I posted in November and December about my experiences with couples’ counseling with my husband. It was difficult and heart-wrenching, and I often left the counselor’s office drained and depressed. It sometimes took me days to recover. I made jokes about how I needed my coach to help me deal with my counselor.
Some of it was just that our counselor was not the right person for me. I think of him as a Mr. Fixit. He listens a little, makes a lot of assumptions based on his years of experience, and offers opinions and suggestions for fixing the issue. I needed someone to listen to me and validate my feelings. He did not. I often left feeling worse than before I went in. My husband just wanted to disappear. He was paralyzed with shame and guilt and could not participate as I wanted him to. The doctor felt my husband was as present and involved as he could be under the circumstances.
But the counseling did have some very positive effects on our relationship. My husband finally understands and accepts the pain I have been in. He tries very hard to do the right thing these days. He cooks and cleans and generally helps with whatever needs to be done in our lives. He is loving and affectionate and considerate – most of the time anyway. He doesn’t want to talk about it, but he often apologizes when I am triggered or if I have nightmares. He used to get mad and say I should be over it already. That’s why my blog bears its name – because I’m not over it.
There are still many issues for which I think we need a mediator more than anything else, and a marriage counselor would serve that purpose well. My coach and I have discussed it and it seems that, even though our marriage counselor is not that great for me as a therapist, he would do well as a mediator for my husband and me. He suggested we see Dr. K a couple more times. Ugh.
James, my coach, then said something that struck me as something important to remember. He said that clients often came into his practice expecting mystical vibes and feel-good discussions and affirmations. It was almost like they thought they were going to a spa for the mind. In actuality, therapy is digging down into psychological wounds and scars and cleaning them out. It’s often painful and exhausting. He said it was common that people did not expect this, and then didn’t want to go back. He said they had to educate clients about what therapy was and what to expect.
And he said that coaching was different because we were dealing with frequent – almost daily – small insights. It is often engaging and interesting, even when we are discussing difficult and painful events. So he reminded me not to compare him to Dr. K. It’s hard not to do that. James is like my guiding angel. Dr.K is my nightmare.
So ok then. If that is what therapy is all about, maybe Dr. K isn’t so bad. I’ll make some appointments today.