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#219312 - 04/20/08 05:42 PM Couples counseling
Chagrin Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/18/08
Posts: 17
Loc: BC Canada

Just a quick question for those who are in or have ever been in couples counseling!

My husband has been doing his own private therapy sessions for about six months or so. I have gone to see his therapist once but have not done any sessions on my own. (I feel we can't afford it.)

He has mentioned to me that he would like to try couples counseling "in the future", but I understand that he has a lot to work through on his own first.

Just curious though, if we were to get started on couples therapy, when would be a "good time" for this in terms of where he is with his recovery, should we see the same therapist as he goes to for his private sessions, and is it really worthwhile when you feel like you already have a pretty solid foundation in your marriage??

Anyone? Anyone??

~ Chagrin \:\)

#219316 - 04/20/08 06:41 PM Re: Couples counseling [Re: Chagrin]
honey girl Offline

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 245
Loc: Midwest US
Dear Chagrin,

I know that you have already taken some big steps in disclosure here, and I applaud you for having done so. The thing is, anyone who is interested in "family systems" approaches to therapy is going to point out to you that changes in one partner will elicit some sort of reaction in the other. Are YOU ready to start taking on these issues? Is that why you're asking about joint therapy now?

One of the most important lessons I take away from MS F&F is the utter necessity of tending to my own garden, not simply focusing on the "issues" of my partner. No matter how content you are in your marriage, are you really happy with the prospect of it staying as it is, for the rest of your lives? What do YOU want to figure out about your place in your marriage, and your own goals in your life?

You will hear from a number of other people who have had the same therapist for their couple's counseling as one--or even both--of the partners are seeing individually. I am not one of those. I'm not a therapist, just a long-time consumer of MH services, and my own take is that it's really much better to have separate therapists. It's simply asking too much of someone to be a good ally to both when there has already been a primary therapeutic bond established with one. There may well be instances when you and your husband have competing interests, not merely competing or at least incompatible perspectives--and then what?

Good luck to you as you work through all of these questions.


I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, a million miles away from home.

#219324 - 04/20/08 07:57 PM Re: Couples counseling [Re: Chagrin]
WalkingSouth Offline

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16270
Loc: Waldport, Oregon
Originally Posted By: Chagrin
Just curious though, if we were to get started on couples therapy, when would be a "good time" for this in terms of where he is with his recovery, should we see the same therapist as he goes to for his private sessions, and is it really worthwhile when you feel like you already have a pretty solid foundation in your marriage??

I participate in a mixed peer support group most Saturday mornings it lasts from an hour to hour and a half. Yesterday one of the volunteer facilitators who is himself a therapist made mention of a phenomenon he sees played out repeatedly in the course of his practice working with survivors of various emotional, physical, and sexual traumas. He stated that when only one partner in the relationship is involved in therapy the incidence of divorce among those couples is compounded exponentially.

He further stated that not only should the couple should be involved in couples therapy but that the non-survivor partner may also want or need to be involved in personal therapy as well.

The standard procedure if for neither partner to have the same therapist and for couples therapy for there to be a third therapist with agreements signed for consultation between therapists if anyone feels it necessary for a clearer picture.

Bottom line is that couples therapy is very important for you as a couple during this time. One of the things that happens is that when one partner starts therapy they begin to learn and to grow. Often, after some time passes, the other partner begins to feel threatened in some way by the growth experienced by the other.

A classic example of that is the story told by a therapist friend of mine. He tells the story of a woman who kept after him to get her husband to quit his drinking because he was an alcoholic. Several years went by with the husband going to regular therapy and the wife tagging along on the rare occasion and always hammering on the drinking issue. Well, one day the husband realized his drinking was a huge issue in his life, went to AA, quit avoiding the issues that were causing the drinking in the first place, and got his proverbial s**t together.

Not long after that he returned home one evening from a hard days work to find a candlelight dinner prepared by his wife. She had his favorite foods fixed, the lights turned down low, romantic music playing, and in front of his plate was a bottle of his formerly favorite hard liquor. That marriage ended in divorce because the wife discovered she was more comfortable with things the way they had been than with her new and improved husband, and that she was unwilling to make the necessary changes in her own life to compliment the positive changes in him.

True story. I don't tell it to suggest that you or any of the other F&F here are like this woman, but to demonstrate the importance of both partners in the relationship moving together toward recovery and wholeness.

Lots of love,


"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting 'Holy Shit! What a ride!'" ~Hunter S. Thompson

#219327 - 04/20/08 08:44 PM Re: Couples counseling [Re: Chagrin]
Chagrin Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/18/08
Posts: 17
Loc: BC Canada
Hi Honey Girl,

Thank you for your reply. It is helpful.

My questions, however, are what they are. Just questions! \:\) I would certainly try my own individual therapy if I could afford it, but for now we have to make do. I've just been curious about couples counseling lately because I've never done any therapy sessions and I don't know what to expect or when might be a beneficial time to start, if at all.

I am working hard on learning how to take care of myself, which has actually been a big deal for me. I feel sometimes as though I am healing parts of myself through all this, because you're so right, when one partner changes it does elicit reaction from the other!!

My husband is my very best friend and I love him dearly. Since he started the recovery process our relationship has only gotten better and stronger. Even though I am not happy with "our situation" and, as you can see from another post a while ago, it gets me down at times, I am just not willing to rip apart what we do have because of it. I have sacrificed a few things for him! It hurts like hell, but probably nothing even closely compared to the hurt he feels.

Right now him and I are doing the best we can in our own separate parts to keep "us" healthy and as long as I see that forward motion from both of us I can be happy with what we have and what life brings us.

Some very valid points about seeing a separate therapist for my own or for couples counseling. Thank you!

~ Chagrin \:\)

#219381 - 04/21/08 12:46 AM Re: Couples counseling [Re: Chagrin]
LandOfShadow Offline

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
My partner and I did couples counciling for 6 months, and we've done therapy separately for 1 1/2 years since. Definately it's completely changing each and both together. I'd say find some way, even free options to explore your side of the relationship openly.

A couples therapist should be separate so their view is balanced of you individually. I'd be suspicious of lengthy couples work with your husbands individual.

Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you

Paul Eluard

#219424 - 04/21/08 07:00 AM Re: Couples counseling [Re: LandOfShadow]
LittleMissL Offline
New Here

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 42
Hi there, the therapist that both my husband and I are seeing just brought this up at my last appointment. When he thinks hubby is ready, we will have some therapy sessions together. So I guess that is my anwer to you about when is the right time to do a joint appt. When your husband and the therapist think the time it right then go for it.

I know everyone's experience is different but I am glad that we are both seeing the same therapist. He does not divulge any info about what we say in our sessions to each other, but he is able to take what we say and use it to help guide us on the issues that need to be worked on.


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