Marriage counseling wrap up

So, after four months of marriage counseling, what did I walk away with? Was it worth it? Was it a waste of time?

As far as the saving or improving the marriage goes, it clearly failed. When we started counseling, the goal was to improve our communication and relationship. On some level, our communication improved, if not our relationship.

As I detailed in my last post, our counselor was a poor one and I should have insisted we start over with someone else. She seemed more interested in moving me along the five stages of acceptance than in working to save the marriage. We could have picked a better guide, but there were clear benefits to seeing someone. We shared a fair amount of what had been on our minds - our wishes, our frustrations, our misunderstandings.

As I have also mentioned, we both went into counseling believing I shouldered much of the blame for our arriving on this doorstep. What we found is that we had both done things that made things more difficult in our relationship. My habit is to always look to my own actions before placing blame on others, and I don't forgive myself very easily. While I found no absolution in counseling, I did find some perspective on my role. I am walking away with plenty of guilt feelings, but nothing near what I would have if we hadn't had these discussions.

Something my personal counselor mentioned - it isn't uncommon for partners to switch roles during counseling. J asked for counseling and I was initially resistant. Once the ball was rolling, however, I opened up and she pulled back. I was all for digging into the issues and trying to find solutions. J seemed less and less interested as the weeks passed.

J later confided that when she asked for counseling last November, if I had said no she was going to leave. Apparently she had already been mourning the death of our marriage for some time, and I'm guessing it had taken time to screw up the courage to confront me. When I said yes to counseling, her face showed disappointment. She said it was shock, in that she never expected I would say yes. But I think that she had built herself up for this moment of truth, and by saying yes it threw her.

In the end, our counseling seemed to be one long exit interview. The type where your employer goes through your good and bad points, but dances around the real issue of why you are being let go.

But it wasn't a waste of time. Though we did not save the marriage, I'm better for having gone through counseling. Our marriage counselor was pretty poor, and I wish we had someone else guiding us through the process. But in the end, as far as saving the marriage, it probably didn't matter who we went to. We started counseling too late. It is my belief that J's mind was all but made by the time we began discussing our issues. Of course like lots of other thing written here, this is mostly speculation.

But I am not embittered against counseling. I think it can be extremely helpful and would recommend it to anyone interested. Of course that recommendation comes with the caution to chose your guide carefully, and to be willing to start over with someone else if necessary.


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