Does couples counseling ever help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 04-21-2004, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband and i are going to start counseling next week because things are really, really bad between us (made worse by ongoing home renovations and my father with alzheimers moving in with us). i wondered if anybody has a success story where things were really bad between them and counseling allowed them to work it out and return to a happy, healthy relationship?

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#2 of 11 Old 04-21-2004, 06:21 PM
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Yes, yes, yes!

My now-dh broke off our engagement 4 months before we were supposed to get married. Right before he broke it off, he helped me send out the "save-the-date" cards. It was horrible - we had bought a house together, he moved out, I cried non-stop for days.

We went into couples counselling and were able to save the relationship. We got married about a year after our original wedding date.

Our relationship is not perfect, and we still have a lot of baggage and issues. In fact, we are talking about going back into counselling to get some help. But it's nothing like what it used to be.

Caveats: a) both parties have to be committed to the counselling, and committed to doing the hard and painful work to try to make things better.

b) It has to be the right counsellor for both people. We had been to counselling twice before with different counsellors before we got engaged, but in hindsight they weren't the right people (and we both weren't ready to do what needed to be done to fix things).

I have heard awesome things about Imago therapy (based on Harville Hendrix' book Getting the Love You Want. Their website is

Good luck.

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#3 of 11 Old 04-22-2004, 07:03 AM
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I agree with Quirky, you BOTH have to be willing to do the work!

My stbx and I did couple's therapy for 7 months. When he tried, there was progress. When he didn't, which was most of the time, things got worse.

Wish I had a success story for you, but we are in the process of getting divorced...he has a girlfriend! Although, a lot of the issues in our marriage had a lot to do with his horrible childhood of abuse and abandonment.

BUT...I do believe that couple's therapy can really work and make things much better for a couple that are BOTH willing!

Good luck!
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#4 of 11 Old 04-22-2004, 11:28 AM
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Absolutely it works. I called off our engagement 2 days after our recpetion tasting; things were really bad on the day we were supposed to be married. SO found a therapist who worked for us (even though, as a human, she rubbed us both the wrong way. Go figure.), and after 2 sessions, things are REMARKABLY improved. Key things for us: SO finally realized it was trying counseling or I would kick him out AND SO did the legwork of finding a therapist.

And I finally realized, as well, that I would, in fact, kick him out. Our therapist helped us BOTH check back in, and we have made some changes.

Good luck...


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#5 of 11 Old 04-22-2004, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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thank you guys for the responses. i'd love to hear more counselling success stories just for the hope. we are both really sad that things are as bad as they are and i hope we're ready to do the work necessary to fix things.

i'm also looking into the imago stuff. i've seen nothing but great stuff about the books so i am definitely considering getting one or more of those.
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#6 of 11 Old 04-22-2004, 08:43 PM
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Counseling has helped us immensly. Last summer we were on the verge of making plans to split, but we have been able to really work on some of our stuff with a great counselor (who sometimes rubs me the wrong way, too!). We are still working and always will be, but we were able to get back to that place of recognizing our love for eachother through our counseling sessions. We still go, and have no plans of stopping, though we no longer go weekly.
I do agree, both partners have to be willing to work equally on the marriage, in counsleing and at home.
Good Luck!
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#7 of 11 Old 04-22-2004, 08:48 PM
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i've just started reading getting the love you want, and so far i really like it.


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#8 of 11 Old 04-23-2004, 12:12 AM
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I don't want to go into the details, cause they're personal, but we had some real problems some years ago. Bad enough that we separated.

awe got counseling, which seemed to bring out the problems at first and make them worse. Then, slowly, things began to improve.

Now,. it's hard to believe we ever had a problem. We were both very involved and very much wanted this to work, which helped greatly.
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#9 of 11 Old 04-23-2004, 12:46 AM
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We we lamost at the edge when my mother died
And now.....10 years later....we are ahppily amrried still
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#10 of 11 Old 04-23-2004, 06:42 PM
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Yes it can!

My and Quirky's story are very similar, except now-DH moved out 7 months from the wedding and we hadn't purchased a house. But it was still pretty bad.

At the time he felt he wasn't in love with me, and that's a pretty hard one to work past! Because he felt the lack of love so strongly he really didn't think anything would work.

He then started counseling on his own, and those counselors kicked his rear. For the first time he really opened up and was open to the entire process (when he was younger he had counseling but put barriers up, telling them "if you talk about this or that I'll never come back"), and it worked so well. Within a few sessions he realized that he WAS in love with me, but he had to find a way to love himself (he's a really sensitive guy), so I gave him space to work on that.

I couldn't afford my own counseling, so I tried to draw on what I had learned in counseling sessions a couple years before, and really went into my own self to figure out what I was doing wrong in our relationship.

During that time we did not live together. However, he made more than me and helped me out financially, since we had JUST signed a lease and my rental history is the one good part of my credit! He helped me in many different ways. We made the FIRM decision that there would be NO DATING at all, and that's one of the only ways we made it through. If one of us had had an outside person to get love from I doubt we would have worked so hard to re-find our love for each other.

We had communication guidelines, phone call guidelines, we would set up rules for that week and then re-visit them the next week. We made sure the other knew we were safe, and that we were still working on things, even if we didn't want to see each other for a week or so.

After a couples months he asked if we could go to counseling together. I said yes. Then things got worse. We saw a wonderful person in a master's degree program at Pacific Lutheran University, mainly because they had a sliding scale. She was great but we were yelling more and more.

One day we started arguing and it got really ugly in session, and I looked up and saw the counselor's eyes filling with tears. That stopped me dead in my tracks, and R saw it too. We were so ashamed. We really had to figure out if we could continue that way; if we made an adult cry what would this do to a child? Did we want to do that to a child?

And from then on, after realizing that we loved each other and di NOT want to make our children turn out like we did, we just powered through and were better to each other.

We got re-engaged 5 months after he moved out, and were married 13 months later. Thank goodness we got it all cleared up, as we're now expecting a baby!

If both of you really want to work on things, if you're willing to lay it ALL out on the table, and if you're willing to work on things you don't think you should have to, but the other person can work. I would highly recommend keeping apart, if not moving out at least having your own spaces for after sessions. Sometimes things get emotional and you need to process it, but sometimes one person's venting can be SCARY to the other. Space, boundaries, rules, those are all very important.

Good luck!
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#11 of 11 Old 04-23-2004, 08:35 PM
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yes yes here too. Although ours wasn't really couples counseling. He went alone most of the time to work out childhood issues that effected our relationship. I went with him sometimes. It took a year and a half but our life together is sooo much better.

It really does work.

btw, I worked on my issues seperately too.
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