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Your experience with therapy?

  • I haven't considered/tried therapy.

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • We tried therapy with good results.

    Votes: 22 46.8%
  • We tried therapy with little/no results.

    Votes: 10 21.3%
  • We tried therapy and things got worse.

    Votes: 6 12.8%
  • Spouse wouldn't agree to therapy.

    Votes: 2 4.3%
  • Other?

    Votes: 2 4.3%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you've had problems or difficulties in your marriage/relationship, did you try therapy, and what was the outcome? I'd be interested to hear from those who have done or tried therapy, or if you are a therapist or know one, what one considers to be a good success rate for helping couples through therapy?

I see therapy or counseling recommended over and over in almost every thread on this board, yet I don't know that I am convinced that it is all that helpful. First, I've become convinced that some people don't feel comfortable talking about problems, so it isn't helpful to them; it's painful and uncomfortable. Second, I think talking isn't the only way to make a relationship better... there are changes in attitude and changes in behaviors that either/or partner can make that can make all the difference in the world. Third, I think it's easy to focus on what the other person is doing that annoys/hurts/disappoints you, and you can make your therapy about that if you want. If the other person isn't as highly skilled as you, they're unable to bring much to therapy.

My experience when I was having a really rough time in my marriage was, I kept pushing for couples' counseling, he would refuse to go, we would try to talk things out and go around in circles, and I ended up going by myself. I think this did help me where I was at in my life, but I tended to mainly complain about him (or my parents) during my therapy sessions and was still focused on getting him to come and getting him to change his ways. That was about three years ago. Since then I've just done some maturing and a lot of thinking and some good reading, and my husband and I don't necessarily talk any more or better, and we haven't had any therapy together, but our marriage is a completely different one, in which we both feel more at ease and fulfilled and loved.

Plus, I've read (in books like The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) that the best therapists only have about 35% of couples report improvement, and only half of them still see the benefits a year later. In How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, they argue that couples don't grow apart because they have poor communication (which is what I assume therapy is all about), but that they have poor communication because they have become disconnected. And, that connection can be restored without "talking about it", by what they call "stepping into the puddle," which basically means just being present with your partner and holding a positive image of them in your mind and heart throughout the day and especially in difficult moments.

My husband and I have been married for 9 years, and in spite of the stress of financial limitations and two small children and one on the way and hardly having time to spend together, I think we're having the best year yet. We've learned to maintain our connection without talking about it.

Just very interested in this issue. What do you think?
 

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We've been in couples counseling since October. It's been really helpful and without it I think we'd be separated by now. At times I've felt it was working more than others, so sometimes I thought that couples counseling was bs, but overall I feel so much better about our relationship. It finally feels like there is harmony and laughter again.

I love the book How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. There is some awesome advice in it. I have to say that I read that book after being in couples counseling about 2-3 months and that lead to some amazing breakthroughs for me. I realized that I needed to change the way I acted and reacted to my dh and that so many of my reactions were coming out of a fear of abandonment. Once I read that book, it gave me so much understanding as to why I felt the way I did. That understanding made the feelings less powerful over me too. I brought up some of the principles from HTIYMWTAI in therapy and that really gave us some breakthroughs in couples counseling too.

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First, I've become convinced that some people don't feel comfortable talking about problems, so it isn't helpful to them; it's painful and uncomfortable. Second, I think talking isn't the only way to make a relationship better... there are changes in attitude and changes in behaviors that either/or partner can make that can make all the difference in the world. Third, I think it's easy to focus on what the other person is doing that annoys/hurts/disappoints you, and you can make your therapy about that if you want. If the other person isn't as highly skilled as you, they're unable to bring much to therapy.
You're right that some people don't feel comfortable talking about problems. However some problems need to be talked about and ironed out in order to improve. A good therapist will find a way to make everyone feel comfortable and supported so that they will be able to express their feelings.

Talking is definitely not the only way to make things better. I really think that when our actions are positive and loving, that goes so much further than talk. At some point, you have to focus on what your dp is doing right, not what they are doing wrong or what you would like for them to change. By focusing on what they are doing right and communicating how you appreciate that, you are bringing more of that back to you and the relationships.

HTH, I know it's so difficult and painful in this situation. But realize though that this could lead to a very positive change in your relationship with greater love, harmony, and understanding.
 

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We were in therapy and it worked wonders for our marriage. BUT, we both wanted it. It won't work any other way. I tried dragging him once, and it was awful. It didn't work until he was ready on his own...and then, it really worked well. We each did individual, and then did couples as well. He went longer than I did, cause he had more issues.
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Once I read that book, it gave me so much understanding as to why I felt the way I did. That understanding made the feelings less powerful over me too.
Me too.

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BUT, we both wanted it. It won't work any other way. I tried dragging him once, and it was awful. It didn't work until he was ready on his own
So, does something have to happen first in order for both to want it? How does one go from refusing, to wanting it? Is there a reestablishment of connection somehow, or do you convince them, or what? (I find my DH generally impossible to convince
So I just have to work at accepting him as he is.)
 

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We tried therapy. It didn't do any good. If we'd had a different therapist, or our insurance had lasted and we could have gone more, perhaps it would have. We have more and different problems now than we had then. It seems to me nothing much will make any difference because my husband isn't willing/able to change.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by webjefita View Post
So, does something have to happen first in order for both to want it? How does one go from refusing, to wanting it? Is there a reestablishment of connection somehow, or do you convince them, or what? (I find my DH generally impossible to convince
So I just have to work at accepting him as he is.)
Well, erm......I uh, left him.
It was not a decision I entered into lightly, it was after a couple years of trying everything I could think of. He was clinically depressed and had a couple other things going on, and our lives went from basically living as a married couple, to cordial roommates, to him beginning to be emotionally checked out and starting to creep into verbally abusive to me - and that was the dealbreaker...him refusing to get the help he needed was one thing when we were living civilly together, but when it started to creep over into borderline abusive, I had to get myself out of the situation with the very clear message that I wanted things to work out, but I would not let him treat me the way he was starting to treat me. So I moved out, and we were apart for a few months. He had a lightbulb moment and got into therapy and on medication wholly on his own, and then after he had been in therapy for a while I joined him, then had a handful of sessions on my own, and we reunited shortly thereafter. I found therapy to be wonderful for me to work out my own personal issues, even though I feel like I"m a relatively well-adjusted individual.


I will note that we did not have children at that point, so it was infinitely easier for me to leave. He said it was the best thing I could have ever done, because he couldn't blame me for all his problems anymore, and one night he realized what an a-hole he had been (his words). But that was all him that realized that, and he's said that no amount of me trying to convince him to get help while we were still living together would have made it happen.

I am by no means advising every couple to separate in the hopes that one party will have a change of heart - I'm simply relating what happened for us.

I guess what I'm saying is that even if he won't get into therapy right now, it might be helpful for you to do it on your own - I know it was helpful for me both the time he refused to go (I went to about 10 sessions on my own) and when he was going (we did probably 6 sessions together and I did 6 individual).
 

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I've done therapy with previous partners and had it not help much. However, with my husband it was very helpful. A lot of what therapy did for us was give us space to talk about some very specific problems we were having in communication with a neutral person there to help us deal with our 'done me wrong' feelings. In general we do a really good job of talking to one another but there was a specific situation where we had trouble.

That said, I wouldn't go back to that therapist. Once we got through the basic issue she wanted us to continue therapy and start taking apart stuff in our relationship that we were happy with. She had a basic life values difference and that was a pain.
 

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We've been in semi-regular therapy for more than a year and we love it. I don't think we'd be divorced if we weren't, however, we wouldn't be as happy and would fight a lot more for longer periods of time with less complete and peaceful resolutions.

Therapy isn't just about talking, some forms are, that's more "analysis" as Freud defined it. Couples therapy is often very constructive, learning tools to communicate better, doing communication "games" to help you understand and empathize better, and also having some one objective help you change your attitude. Your partner telling you to change might just make you change less when in the middle of conflict.

I WILL say that counseling sometimes doesn't make your marriage work, but it should make whatever is going on feel a bit more peaceful. In my first marriage we saw 3 marriage counselors and finally a Rabbi who is also knowlegable in integrative medicine, on the psychological side, on top of being a liscenced therapist. Anyway he basically helped us be clear and confident about breaking up, whereas the other therapists seemed determined to "fix us" and it just wasn't working. So you have to have the right therapist for you.

That being said, don't be nervous about a therapist TELLING you to breakup, I don't think they ever would, this was just an instance where we really wanted to and needed some support to do it peacefully, which we did and are still friends even though I'm remarried and am very happy with my DH.

Just my two cents
 

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We went to a Gottman trained (yes, the Gottman that wrote the 7 principles book) and she only focused on the immediate disagreement (he'd decided he didn't want a 3rd baby as we'd planned) instead of getting into all the things that had caused our marriage to break down. Because of that, it made things worse and he gave up on the marriage after the 4th or 5th session.
 

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My dh and I have been married for almost 18 years. Back at about year 9, I think, we had a very serious issue and were fortunate enough to end up with a fabulous therapist who really knew what to do and say. He taught us both how to manage the crisis we were in, then gave us guidance in the day to day management of problems small and big. To this day, we use the things he taught us to keep things good and healthy between us. We aren't perfect, our marriage isn't perfect, but I still
that therapist for how much he helped me to grow and learn about myself, so that I could grow and learn within the marriage.
 

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My ex-h and I went to couples therapy and I think it made our marriage break down even more quickly than it already was, BUT it was because we had a bad therapist who:

- was dismissive of how I felt about issues that were tied to childhood sexual abuse I went through, and how things ex-h did triggered me (and he knew it would)
-kept saying that our problem was communication, when it reality the problem was his lying and my inability to trust him and feel safe because of his lies

Those two things combined really fed into ex-h's belief that I was being ridiuclulous and petty and the way he treated me was ok and I just needed to be undestanding. And it wasn't.
 

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we haven't done couples therapy, but we have done therapy individually before we met and my husband is currently in therapy. the results have always been excellent.

edited to add:

i think that councelling works when you find the right therapist and the right method, and you put in the work for it emotionally. it isn't all about communication or one method of therapy.

there are thousands of methodologies of therapy, and within that, each therapist is different. you may or may not work with a certain therapist within a methodology, and you may not work well with a specific methodology.

but it's hard to wade through that when you're hurting and looking for something to help quickly. it can take months to find a really great person to work with, a method to work with, and then years before there is any real breakthrough.

of course, sometimes the whole thing is instantaneous.

right now, my husband is in therapy to deal with his extreme anxiety.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by webjefita View Post

So, does something have to happen first in order for both to want it? How does one go from refusing, to wanting it? Is there a reestablishment of connection somehow, or do you convince them, or what? (I find my DH generally impossible to convince
So I just have to work at accepting him as he is.)
well, i'll disagree and say i don't actually think both people have to want it. i think both people have to be willing but that's different from wanting it.

i really wanted to go to counseling; he went along with me because i told him i thought it was basically our last shot at making things work. at that time in our marriage, things were extremely rocky and untenable. therapy got us back on our feet. we still have our issues, though, and if we could afford it right now, i'd be back in therapy for a "tune-up."

in my case, what really convinced him was when i said, "look, we love each other. we obviously want things to be better, but if we knew how to make that happen they would already be better, and they're not--so we need someone to help us learn how to make things work between us."

that seemed to persuade him--the whole idea that we would "learn the skills" we needed to make things work.
 

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can i talk about a 3rd party?

two friends of mine were married; they're now divorced. no children.

about a year before the divorce, he agrees to couple's councelling. they go. throughout, she does the work of it, and he thinks "well, she'll get through this and then our marriage will be ok." he didnt' think that he needed to work or that anything was wrong.

after a year, she finally realized that he wasn't going to work or change, and so she divorced him. he was shocked, because he always thought of the whole thing as "her problem" and that councelling would help her, and therefore she would stay with him.

councellig did help her see what she wanted, and she walked away.

since then, he's also been in coucnelling and been doing the work. not to get her back, but he realized that he missed out. he goes every week and is doing very well overall. he's getting healthier.

she continues to go to councelling too--of course now both are independent of each other. she's in a new relationship; he's not but desparately looking (which is part of the problem, IMO. she wasn't looking at all, btu there you go).

both would say that they are happy, that this was the right thing to do--to get divorced. sometimes, it is what is right. it is not some great evil.

councelling can also demonstrate this, not just keep marriages together.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
after a year, she finally realized that he wasn't going to work or change, and so she divorced him. he was shocked, because he always thought of the whole thing as "her problem" and that councelling would help her, and therefore she would stay with him.

councellig did help her see what she wanted, and she walked away.
Exactly. And in reference to a pp: Our first therapist was not helpful at all. I can't even remember what we ever spent our time even talking about, and we went for almost a year. Our second therapist was very helpful, therefore my STBXH hates her. He'll go see her though. Actually, he was the one who got the recommendation for her and set up our last appointment with her. But he doesn't listen to one.single.word she says. And she's pretty blunt about what's his problem, which are mine, and how each of us will go about fixing those. (
her) So there's huge difference between wanting to go and wanting to be there. He'd go every day of the week if he thought that made it look like he wanted to change or that he was working on things, but the fact is that he doesn't.

I voted that marriage counseling had little to no effect on our marriage, but in all reality I have seen a great improvement in my life and the way I view things, including many of the things that were our old problems. But I've also started seeing her by myself so there ya go.
 
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