Before I got married, I had plenty of preconceived ideas about marriage counseling that would soon be overturned. I wrongly assumed that marriage counseling was for couples on the brink of divorce, or that those with inadequate problem solving skills were the only ones who needed advice from a third party. I can’t say I thought too much about the issue as single woman whose family never utilized a counselor even though we definitely could’ve benefited from it.
During our third year of marriage, all of that changed.
The first and second year most of our explosive arguments could be attributed to the fact that one of us was being stubborn, mean or something else. Most of the time, they resulted in an apology from one or both parties, and once the emotions died down, we were able to sort out the actual issue. Sidenote: isn’t it funny how many hours we spend fighting about things that aren’t actually the issue? I say funny, what I really mean is wth is that about? Anyways… One of the biggest reasons we got married in the first place was that we see the world similarly, so our views on fundamental issues usually aligned after we had a thorough discussion.
But one day we had an argument that wasn’t so emotional, a disagreement that was more objective. We both made valid cases, but we were having an impossible time finding common ground. We sat and looked at each other not totally sure of what to do. Either party could apologize for how they made the other feel, and I think we did, but the issue remained.
How could we both be right? And what are we supposed to do if there’s no right answer?
Two of my older brothers mentioned marriage counseling before, and since they’ve been my lifelong measuring stick for what’s acceptable, what works, and what’s cool, I figured going to see a marriage counselor might be the right choice. One of them even goes regularly as a more preventative measure, an unusually practical perspective that seems to me somewhere between over-the-top and brilliant, two qualities he’s had all of his life.
Z and I agreed that it was time to try marriage counseling, and over the next few months, he asked around to be sure that we found someone good. The counselor we found came highly recommended, we even went on a waiting list to see her, but she was well worth the wait. Once we got on her schedule, we saw her once or twice a month. I found it fascinating that we went in to discuss marriage issues, but if they went deeper than the surface, she helped us dig into our pasts to see a clearer picture of what was going on. Like I mentioned before, I had never seen a counselor before, but our sessions made me feel understood and empowered. Some days our discussions felt uncomfortably families, and others I felt like I was getting to know myself for the first time.
Deciding to go to marriage counseling is one of the best decisions we’ve made in our three years together.
So if you’re newlyweds encountering the same issues over and over again or you simply need another perspective, it’s ok to get help. New marriage isn’t an easy adjustment, and if you’re experiencing a little wedshock, you’re in good company. It’s normal to feel hesitant about getting a third party involved, but keep in mind that a marriage counselor offers wisdom and insight that we simply don’t have access to. It isn’t a sign of failure or weakness, it’s a tool to help us create healthier marriages.