Post # 1
Weddingbee is a fantastic place to give and receive advice on challenging situations. At any given time, there are several “emotional” type threads and I’ve noticed recently that the default advice tends to be “go to counseling/therapy.” I’ve given similar advice myself.
However, I was thinking about my own experience as a divorced bee and was curious to hear other’s perspective on how effective therapy is. We went through both premarital counseling and marriage counseling. Premarital revealed some issues (which I, being young and silly, ignored). But honestly, marriage counseling felt like a tool for facilitating an amicable divorce more than anything. I don’t think my experience was necessarily typical though.
So I guess my question is, what was your experience with therapy/counseling? Is it really the magic bullet that we sometimes treat it as?
Post # 3
Anything related to a couple will only work as long as both of the partners are on board and truly willing to put efforts into the relationship. It’s not the therapy itself that make it successful, it’s the individuals who are doing it. It’s the same if you go solo for a personal issue. If you’re really willing to change, your therapy or counseling is more likely to be successful. If you go 2 times and feel ”bleh” about the whole process, chances are you won’t change anything and won’t resolve your issues. I really don’t see it as a magic remedy, but rather as a process which will give you tools to be better at communication and maybe know yourself and the other better through the help of a mediator (the therapist/counselor). It’s also more challenging than reading a book because a book can’t confront you.
Post # 4
+1000…I was going to type the exact same thing!
Post # 5
I don’t have experience with couples therapy but I would guess that the effectiveness would depend on your luck, much like finding any kind of good “doctor”. If you find one that you click with and uses a method that resonates with you and your partner, it will work. If not, it won’t. And if you find a competent doctor who can’t find an effective course of action for you, or if the problems are just too big, I guess it becomes a lead-in to an amicable divorce.
I’ve tried individual counselling and it just wasn’t for me…but I think that it’s a good option when a person and/or their partner feel that their problem is beyond what they can handle and need help from someone else to put things into perspective.
Post # 6
I don’t think people recomend it as a magic bullet that will “fix” the issue, instead I think that many bees (rightly) see that the issue is complicated enough to need the help of a professional. For example, I think this is often the case in “should I stay or should I go” posts or “can I make him change” posts. Sometimes that issues aren’t so severe that it’s obvious you should run, but they should be taken seriously with the help of someone with training.
Of course, I personally have no experience with counceling of any kind. And if it were me, I’d start with a self help book, becasue I’m a dork (and cheap) like that.
Post # 7
@spezia: I am not married yet, but my FI (then SO) and I went to therapy, as a couple and individually to navigate thru some personal and relationship rough patches we had hit along the way. As another PP stated, it worked for us because we were both invested to it 100%. We did not go to see if we were going to stay together, or break up (which a lot of people do), but to find ways to better ourselves or our relationship. It required honesty, communication, and an understanding of what each wanted or needed. We did not go into it trying to fix the other person, or mold them to be one way or the other, but to become the best versions of ourselves.
Although we are not actively seeking therapy now, we talk about going back for a refresher course months before our marriage begins. Even though we are the happiest we have ever been together, and believe will continue to be. I do not think therapy needs to be doom and gloom, but used as an effective tool to get unbiased and professional pointers on continued success!
Post # 8
@ChicFoodist: I think this is true (as well as PPs comments about being invested in the therapy). I think we were both invested, but our doctor did a great job pointing out issues but not really working through them to solutions. At some point, it sounded like he was pretty much pushing us to get divorced. I’m happy we did to be honest, but should therapists do that?
It seems like you need the trifecta of emotional investment, quality doctor and of course money to find some success with it.
Post # 9
I did therapy with an ex boyfriend years ago. I felt optimistic about it working. Ultimately, it didn’t work because he wasn’t really invested in it and didn’t take it seriously. We went to two sessions and he gave short, snarky responses both times. I think it could have helped us a lot had we both gone in with open minds and gave it an honest try.
However, that’s hard… you can’t force your partner to take it seriously if they think therapy sounds like a load of BS. That’s the overwhelming thing I’ve heard about therapy… that it’s great, and can be EXTRAORDINARILY helpful, but especially when you’re fighting a lot, partners can be very resistant to going to therapy because they don’t think it’s for people like them.
My fiancé and I have both agreed, prior to being married, that therapy IS an option if things ever get rough between us, and that we’ll go into it with open minds and give it an honest effort. It was a requirement for me, that as long as things are going well between us and we are optimistic, we talk about what happens if and when that’s not the case.
Post # 10
I think it really depends on the couple and what you take away from it. So many different factors can make and break it… like if you connect with your counselor or not.
Never done couples counseling and I do sometimes suggest it because some issues just seem too big to be handled without some professional intervention.
Post # 11
@spezia: Therapy really helped DH and me because we had commitment and good communication skills already; we just needed an expert’s help for alcohol matters specifically. I think you have to pick your therapist based on a specific goal with a mindset toward coming up with a “plan” for how you’re going to fix it.
It might also work to just go in and “wing it” – to say you’re not happy and work it out that way. But in the end, DH and I are happy that we talked together beforehand for many weeks to boil it down to the “core issues,” because we were much more productive in therapy that way.
Post # 12
DH and I did pre-marital counseling, and it was really useful! We were on the same page about the big stuff (kids, money, religion, etc.), but the counselor had some great ideas (like that while we have joint finances and I’m a SAHM, I should have a “discretionary fund” so that if I want a pair of shoes, I don’t have to feel like a child asking Daddy for money or surprise him with the charge on his card)
Post # 13
Both people need to be invested,
but you also need to take your time and find a therapist that works for both of you. You both need to respect the therapist, feel comfortable with them, and relate to them.
A ill-matched therapist can stunt the process in my opinion.
Post # 14
@spezia: It was an amazing experience for us!
About three years into our marriage, we had just run off the road and were up to our eyeballs in the weeds…there was resentment, anger, hurt, a total breakdown of trust and basically, the two of us weren’t living together, we just occupied the same cage is all….
I was bracing myself for the inevitable when I got a phone call from my husband while I was driving to work, he said, “We’re losing each other, and I don’t want that.”
I admitted that I didn’t either and told him to find a therapist that he felt comfortable with and make an appoiontment…he had it set before I could even get to my office!
I think finding a therapist that works for the COUPLE is essential, as well as both parties being ready to work, own their shit and fix it…which we were.
2014 marks our 6th anniversary and we’re better than we ever were! But none of that would have mattered if the two of us weren’t committed to solving the problems.
Post # 15
I don’t have personal experience (at least not yet) but my parents attended counseling together in the late 80s/early 90s and it saved their marriage. They were on the brink of divorce back then and just recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary. So I think it can work, depending on how committed both husband and wife are to making things work.
Post # 16
We did couples for a bit, I thought it was useless and DH thought it helped. So I didn’t vote. We were both committed to it, but the therapist just wasn’t the right fit for us. He basically just sat there and stared at us. I’ve been in individual therapy where there was a conversation and it flowed more naturally, but that’s just not how this guy worked. So my issue wasn’t with therapy, and I’d be open to doing it again, but with a different therapist. I think DH thinks going made him more accountable, and that’s why it helped (he’s also not a fan of the therapist). We also just happened to read the Love Languages book while we were in therapy (not on the therapist’s recommendation, I actually think I picked it up after seeing so much talk about the book here on WB), and we had several breakthroughs from reading that book.