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Seven years have passed since I left my wife. We had been married for 30 years but I had reached the stage where I no longer loved her as a wife – it was more as someone like a sister. I felt trapped and many people, including close family and friends, questioned what I was doing. They suspected I was seeing someone else. I wasn’t at the time. I just felt I had to leave her. What was the alternative? Remaining where I was and living a lie? I just wasn’t prepared to do that.
About three weeks after I left, my wife arranged for us to see a counsellor who specialised in couples counselling. Often referred to as marriage guidance counsellors, our counsellor sought to ascertain if we would benefit from relationship therapy. The one thing we all agreed on was that our relationship was as stale as a month-old loaf of bread. We were living separate lives, sleeping not only in separate beds but separate bedrooms. I no longer understood my wife and began to resent her making me unhappy.
The counsellor did her very best, but the ship had sailed and was never to return to port. However, it did make me think why we hadn’t tried couples counselling years ago.
For any couple going through a similar experience couples counselling may be something of a daunting prospect. Many people may find it more difficult than individual therapy. After all, you’re exposing your inner-most feelings and thoughts to someone who will listen to you – but your partner will also be there ready to disagree and quite possibly condemn your opinions.
There’s also the possibility that speaking the truth – as I did during our couple of sessions – will upset or hurt your partner even more and deepen the marital crisis you’re already in. Fully trained counsellors are trained to be impartial but it’s the nature of the beast that one of the couples – or perhaps both – will feel the counsellor favours them more.
However, if you can overcome those fears the rewards of couple counselling can be greater than that of individual counselling. Couples can feel that the very fact they are both attending counselling together is a positive in itself. Perhaps a sense of relief that finally, after all the bickering and frustration over each other’s behaviour there is a sense of relief – and hope – that something can be salvaged to save their marriage. And it’s clear evidence – in most cases – that they both care. In my case I knew my marriage was beyond repair as I no longer loved my wife. However, I still cared enough about her to at least find out what couples counselling could do – and the service provided to us left me very impressed.
If couples have loved each other enough to share a home together and perhaps raise a
family then seeing a couples counsellor together – like so many other things they have done as a couple – just may provide them with the support they need to turn things around.