This marriage therapy post is happening by accident.
Let me explain. Last week, I hopped onto my Instagram Stories to share some very important and profound thoughts on my daily life. (But also, that’s a lie. I ramble on and on and don’t know what I’m saying 63% of the time.)
I was talking about…my #ootd, I think, and I apologized for my cry face. (You know the deal: red nose, watery eyes. Really cute.) Offhandedly, I shared that The Mister and I had just gotten home from marriage therapy, where, shockingly, I had cried.
I said it in passing, not really thinking that therapy is a big deal.
Well, that’s where you guys come in.
Soon after, my inbox was flooded with DMs from you, thanking me for being so transparent and open about our therapy. You asked questions: Who do we see? How often do we go? Why do we go? Has it helped? How did I get The Mister to go? How do we fit it into our busy schedules?
Ohhhhh. We need to talk more about therapy. Right.
So, I asked if you’d like a full blog post on it, because, as we all know, I’m an open book. Not just about the good parts of life and my style, but also about the HARD life things. Especially about the HARD life things.
First, I want to share a little bit about my background with therapy.
When I was in high school, my mom decided to make a life switch. She left her career as an Interior Designer and went back to school to become a therapist. As are most high schoolers, I was way too wrapped up in my daily drama to even really notice. It didn’t mean much to me.
Fast forward a few years, past college and into my mid-20s and I started noticing. Gradually, Mom and I started talking about my childhood, how my parents’ divorce had shaped the way I feel about the world and love and safety, and challenges I was still working on overcoming.
Slowly and over time, words like “trigger,” “defensive,” and “emotional intelligence” were woven into our conversations, until they became the fabric of our relationship.
Over the next 10 years, my mom and I worked through the trauma that we had gone through and I became very comfortable talking about the hard stuff. I went to my own therapy and found it helpful and refreshing.
I met The Mister in early 2011, and quickly learned it was easy to work on myself and my “issues” when I was single. Being in a relationship was a whole different ballgame.
The Mister had a very different view of therapy than I did.
As an independent doer and the hardest working man I’d ever met, he was all logic when it came to dealing with our complicated and often conflicting emotions. We could fix it. We could stop having the same fight over and over. The cycle wasn’t productive, so we needed to change it.
Turns out, it wasn’t that easy and over time, The Mister and I both knew it was time to get some help.
OK, time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about marriage therapy:
HOW DID YOU KNOW YOU NEEDED MARRIAGE THERAPY?
This one is interesting. Most likely because of my background, I truly believe everyone needs therapy. Like, as a healthy part of life. As a couple, we knew we needed therapy when we kept having the same kind of fight. It wasn’t about the same thing each time, but the cycle was always the same. We knew we needed helped slowing it down and stopping the cycle.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR HUSBAND ON BOARD?
This is the most frequently asked question. As I mentioned, he wasn’t into the idea at first and I really tried not to push it, but I also never let the idea die. When he was finally open to the idea, I decided to let him choose the therapist, which I think helped a lot. He did some research and chose the therapist we still see today. Also, I didn’t box us into going for years or weekly. We started slowly and I let him dictate how often he wanted to go.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO?
We try to go every other week. Some months are better than others, and we are thankful that our therapist is flexible enough with us that if we have a lull in sessions, we’re able to pick back up when life allows.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU FOUND THE RIGHT MARRIAGE THERAPIST FOR YOU?
This is tough and probably the most daunting thing about starting therapy. I’ve been to both awesome and not-so-awesome therapists and for me, it mostly comes down to a gut feeling. If a therapist is taking sides, or telling me what I “should” do, my red flag goes up.
A good way to start is to search “Emotionally Focused Therapy” in your area. Read reviews and then schedule an appointment. Give it a few appointments before you write someone off (unless your gut is strongly saying NO).
HOW DO YOU FIT YOUR APPOINTMENTS INTO YOUR ALREADY BUSY SCHEDULE?
We both prioritize our therapy appointments, much like a Dr’s appointment. We try to schedule out 2 or 3 appointments so we can plan life around them.
DID STARTING MARRIAGE THERAPY CREATE MORE PROBLEMS IN THE BEGINNING?
I totally understand this fear, and actually I feel it before almost every session if we’re in a good place. But, then I have to remind myself that whatever we talk about in therapy are feelings that are still there and at play, whether we’re talking about them at home or not.
At the beginning it can feel a little bit like cleaning out a closet that you’ve wanted to organize for awhile. It can get messier when you start cleaning it out. You may stop in the middle, look around and say “What was I thinking?” and you might just want to shut the door. But, then you remember the goal is a clean, functional closet, so you keep going. And slowly, it comes together.
HOW EARLY IN YOUR MARRIAGE DID YOU START GOING?
We started going around 2 years after we got married. As my mom says, most couples are unhappy for 7 years before they go to therapy. Don’t wait! The earlier you go, the better chance you have to change behaviors. Also, her direct quote: “Go before you hate each other.” 😉
HOW MUCH DOES WEEKLY MARRIAGE THERAPY COST?
I think this will vary and depends on your therapist – if he/she takes insurance, etc. It doesn’t hurt to talk about fee at the first session.
WHAT’S THE VERY FIRST SESSION LIKE?
Awkward! And nerve-wracking. (You guys. A few years into it and I’m still nervous before each session.) But, don’t let the nerves stop you. It can be scary to trust this new person who is asking personal questions. But, as long as you and your partner are comfortable with your therapist choice, trust the process and chances are it’s going to be ok.
DO YOU GO FOR A SPECIFIC REASON? WE JUST STARTED AND I’M AFRAID IT’S NOT HELPFUL.
Ahh, I totally understand this fear! The process can be slow and sometimes it feels like we’re not making enough progress. And then, we have a total breakthrough in a session that helps us leap forward as a couple. The progress isn’t linear, so it can be frustrating. As long as you both like your therapist, trust that with hard work, small changes are happening.
We don’t have a specific reason (or maybe we have many specific reasons?) for going, but here’s what we do: When we’re in the session, we recall an argument we’ve recently had. Then, it plays out in real time and our therapist can see what’s going on and can help us slow it down to talk about our feelings beneath our actions.
Please let me know if you have any more questions! Remember, this is about our experience, and I’m definitely not a therapist or a marriage scientist. 🙂
I have seen marriage therapy work wonders in my marriage, and I want to spread the love and as always, help it become a part of our every day conversation. Therapy is not shameful – t’s a healthy part of life and marriage and a sign of strength.
Thank you for stopping by, sweet friends.
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Read 5 things we’ve learned in 5 years of marriage here!