Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Four Reasons Why You Won't Go to Marriage Counseling.

Therapy can be a tremendous asset for your personal life and relationships. It can bring clarity, security, connection, and forgiveness that some never thought was possible. It can breathe new life into tired souls, repair hurts that seem too difficult to mend, and connect people who thought the time on their relationship had run out. It's a process that I find so meaningful that I've devoted my heart and professional life to helping others strive toward these seemingly impossible outcomes. 

So why do people put off counseling for so long? Statistics show that the average length of time a couple waits until they begin seeking therapy for a broken marriage is seven years. SEVEN YEARS. Imagine the hurt and bitterness that can grow in seven years that wasn't there in year one. Imagine the task of the therapist (or most therapists given the statistic) of trying to manage the amount of pain and anguish between this couple who have been trying to live with/fix/avoid the broken pattern of their relationship for so long. So why the wait? When someone has a broken arm, we go to the doctor for help immediately. We don't stay home reading books, looking up articles on the Internet, or trying our own medical expertise from the Boy Scouts to set the bone ourselves when there's help available. So why do we do that same thing with our broken marriages?

I think for a lot of couples, one or both partners deny a problem is even there. Perhaps one or both partners see a problem but try to keep up appearances of having a good marriage. It's hard diving into those issues, especially if you aren't confident that your partner will respond lovingly or openly. Sometimes starting therapy individually and adding a spouse in later can work; it shows your spouse that you're serious about working this out, even if that means just you working on it for a while if the other is unwilling.

Another reason is fear. What happens if someone sees us going to therapy? What happens if I have to become vulnerable and share parts of myself/our marriage that I want to stay hidden? What if therapy doesn't work and I put in all of this effort for nothing? All are valid fears. Even in today's culture where therapy has become more socially acceptable, it can still be embarrassing to be seen in a therapist's office. It's also a pretty scary experience to go and sit with a stranger and share parts of your life that aren't pretty and hurt you tremendously. And I think that it makes sense to be weary of putting in so much effort without getting the results you want. But what if therapy does work? What if things get better? And what happens if you don't seek help? Where does that leave you and your marriage? 

Money can be a barrier to most anything. Therapy isn't the most affordable thing in the world, and it makes sense that people don't want to risk throwing money into therapy when it might not end up how you wanted. However, we spend money on some crazy things and then turn right around and say therapy is too expensive. Cancel your cable for a few months. Stay in and eat instead of going out for a while. Rent a movie instead of going to the theater. Have a spending freeze where you don't buy clothes/makeup/sports equipment/etc. Maybe even work out at home instead of keeping up that gym membership/workout classes. Eliminating one or a few of these expense would give you more time together with your spouse and the money you might need for therapy. When you consider what's at stake (marriage, family, legacy), therapy really shouldn't ever sound that expensive anyway.

I know for many people in the River Valley area, the quality of therapy has been a major reason to avoid making an appointment. Who wants to go see a therapist when what you've heard about him or her hasn't been great? Or maybe you've seen a therapist before, had a bad experience, and won't ever go back. When we realize what's at stake or what might be lost if this doesn't work, we don't just run to the first clinician we can find any trust him or her with our deepest hurts and wounds. It makes sense to be cautious and to find a therapist who is properly trained, caring, empathic, and understanding... and not only that, but also confident that you can find connection with each other again. It's one of the main reasons I stepped out to begin private practice in this area this year after 3 years of working in an agency: I want to be able offer quality therapy to help couples and have them know that reconnection and repair is possible.

If you are struggling in your marriage or in your own personal life (or you know someone who is/couples who are), please urge them to seek counseling. As mentioned before, therapy can foster changes in relationships and individuals that seemed impossible before starting the process. And hopefully hearing from a therapist and seeing that I understand the struggle to get into my office and start the process will help make it in someway easier to take that step for yourself or your marriage. There are still a few eager and hopeful therapists in this area committed to helping you and your partner get your marriage where you want it to be. 

I'm honored to get to say that I am one of them.

im thankful.
carrie anne


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