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Don’t Let Your Therapist Talk You Into Divorce

It’s unbelievable to me, but it happens. I know it happens because I hear a version of this story all too frequently when a new client finds me and it gets me angry every time.It happened again today.

A man who has been married for more than 20 years started to feel unhappy in his marriage. He is analytical, so he spent a lot of time trying to decide if he should leave his wife because he just didn’t feel “in love” with her anymore.

He wondered if he was being selfish.

He wondered if he could change anything.

He wondered if he should stop trying.

For four years he struggled with these thoughts, and eventually, he spoke with a therapist because he wanted someone to help him get some clarity.  He wanted to make sure he wasn’t acting rashly so he worked with this therapist for months, and his wife never knew about it. She knew he was unhappy, but she didn’t know the extent of his unhappiness.

After a few weeks, the therapist tells this man, “Sounds like you are done. What are
you waiting for? You don’t need my permission. Go ahead and file for divorce!”

Don’t let your therapist talk you into divorce.

WHAT just happened?  When the wife did find out, she was furious.  She asked me how a therapist could say this when he had never met her and was only getting one person’s perspective on a two person marriage!  She felt the therapist was negligent and I couldn’t disagree with her.  But this is often what happens in “individual” therapy.

I’m sure the therapist felt like he did really good work. The client took his advice and the therapist got to feel good at the end of the day because he “connected” with his client; the client got temporary relief from the troubles that had been bothering him. But now his family is in tatters.

Was this client “done”? Well…yes. In that moment in time, he was. He was feeling hopeless and wanted to end the pain. But what about the wife? What about the kids he was also going to leave?  What about the marriage that was based on promises and commitments that were now torn apart?

This is a family! You can’t treat the individual like the family does not exist.

That’s why you need a pro-marriage therapist.

There are plenty of “feel good” therapists out there who want their clients to find themselves or focus on personal happiness at the expense of everyone else in their lives, their commitments, and their responsibilities. But this is hogwash!

This man absolutely had an excellent shot at saving his marriage. A great first step would have been actually telling his wife that he was thinking of divorce back when he still had deep feelings for her. That would have gotten her attention and then they could have rolled up their sleeves together and gotten to work on saving the marriage.  But that isn’t what happened.  By the time the wife found out just how unhappy the husband really was, he was emotionally distant and detached.  Now the work has become a whole lot harder.

A pro-marriage therapist is important because you want someone who places the same value as you on this precious relationship.

You want someone who knows that the marriage is not disposable…that things might feel hopeless but until both people have the opportunity to work together to change the relationship, you cannot know it truly is hopeless.

And then it happened to me!

Six months ago I was going through something in my own life, and I hadn’t done individual work on myself in awhile so I made an appointment with a well-known therapist in town who had lots of years of experience. I was pretty excited to have another professional to bounce things off of.

But after the third session, I had to fire her.

That morning I had fought with my husband, and when I came in for my appointment with the therapist I was upset and mad. Yes, even marriage therapists fight with their spouses.  This wasn’t one of those fights that sometimes surprise you. This was one of those battles that we have fought countless times before.  I found myself in that place of wondering “Why do we always get stuck here?”  I was feeling defeated and tired.  My new individual therapist was happy to help me explore my feelings of hopelessness that anything would change.  She was so compassionate and understanding.  She joined my bandwagon and wholeheartedly agreed that my husband was unreasonable and difficult.  She looked appropriately shocked when I complained that this was an ongoing battle.  Then asked me the question.  “How long do you want to put up with this from your husband before you have had enough?

Excuse me?  I thought I must have misunderstood her.

Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. This is how it happens!

The therapist did a masterful job in supporting me but what about supporting my marriage?

“Why do you feel like you deserve so little?”

That’s a good question, but she didn’t also investigate why my husband deserves so little from me at that particular moment.  She didn’t probe enough into how I contribute to this endless loop we sometimes find ourselves in.  She didn’t hold me accountable in any way.  Protecting the marriage meant considering both of us, not just my needs alone. A marriage is not about just one person.

Find a therapist who values marriage.

I get why my therapist didn’t push back on my whining and complaining and force me to look at myself more closely.  That could have damaged the client/therapist relationship.  I could have gotten angry and left, found another therapist.  All therapists are trained to “join” with our clients; to show unconditional support without judgment.  But I believe holding a client accountable to act responsibly is part of my job.  My therapist joined with me but she wasn’t acting in my best interest because she was siding with me when I needed her to challenge me.

The only time I tell a client that they need to get out of their relationship is when there’s abuse going on. And usually severe abuse.

He’s hitting her. She’s raging at him. He’s raging at the kids.

In these extreme situations, there might be the need for a safe space before doing anything else. But if there isn’t abuse, a therapist who works with only one-half of the couple shouldn’t be advocating divorce. It is irresponsible. It doesn’t value the marriage or consider the other people in that person’s life.

Choose a therapist who shares your values and believes in marriage.

If you don’t find the right therapist at first, try again. Try three times. Try four.

Don’t work with the wrong therapist. Don’t give up.

Most marriages can and should be saved.

There’s this young couple I’m almost finished working with that was on the verge of divorce when they came in.

The husband had an affair, and he came into my office last year and told me he didn’t love his wife.

“I don’t even like her,” he said. “There is nothing you can say or do that is going to make me want to stay in this marriage.”

He had seen another therapist who also told him to leave the marriage. But we sat down and investigated why he was so unhappy. It came down to him not feeling in love anymore.

I told him he had these four kids at home who loved and adored him, and I asked if he really wanted to leave them. He didn’t. So did he want to try and see if we could bring back the feelings and save the marriage?

He didn’t think it was possible.

But his marriage was worth a leap of faith. It was worth a try.

And you know what? We did bring back the love. They did save their marriage. Now he wants to be a testimonial so he can show other couples there is hope. He went from almost hating his wife to loving her again. But that never would have happened if he had followed the advice of the other therapist.

I’m not saying every marriage can be saved. But most can.

If your marriage is struggling and you don’t have a pro-marriage therapist who is supporting you, call me or go online to schedule an appointment with us.  We work with clients all over the world so don’t worry if you don’t live in Dallas.

Your marriage is worth saving. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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What Not Having Sex Does to Your Marriage

Not Having SexNot Having Sex

A lot of couples I see in my office eventually end up sharing that they’re not having sex. Lately, I’m seeing a lot of angry, shut down men. That’s a good clue for what is really going on.

When a couple isn’t having sex, it is usually the wives who initiate therapy. They feel they are losing their husbands or they are worried because their husband is often angry and irritable. Sometimes they are in my office because the husband had an affair, or because he said he wanted a divorce.

I start the therapy process and eventually it comes out there has been very little sex for months or years. I say eventually because the wife doesn’t mention it – she doesn’t think it is that big a deal.

She knows they don’t have sex often but they get along in every other way and he doesn’t complain about it much. The husband doesn’t mention it right away because he is embarrassed or even humiliated. What man wants someone to know his own wife doesn’t want him?

If you aren’t having sex in your marriage, it is a big deal.

It means something is off. The longer you ignore this the harder the punch will be when you are forced to deal.

Every. Single. Time. Every single time, the wife is surprised….shocked at how angry and hurt and rejected her husband feels because they aren’t having sex. Sure. She admits knowing they weren’t having sex. She admits knowing it was a problem for him. But she didn’t realize just how much of a problem.

Let me tell you what happens to the guy you sleep with every night when you reject his advances: he feels inadequate.

He questions whether or not you love him at all.

He fears he is disappointing you sexually and that is the reason you turn him down. He feels completely helpless and then starts to resent the hell out of you for putting him in a powerless position.

He may act out in ways to alleviate both his sexual frustration and his building resentment toward you by using porn or having an affair.  He often avoids coming home and works longer hours.

He will justify this by believing you forced him to do it.

Then he may get even angrier with you.

Because he really just wants to be loved by YOU.

At least he does until he is so angry and so shut down he starts to despise you. When it gets that bad, he tries to stay civil but the contempt leaks out at times and this confuses you. But it also helps justify to you that it is ok not to have sex. After all, who wants to have sex with a jerk?

All of these intense feelings are going on under the surface and you are oblivious to how much pain he is in. Partly because he has not been direct enough in telling you. But partly because you don’t want to see his pain.

When he has tried to talk about it, you have responded by telling him “all you want is sex.” This infuriates him and widens the chasm between you. It makes him feel hopeless and he thinks if all he wanted was sex, he sure wouldn’t be here with you.

Then he notices that you have also started pulling away from non-sexual physical affection. You stiffen when he hugs you. You give him “push off” kisses that let him know you don’t have the time or desire to linger. At some point, to protect himself, he comes to accept this is his “normal.”

He is trapped in a sexless marriage.

And he starts to detach.

This is the point most men leave the marriage.

Men Not Having Sex: Here’s How to Talk With Your Wife

If this is happening in your marriage, wake up now! Guys, if this sounds like your situation, be direct with your wife about your feelings.

Let her know that something has to change. Tell her how much pain you feel and how much it hurts to feel so rejected time and time again. Don’t hide behind your embarrassment or humiliation.  You aren’t the only man who feels trapped in a sexless marriage.  I see it all the time.  Your only way out of this is to speak up or leave.  Leaving may seem easier but it rips the family apart.  

Stay respectful, but tell her! If she doesn’t get it, force the issue by making an appointment for the two of you to talk with a marriage expert. If she doesn’t want to join you, go alone.  Don’t make the excuse that you have tried to tell her.  Every couple I’ve seen in this situation has a wife who tells me she didn’t know things were this bad.  You haven’t told her directly enough until you put the marriage on hold in other ways to get her attention.  Don’t be afraid to find out exactly why you aren’t having sex.  Whatever the reason, there is very likely a solution but you may never resolve this without some answers. 

Women Not Having Sex: Here’s How to Respond

Ladies, there are a lot of reasons why you may not desire sex or desire sex with your husband. Ignoring the problem and avoiding sex is the coward’s way out. If you don’t like the quality of sex, talk about it, go to therapy, read some books together. Fix it.

If there are emotional issues that dampen the mood, deal with those also. It is natural for you to not desire sex if your husband is inattentive, controlling, critical or abusive.  If this is happening in your marriage, you have some big problems to address.  Use this opportunity to make things better.  If you love your husband, find a way to deal with this because one day you may get an ugly surprise.  You may think all those “not tonight” moments aren’t that big a deal, but I promise you, they come with a price.  Your husband needs to know you love him.  He views his sexual needs as a huge part of the marriage deal.  

Call us or contact us online, and let us help you figure out what you need to start enjoying sex with your husband again. But if you keep avoiding the issue, you may find yourself discussing these things with a divorce attorney instead.

Not Having Sex is a big deal!

It’s time we start talking about it and learning how to enjoy each other more. It is heartbreaking to see the pain that not having sex is causing couples.

Stop the misery and get some help. At The Marriage Place, we can work with you to help you figure out why you aren’t having sex–and even better–help you enjoy it!

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