A Word of Caution About Marital Therapy

Some couples seek marriage therapy for the wrong reasons. Often subconsciously, one or both parties doesn’t want a solution. Instead, one spouse wants to see the other humiliated, shamed and/or corrected. By whom? By the therapist.

On one level, it makes sense. Couples in conflict have reached a point of impasse. Each sincerely believes he or she is right, and the other is wrong. Emotionally, it makes logical sense that to some degree, your hope is that the therapist — kind of sitting in the throne of “God” or Truth — will validate your deepest convictions.

But that’s not how it works. If it did work that way, then your marriage would be over, for sure. Because if your spouse DOES deserve shame and humiliation, that means he or she is a fundamentally bad person. Or, if not a bad person, at least one so fundamentally wrong and misguided that any kind of resolution is impossible.

Relationships of all kinds — including marriages — sometimes require negotiation. Negotiation can be over a physical, tangible thing, but more often — in a marriage — it involves something intangible. The purpose of marriage therapy is to figure out what that is, and to consider what you’re prepared to offer in any kind of a negotiation. A good therapist is able and willing to help you with that — both you and your spouse.

Some differences are irreconcilable, and many are not. But if you approach your marriage as if the two of you are adversaries and one of you must be shamed or corrected, then you’re on the downward slope to a break-up. So be careful!


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