Inviting a stranger to the table

I was initially hesitant toward counseling. It was going to be odd sensation to be discussing our failings with someone in the corner taking notes. I am not comfortable talking about myself in general, and I wasn't looking forward to shining a spotlight on the things I felt shame about.

People go to counselors for many reasons. At its core, you have a neutral third party in the room. Couples that argue often may need a third person to act like a referee. Many other couples need an interpreter so they can learn to speak each other's language. Still others may need a counselor to help them focus in on one particular issue and act like a mediator.

We weren't really talking, much less arguing. What we needed was someone to ask questions about difficult subjects to get the conversation started. We don't often broach these subjects with friends and family, so we needed someone neutral to dive in and ask the embarrassing questions. Once we were talking, ideally she would guide us toward a solution.

Of course most counselors are going to resist outright telling you what to do. It isn't that easy, and it probably shouldn't be. Their answers often have some sort of "well what do you think" element to it. We needed to develop some skills to better understand and communicate with each other. Along with the push start, we were looking for some education as well.

Once you decide to take the plunge, where do you turn? Getting the right person can be critical. One of the only people I told early on about my marital problems was my boss. I had to change the way I worked and my pay structure as a part of moving forward. He confided that he and his wife went to a counselor a few years back, and after one session they were about ready to get a divorce. We were looking for someone to stir the pot a little, not throw a match on a powder keg.

We ended up with "Linda". Not the best choice, not the worst. We'll cover our time with her next.


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