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Broaching the subject of marriage counseling

(50 Posts)
jamaisjedors Thu 12-Oct-17 16:53:50

DH and I have had an unhappy few years, culminating last summer when it all finally got aired.

Things are a bit better now, but I feel they could be SO much better and didn't want to slip back into old habits.

I am seeing a counsellor and she has suggested that marriage counseling would be a good idea (based on some of the things I've told her).

I have no idea how to start the conversation with DH though.

I think he will be upset because I'm fairly sure he thinks things are ok now and will take this as a criticism or a knockback.

Any thoughts on how to bring this up without making a drama about it? Only time we get alone is in bed, not sure that's the best place for this conversation...

Thanks.

jamaisjedors Fri 13-Oct-17 09:34:07

Any one?

Wanted to bring it up last night but chickened out againsad

CockacidalManiac Fri 13-Oct-17 09:49:40

DH and I have had an unhappy few years, culminating last summer when it all finally got aired.

Things are a bit better now, but I feel they could be SO much better and didn't want to slip back into old habits.

All you have to do is tell him this.

NannyRed Fri 13-Oct-17 09:56:05

I'd start this conversation with "we're good aren't we? I mean we're good together?" And hopefully he will reply with a definite Yes!

Then just say "my councillor thinks we could be better, what do you think about marriage guidance?"

jamaisjedors Fri 13-Oct-17 12:27:24

Thank you both. It sounds easy written down but so hard on real life without sounding wierd. I guess this is one of the reasons we need to go for counseling, I am scared of bringing things up.

jamaisjedors Tue 17-Oct-17 06:07:31

So... I finally broached it with him last night. And he said ...
Nothing.
No reply.
Nothing.
I freaked out, then did some deep breathing and managed to go to sleep.
This is one of the reasons we need to go but if he never mentions it again I don't know if I can put myself through that again.

I felt sick beforehand sad

clapalongthree Tue 17-Oct-17 06:54:23

It sounds like you really believe counselling is going to improve things. That to me is a sign of your commitment and love for your DP. I only wish more DPs could read it like that.

I dragged my DP along to a Relate counselling session a couple of years ago. Similarly, it had all been coming to a head and we'd had some huge rows. He sat there and it became very obvious he wasn't going to give over to the process at all. He went through the motions, but clearly thought it a waste of time. We never went back.

Things have improved and we are in a good place. With lots of talking. But I'm sure things could be even better. I guess we have to find other ways to make it better.

My point is that counselling isn't the only solution, but it could be very helpful so long as your DP can commit. He is probably scared the floodgates might open, something that I think many men have worked a lot harder to keep closed.

Another thought is whether you have friends who go to counselling and telling him about them? Making it seem more normal to him. A lot of people are terrified of it because they think it means there is something really wrong, when in fact it's like going to the doctor to get treated. Just a different process.

Keep the conversation flowing as much as you can. flowers

Bibbidee Tue 17-Oct-17 07:15:18

I haven't read this particular book but I have read another one by John Gottman. Go google him, he's been researching couples for decades and created a Love Lab to study them. He can predict what couples will stay together....

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0878221271/ref=mpss_a11_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1508220733&sr=8-11&pi=ACSX2366_SY340_QL65&keywords=john+gottman

jamaisjedors Tue 17-Oct-17 10:27:27

Thank you both.

Clapalong, I agree that that is probably how DH feels, even though I tried to insist that things are better and I am committed to staying together.

Bibbidee, thank you, I have read a few of gottman's books, and had also identified unfortunately some of his "doomsigns" (stonewalling, contempt).

We have worked to improve those but have some way to go.

DH actually read some of the seven secrets to making marriage work (Gottman's), but was skeptical about whether it was true.

Needless to say we haven't done any of the programmes in the (numerous) books I have bought but it could be another option.

buckeejit Tue 17-Oct-17 10:46:20

I have a close friend with a similar problem. I wonder if counselling alone for him would be a better way to start? Or if there are any online videos of a typical couples session that might dispel the myths in his head.

I went to relate with my ex long ago & it was the best thing I've ever done. Really made me at ease with myself. I wouldn't be able to continue a relationship with someone who couldn't move out of their comfort zone to try it.

It's a bad sign that he didn't respond to you at all. What do you think is putting him off? Does he find it difficult having open honest conversations?

I try to throw out big feelings in a flippant way to DH sometimes if it's something that I might find hard to talk about. Simple things like 'I think I need you to get me a machine that gives me a shock when I eat another biscuit'. I am v overweight & have had an awful diet lately die to illness but it opens up the conversation a bit & he seems to like being asked to weigh in with his opinion on something that doesn't really affect him if that makes sense?

redexpat Tue 17-Oct-17 14:56:11

Could you put it to him as maintenance? I think some men see counselling as the worst thing in the world. So suggesting it as a marriage "service" to change the oil and check the tyre pressure might help.

Failing that are thrre any marriage courses being run near you? Thats also a good alternative.

jamaisjedors Tue 17-Oct-17 17:18:47

My counsellor has suggested marriage therapy with a qualified psychologist because DH has some PTSD issues.

Yes absolutely to avoiding honest conversations about feelings. This was a big problem for years (he denied there was any problem bit it was clear there was).

A lot of things came out last year and have been aired but I'm still feeling insecure and also worry because he has said we both would be happier with other people, while at the same time saying he is definitely staying.

I put this to him last night saying I feel we COULD be happier together.

Maybe he just needs time, but I fear he won't bring it up again til I do.

He's being very kind today.

jamaisjedors Tue 17-Oct-17 17:20:01

Yes to maintenance, I will say that when I bring it up again, but am going to try to leave him a bit of headspace for a few days.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 11:28:37

So still nothing a week later.

He's still being "nice" and we are getting on well, partly because I am off work sick at the moment so everyone is being nice to everyone else.

Now questioning the need for the counseling but this has been the case in the past, things get really bad and then just when I think I can't hack it anymore, it suddenly gets better.

I'm going to try to bring it up again tonight but suspect he will say "but we're ok at the moment, aren't we?"

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 11:33:11

It seems as though you are walking on eggshells and feel unable to do what you would like to do and book relationship counselling. This in itself is a concern. Why not tell him you intend to book a session?

Ditto the poster whose DP wouldn’t engage who stopped after one session because of his wishes.

Any help your DP seeks for his MH issues should be separate and with a different person than your couples’ counsellor. Would recommend people who are BACP qualified.

Bibbidee Tue 24-Oct-17 11:34:19

OP, have you seen this? Might help narrow some issues down?

https://checkup.gottman.com/couple/questionnaire/preview

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 11:34:31

You could acknowledge his view that things are OK but explain yhat you think otherwise, and/or yhat there is scope for improvement and that counselling would be likely to help.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 12:00:14

Thanks, all helpful. That questionnaire is perhaps a good starting point, I see just by doing the sample questions that we have issues with conflict.

Dozer I know you are right, that is a very sensible thing to say, but as you also say, I am walking on eggshells All the time when I broach any subject for discussion.

Actually that would be a good starting point, I tend to avoid bringing things up and then huff or get cross if he doesn't agree. And then he shuts down.

So I mostly avoid bringing things up (like this!)

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 12:21:25

So he is stonewalling you.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 12:35:32

Yes.

And I have read one of John Gottman's books and I know that it is bad.

Which is also why I want the counseling.

But if I say that to him there is no way he will go.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 12:38:27

He's not stonewalling me right now (believe me, I know what that looks like).

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 13:50:57

You raised the issue, he said nothing at all (stonewalling) then when you raised it again said one, brief comment implying in his view all’s well, and you didn’t say how you felt and are anxious about bringing it up again.

Perhaps it’s not the type and level of stonewalling you’ve previously experienced, but it’s stonewalling.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 14:05:22

I feel a bit sick.

The stonewalling I'm used to is several days (up to 2 weeks) without speaking to me at all, but chatting away to the kids.

I know this needs addressing.

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 14:06:53

He does that? Or was it an ex? That’s emotional abuse. Couples’ counselling isn’t adviseable in abusive relationships.

jamaisjedors Tue 24-Oct-17 14:19:35

He does that.

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