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Has counselling saved your marriage?

(28 Posts)
AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:27:10

Posted before but in a very tight nutshell, I just don't love DH any more. Have grown apart over many years of him neglecting me on most levels. He is a good guy but hopeless at being a husband, he has no passion for anything and is basically just the kind of person who lets life pass him by. I can't handle it anymore and have felt like I've been dying a little more every day over the past two years. I am naturally more of a firecracker I suppose!

He has now asked if we can try counselling together. I don't know what to say because I really feel like I can't be convinced to love him again (and if I'm really honest, I don't think I ever really loved him - more found him wonderfully reliable and honest and mistook that respect for love i guess..?). We have two young dds so lots to fight for, but I don't know whether to put him and myself through it if it's ultimately a waste of time and money.

Of course if it works, brilliant! It'd be perfect if we could be happy again, as I don't want to break up our family. But I won't raise my daughters in this kind of setup as it stands, and he deserves to find someone who does love him.

So I'd be so interested to hear your stories of counselling, especially if your situation is similar to mine.

Thank you flowers

LightsLoveLaughter Sun 20-Nov-16 17:29:10

What made you, fall in love with in, in the first place?

LightsLoveLaughter Sun 20-Nov-16 17:29:32

With him sorry for typo

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:33:11

I think it was because I wanted a family so badly. I feel horrible saying it but think I convinced myself that I loved him, when really I just actually really liked and respected him and I knew he'd be a good dad. I didn't stop to think whether he'd be a good partner for me, and I guess that's what I'm paying for now sad

Greenandmighty Sun 20-Nov-16 17:38:40

IMO and my experience, counselling is not a panacea; it's not the magic remedy unless both parties are equally invested in the outcome. However, it might give you a "safe" context to express some of the more difficult feelings you have and to work towards a conclusion to the relationship if that's what you intend. Wishing you luck xx

Greenandmighty Sun 20-Nov-16 17:40:04

Should add that I am in same boat and considering same options AhNurts. It ain't easy....

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:42:55

Thanks green, sorry you're going through this too. In some respects I feel very fortunate to be in this situation, when I read on mn just how bad it can be. But the crushing unhappiness... it's squashing me down more every day. I look at him and feel absolutely nothing, he says 'I love you' and I can't bring myself to say it back. The poor man. I can't do this for the rest of my life. Hope you can find the answers somehow.

PastoralCare Sun 20-Nov-16 17:45:06

No it does not, it tends to make things worse because

1) you revisit the past and the reasons why you are at odds in the first place

2) there is no time limit so you never know how long it might go (and how much you might spend)

3) you can't sample therapists until you find one that both of you feel comfortable with. This means that if you don't find you are making any progress with the one you have chosen then you have to start all over again with the next one.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:47:55

pastoral thank you for your input. DH has had a recommendation for a local counsellor and she offers a programme so there's a definite beginning and end. I've researched and she looks like the kind of person I could imagine myself working with. It's costly, but nowhere near as costly as separating would be in just the first month alone...

overthehillandroundthemountain Sun 20-Nov-16 17:52:04

Whilst it didn't save my marriage - very similar scenario to yours - I found it helpful precisely because it helped me revisit the reasons why we got to this stage. Ours had a time limit of 10 weeks. I think a good Relate counsellor will give an idea. Find someone experienced; you can usually look them up. We saw 1 other counsellor each and 1 together, but there had been a mix-up over whether we were there together or apart. I took a risk in continuing to see the counsellor privately even though we were 'thrown off' therapy, and she has been a wonderful help.

It is costly, but it gave me peace of mind. Even in couples counselling, she was impartial (rather than on 'my' side), it provided a vehicle for us to express our views. We would not have talked otherwise.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:55:35

over that's really helpful, thank you. I guess I worry that, while I've been pretty honest with DH about how I feel, i probably can't be as brutally honest as I need to be in couples counselling. But he's so desperate to fix this together. I wish he'd been this desparate on the number of occasions I told him I felt completely emotionally cut off from him, ignored and misunderstood.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 17:56:58

Also over is it a situation you ever regret getting out of? I am so scared that I'll take the leap then realise that no ones interested in a slightly overweight single mother of two and then realise that I had what i wanted/needed all along?!? I'm so confused!

Pollyanna9 Sun 20-Nov-16 17:59:45

Sometimes it can be useful if for no other reason than it helps you make that decision and take that step towards ending it if the counselling helps identify that there's nothing to work with - then you can action that decision with more of a clear head.

I guess if I felt pretty strongly that it's run its course I wouldn't want a long drawn out counselling process that merely defers a decision that needs to be made. The fact the counsellor you've identified has a time limited duration is a good thing.

My ExH and me did Relate for a while. All seemed improved until about a year later when he started being a twat again at which point he informed that he'd never believed anything the counsellor had said anyway!!! So that wasted a year!

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 18:02:52

polly how frustrating! I imagine you probably learnt a lot about yourself during those sessions, so hopefully not all wasted.

I feel like I can use this to discover what I want, I just don't want to get bullied into working on the marriage and have my opinions and feelings overlooked. I guess that's down to me to be as honest as I dare...

DragonRojo Sun 20-Nov-16 18:06:24

We had 6 sessions. Sometimes I think it was a waste of £300, but other times I wonder whether it really helped to make the separation more amicable. It didn't save the marriage but I feel we both came out having understood that we were both to blame for many things.

PastoralCare Sun 20-Nov-16 18:09:33

OP ask her what her method is, what is the framework, how she/he deals with recriminations on both sides and avoid appearing biased.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 18:17:07

dragon interesting, I'm hoping these sessions will finally make him see that burying his head in the sand for an easy life does have fallout, eventually.

pastoral that's good advice, I think I'm going to call her and get a bit more info.

The running theme to this seems to be that counselling very rarely saves a marriage, rather it eases you both into the next phase of your relationship. Maybe that's because it's usually used as a last resort. No idea where we'd be now if DH or I had suggested it years ago...

BifsWif Sun 20-Nov-16 18:46:06

Watching with internet as I'm in the same position.

Nothing 'wrong' except he isn't a good husband, but that's not intentional. He is also just happy to plod along, whereas I'm not.

We've had the conversation recently, but I feel so guilty for hurting him and breaking up my family that I don't know what to do.
Counselling won't save our marriage, but I think might help us both accept that the marriage is over? I don't know.

BifsWif Sun 20-Nov-16 18:46:18


Greenandmighty Sun 20-Nov-16 18:47:15

AhNurts, sounds like you are craving a context to open up about your true feelings. It can be a real burden to be faking feelings and not to be able to match the feelings of your DH.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 19:39:42

Bifs yes to the plodding! I hate plodding so much. I can't bear life to happen to me, I need control. He needs to be controlled. Therefore I end up not having any control and having to control someone else. Flipping nightmare for all involved! Hope you can find a good path for your situation.

green I think you're right. On one hand I'm scared of saying something i can't ever take back and on the other i'm thinking 'well I won't need to take it back, so that's not a huge problem'. But of course, i really don't want to hurt him.

Greenandmighty Sun 20-Nov-16 19:54:48

Sometimes it's only by expressing our emotions out loud that we can look at them and examine how we truly feel rather than them sitting inside our heads and festering. It's a brave step to take but you're doing it because deep down you want things to change and you recognise you're unhappy.

Sillysusie63 Sun 20-Nov-16 19:58:19

It won't work for you in the respect of making everything ok.

Your first paragraph tells me it's over and you need to find a way to bring it to a close. Counselling may help that but it won't be a happy ever after ending.

AhNurts Sun 20-Nov-16 20:02:22

green it's so weird that now I'm being honest (and using MN a lot to read others experiences) I finally see a way out. It was like before, I didn't think I was 'allowed' to break up with him but now I recognise that it's okay to stop something that's making you miserable, whatever the root cause of the misery. And now I can't ever see a way back.

silly yeah I guess my wording is pretty telling. Looking for a miracle because it would be easier than facing the mess of a split. But I know with certainty that I'd be more than okay after the dust had settled.

overthehillandroundthemountain Sun 20-Nov-16 21:41:37

AhNurts* Glad my reply was helpful. This will be long, sorry!

My husband does not speak to me, so I had to show him separation..I have written extensively in the Incompetent Husbands thread. It has been nearly a year since I have been at breaking point.

Like you, I thought I couldn't be brutally honest during the counselling, but somehow I found the strength to say that I felt like escaping the marriage. His reply was that he was "bewildered" and "distressed" to hear these things. The counsellor allowed us a sort of role play scenario where we had to turn our chairs and say what she scripted. He turned to say "sorry", which he had never done. I looked at him and said "it's too late". It was a great relief to say that, with someone else there. That took several weeks. We were fighting fire with fire.

I am calmer now. He took the DCs on hols by himself. As soon as he left, having said goodbye to the counsellor, I re-contacted her. It was the best thing I ever did. I gave myself time to sort my head out.

The things I have learned:
- why my husband is in an emotional void
- how that emotional void came to be
- why I chose someone who is emotionally detached
- how to deal with that detachment
- how to ask for support
- why I didn't get support when I needed it
- why he has a warped sense of support, and
- who I was when I married him.

I was just a girl, really. Now I have grown up and am asking tough and grown-up questions. I was needy and thought I needed a husband. I have learned that I am more than ok by myself.

I don't know about future regrets. This is what has held me back from leaving the relationship properly. You glimpse a path, at first. It looks appealing. You plod on alongside, mindful of said path. If it continues to look appealing, you let it grow and keep following it, visualising more of your future alone. I had my head turned, not by another man, but by my single-women friends. I realise that I can do it alone. I will be ok. I don't think I will regret not growing old with him, in fact the opposite. If I have to stay in this marriage for much longer, I will probably end up killing myself. It provokes feelings of self-annihilation in me, which are not healthy (<-- understatement of the year).

You know, you can separate within your home. We are living in separate bits of house. Since doing so, my stress levels have lowered and I feel better about myself. It has given me the confidence to move forwards.

First step, you need some counselling for yourself:
I am so scared that I'll take the leap then realise that no ones interested in a slightly overweight single mother of two

You are judging yourself by those (negative) esteem markers. Why shouldn't someone be interested in you? You wouldn't be the first, nor the last, slightly overweight mother of two! And anyway, why can't you be by yourself for a bit? Start to be your own best friend. Feel good about yourself and then make the big decisions. You don't have to make those decisions quickly.

Hope this helps, OP. Thinking of you.

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