Inspired by Valerie Thomson
1. Marriage is hard
When I was single and living with roommates I held a well-reinforced belief that I was fairly easy to get along with. This belief had to be reluctantly abandoned at the outset of my marriage. Because let’s be honest, it’s hard to feel super easy going when it’s 2:00 in the morning and you can’t even remember what you’re fighting about. Early on, my husband and I became painfully aware that neither one of us was going to be able to enjoy the kind of marriage and the kind of life that we wanted without some serious changes on both fronts. And although both of us felt a looming sense of general dissatisfaction neither one of us quite knew how to fix it.
2. Marriage is Worthwhile
Did all the fighting mean we were miserable? Certainly not. We had endless moments of pure joy during those first few years and many more of self-discovery. There were silly moments like the honeymoon whipping cream fiasco and the sad ones, like our miscarriage. We learned how to help each other do hard things and how to be a family. At times, we were even able to forgot ourselves in serving each other… but it was difficult to feel like we were fumbling more often than not. Our life together was hit-and-miss. And that was hard.
3. Marriage Counselling Gives you Tools
Have you ever tried to complete a project only to find out you have been using the wrong tools? I have. The crazy thing is that a project which starts out as frustrating and haphazard can almost immediately become more fluid and purposeful once the right tools are acquired. Whether it’s dull sewing scissors, or an incorrectly sized bit for your screw driver, having the right tools has a huge bearing on the time it can take to make progress as well as the quality of your results. It’s the same for a marriage. It’s possible to make progress on your own, especially if you have some of the right tools, but everything is so much less frustrating when you have the correct tools for the job. One thing that has especially helped me and my husband with our fumbling is a specific pattern for communicating that we have learned to follow (insert link). Now that we’re getting good at it, communicating our needs can be like a breath of fresh air instead of like trudging through the mud.
4. Marriage Counselling Can Be Enjoyable
“Marriage is something that’s full of bliss and beauty and marriage counselling is where sad and angry people go before they choose to get divorced.”
It seems silly now, but I think that was roughly the picture that I had of marriage counselling before I experienced it. I think I also thought that somehow a counsellor would have to take sides in exposing the flaws of an individual spouse. In reality, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find that we felt closer to each other both during and after a counselling session. This is not to say that a session with our counsellor wasn’t hard and even emotionally draining, but we found that the questions that were posed to us and the kinds of things that we were directed to explain made us both feel validated and understood.
5. The Right Counsellor Can Make all the Difference
Before you choose a counsellor, do some serious research. The counsellor for you should be someone who holds similar values to you and your husband. He or she should also be someone who is very knowledgable in their field and who feels very approachable to you. We got very lucky with our counsellor. When we decided to seek someone out it wasn’t initially to see someone as a couple, but when I asked her if I could come along to the session (along with my sleeping newborn) to support my husband, she agreed without hesitation. She kept telling us that she was willing to do things however they worked for us… And that has made all the difference! If things aren’t going well with a specific counsellor, don’t give up! Find someone else who is willing and able to meet your needs. You won’t regret it!