I mentioned earlier this week that I may dabble in a few more serious topics in the coming months, and today I’m ready to talk about one that has been on my mind for a long time, but I haven’t really had the guts to open up and talk about some of the hard things of life since it’s a big shift to talk about marital problems when you usually post about happy feel good dates and family.
No, I’m not it crisis and Jacob and I are great, but sometimes I just feel a lack of authenticity not talking about my previous life and marriage and why I’m so grateful for the life I have now. I was reached out to by Louis Laves-Webb LCSW, LPC-S, asking if I’d be willing to write a sponsored post on couple’s therapy, and I actually saw this as an opportunity 1. to buy groceries this week 2. to open up about something that’s near and dear to my heart.
There’s such a stark contrast between my current life and my life eight years ago that sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that both are real. I feel so grateful for an honestly pretty privileged life with an amazing husband who does anything for our marriage. It often has me looking at my past marriage and thinking it was all just some bad dream. It feels distant and strange, and the extremes of abuse and fearing for my life versus the happy state I’m in now are so stark in contrast that it really is just weird to realize both are a part of who I am.
I really am such an advocate for doing anything you can to work through problems. I think there are certainly exceptions, but most issues if tackled early on can be something that couples can resolve. I know many happy marriages that were once on the brink of divorce and a little third-party intervention saved them.
I’m a firm believer every marriage needs some therapy- maybe formal counseling, or that may mean a weekly meeting to talk about how things are going and what you can help each other with. That may mean reading a self help book together and talking about it. That may mean going out with your best couple friends, separating, and asking for advice on how to resolve a problem (now that’s sitcom material right there). I think more often than we like to admit, a 3rd party may be needed to mediate the issue.
With my ex husband I have two regrets only: 1. I worked too much as a first year teacher and I wasn’t around to spend more time and energy on my marriage. It wasn’t by choice, but I’m sorry I was in a difficult time of life. 2. I’m sorry we didn’t go to therapy until we were on the last straw, and he was already so deep into lies and affairs, and the abuse was so bad, I just needed to be freed. I’ve often wondered if we could have got help with the first lie he told that I knew was a lie, could we have had help? I’ll never know for sure, but I do know therapy came way too late.
I’m obviously glad that didn’t pan out. It was the greatest blessing of my life to have got out of such a terrible situation! It took years to shake the night terror of the day I thought he was going to kill me. But I still wonder what if some intervention could have happened in those first few months at the first sign of emotional abuse and pornography addiction.
The night Jacob asked me to date exclusively I erupted into two hours talking about abuse and issues and why he didn’t want to put up with me. He listened, and then asked if I would answer his question, did I want to date exclusively? He’s a saint, and I have to honestly say we haven’t had to go to formal counseling ever, but it’s something we very openly talked about dating. It’s a topic I think all couples need to discuss before any problems arise, are we open to counseling if the time comes and we need it?
I went through a lot of therapy on my own to get to where I am today. I love the man I spent so many hours crying with and working through issues with. He’ll always be a saving grace in my life. I could never have come up with tactics to work through certain issues without him.
As happy as I am now, there have been a few triggers in my life that have caused some mental lapses on all the progress I’ve made in my life. I’ve had girls contact me he cheated on me with and ask for information. Each time I have to open up details and relive specifics I’m a little shook up for a few days. Each time Jacob asks, “Do you want to go back and see your therapist? Do you want to go alone, or want me to come with you?”
I’m so grateful he understands that sometimes there are issues greater than me, and sometimes they impact my current life. I’m so grateful for a therapist who saw me through problems. I honestly ache that therapy is still so faux pas that many individuals and couples never go and continue to suffer.
For anyone who is reading this that may be hurting in their personal life or marriage I can’t urge you enough to bite the bullet, make the call, and go. Many insurances cover a few sessions for free. Many therapists will work with you on the price. And so many marriages could be worked through and saved with a little help.
And I’d feel like a sham if I didn’t acknowledge that sometimes getting out is the best thing one can do. Sometimes abuse or mistrust is so strong that’s the right answer. As much as I’m a marriage advocate, I’m also a divorce advocate when the person feels it’s right and when serious abuse is present, or any physical abuse for that matter. However, I have to say it was a couple’s therapist who met with me one night when my ex ditched the appointment for a date with another woman who helped me see I was the only one working on my marriage, and helped me realize that maybe divorce was the right option.
I’m grateful that there’s help in a world where relationships struggle. I’m grateful sometimes we need help to see that leaving is the right choice. I’m more grateful for the people who see issues and subjectively help to resolve them.
A very very kind (now x) boyfriend once told me that going to therapy of any sort was kind of like getting a teeth cleaning.* You do it every 6 months to stay healthy, no matter what. You do it to clean out the plaque and gunk, to find any problems when they are small and easily manageable, and to prevent major issues down the road that would require a root canal. I love that whole idea. We do check-ups for our bodies, our teeth, our eyes, and adjust prescriptions and behaviors and routines accordingly to maintain and improve optimal health. Why should it be any different with your heart and brain and emotions!? (Answer: it shouldn't!)
*Said x-boyfriend was in his final year of dental school at the time, and I know I was a LOT to handle, being fresh out of a nasty marriage, but he came up with the tooth-cleaning/therapy analogy all by himself and I have used it every since. Such a great perspective.
This is an incredible post and a beautiful insight, and I am so impressed that you have shared it with the world as you have. That takes incredible courage, and it's inspiring. I haven't been in the same situation as you have, but I feel that I can relate in some way for different, more personal reasons that do impact my relationship on their own sometimes. The stigma surrounding therapy, mental issues, and triggers is so strong, that it's hard to remember that just biting the bullet and getting help could be the best thing for you or your relationships or anything else. Thank you for sharing xx
I was almost engaged to a guy that had a porn addiction (he had a ring he hadn't given to me and I had a wedding dress). We had dated for two years and I was devastated. I was having major trust issues and hadn't quite worked out how neglected and manipulated I had been at times. I met my husband a few months after dumping him for good. When Devin wanted to date me exclusively, we had a really similar conversation as you and your husband did. I talked about my counseling and I talked about triggers etc. I'm glad I had the experience I did because it will change how I parent, but I wouldn't ever choose it again. I'm sorry you experienced what you did, but I am so happy you got the marriage you deserved all along!!