J and I had been married for just over 7 years last November when she brought up counseling for the second time. She had brought it up once before in our second year, but I had been resistant then, and she didn't push it. About two weeks before she suggested counseling the second time, we had had some discussions that made it clear that something serious was wrong. So when she suggested counseling this second time, I agreed it was time to seek outside help.

Trouble had been brewing in the background for some time. Both of us tend to avoid conflict so we didn't confront some (any) of the lingering problems we were having. This is a recipe for disappointment and resentment. For my part, I wasn't holding back feelings of "when you do X it makes me mad/sad". It was more a feeling of numbness and incompleteness had crept into our relationship. I can admit now that I was depressed. I felt shame, pulled away, and walled off parts of myself. I was suffering, but I didn't realize how heavily it weighed on J and our marriage.

We started counseling in the middle of December. Not knowing who would be best to step in to help, we went to a counselor based on a recommendation. I will call her Linda. Linda suggested we start with four initial sessions and then see where we wanted to go from there. We met once as a couple, then we each had a separate session with Linda, then had one more joint session.

We drove separately to our first joint appointment. Not the best start, but it was a morning appointment and J would be continuing on to work afterwards. We were in the midst of last year's cold snap, and the roads were a bit treacherous. I was following, and the route J had chosen had me concerned as there was a hill that was likely icy. I tried calling her, but she did not answer. I flashed my lights and put on my turn signal to take a right at the next light. She ended up pulling over, and when I rolled down my passenger window to explain my concern, the window shattered. Apparently the top had frozen to the seal and once the motor tugged it down, the window became thousands of tiny safety glass pebbles. I tried to ignore the symbolic omen.

Our first session was largely meet and greet and giving the Clif notes version of why we were there. J had her solo session first a week later. I don't remember much of the details of my solo session with Linda. I'm sure she asked about my viewpoint on our marriage, what our problems were, what my complaints might be. I remember shouldering much of the blame for what had become of our relationship. I'm sure she asked me for specific complaints about J, but I doubt I had much to say. It wasn't her I was dissatisfied with - it was what our relationship and marriage had become. I expressed determination to do whatever it took to save our marriage. I still had a great deal of hope for us.

The one thing I do remember clearly is that towards the end of the session Linda said it was much worse than I knew. Tears welled up and I said something like "sweet" half under my breath. She asked if I was being sarcastic. I don't know if she was being intentionally dense, but when I told her yes it was sarcasm, she didn't follow up with any sort of point she was trying to make. Things she said and did would continue to baffle me in the future. We were off to a rocky start all around.


Holly Linden said...

I just discovered this blog. Read all of your posts in one sitting. My heart just aches.
I love you both always.

matt said...

We love you guys so much and I really appreciate you sharing your story with us. I know you don't have to share all this but it really helps us to understand what you guys went through / are going through.

Wish we didn't live so far away!

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