Marriage counseling report card - part one

If you can't say something nice...we'll start with the good:

"Linda" suggested/required each of us to go to an individual counselor in addition to seeing her as a couple. We had personal issues that we needed to address if we were going to have any success working on our marital problems. Linda referred me to John, and I couldn't have been happier with this choice. He was very helpful in working through my own issues, as well as a sounding board for my marital problems.

Linda asked tough questions. Her questions made us discuss subjects we had avoided talking about. Subjects that were sometimes embarrassing, loaded with shame, and more than a little tension. Our conflict avoidance was so prevalent, there was plenty to discuss. Once the subjects were broached, we did pretty well in opening up. Like so many other things, the stress and worry of anticipation is much worse than the actual thing you're avoiding.

I think just having a third person in the room was helpful, whether or not she was pushing us. When we were in session, J and I sat side by side on a couch facing Linda. I think it was easier to open up when we weren't facing each other. When discussing embarrassing or hurtful things, we weren't looking in each other's eyes. We didn't see each other's reaction, the crestfallen looks, any walls going up, etc. John actually recommended that we use this side-by-side technique by talking while out for a walk together. I made this suggestion a couple of times, but it didn't pan out.

When J initially mentioned moving out, Linda encouraged her to stay. Linda and I both felt that it was premature, and would only make working on our communication more difficult. Though J moved out a week or two later, I appreciated that Linda had encouraged us to work through things by staying under the same roof.

We met just about every week, 14 sessions in all, and we covered quite a bit of ground. Digging in to all the unsaid problems was a difficult journey, but I am better for it. It could have gone much, much better though. Most of things I appreciated about our counseling were pretty general and not specific to what Linda brought to the table. Next, the not so good.


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