From Couples Counseling
Over the next several sessions in Glendale, our therapist guided us through different therapies designed to identify our biggest issues, so we could start focusing on solutions. Sometimes, there was even homework.
- Emotional therapy – We learned how to honestly express our real emotions and needs to each other WITHOUT resorting to negativity like blaming, arguing, or shutting down.
- Behavioral therapy – We worked on breaking bad habits and dysfunctional ways of thinking that contributed to our marital problems.
- Mindfulness therapy –This was especially helpful to me. I learned how to be more “emotionally present” at any given time. During positive moments, I could be more aware and appreciative. During negative moments, I got better at separating what was REALLY bothering me from my own fear-fueled assumptions and insecurities.
One common theme that ran through each type of therapy was the need for better communication – open sharing of our feelings, “active” listening, and “fair” fighting that focused on resolving the conflict, rather than extending the argument.
I have to say that all of the sharing and communication helped my wife and I rediscover the love for each other that we had never lost – we had only buried it under too many bad habits. We are now closer than we have ever been.
We owe it all to Empowerment Treatment & Counseling.