There's Nothing Wrong With Couples Therapy

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female therapist counseling female patient
Many couples view couples therapy as the kiss of death, but it can actually save your relationship.

There are topics people won't touch at cocktail parties because it's not "polite conversation." These are subjects people secretly want to discuss, but, when broached over hummus and Merlot, make them uncomfortable. These are precisely the things I love talking about. So here goes: My husband and I just graduated from couple's therapy.

We started going about two years ago. We had just gotten back from a vacation with friends in the Bahamas with our then-3-year-old twins. There's something about couples in trouble and the Caribbean, an unspoken belief that perhaps the turquoise water will bring clarity. That the sun and sand will somehow breathe new life into a choking, gasping union. I know several couples who returned from a Caribbean vacation and immediately divorced.

 

I remember sitting on the beach alone one night after a particularly bad fight, thinking The Caribbean is a relationship graveyard. It's where bad marriages go to die.

When we returned home I told my husband I was either calling a therapist or a lawyer. It was his choice. The Frisky: Girl Talk: I Dragged My Husband To Marital Therapy

Not knowing who to go to for a recommendation, I clicked onto PsychologyToday.com and looked up therapists in our area. I decided a man would be best because I didn't want my husband to feel ganged up on. There was only one guy who had a picture. He had a really warm, sort of goofy smile that made me instantly like him. I went with my gut and made an appointment.

Is my writing about this making you uncomfortable? OK, take how awkward you feel reading this article about couple's therapy and multiply that feeling by a thousand: That's how it feels to actually go for the first time. And the second. And the twenty-second, come to think of it.

I'm not a wealthy, Jewish woman from the Upper East Side. I'm an Irish-Catholic from New Jersey. We don't talk about our problems. We cloak ourselves in them until they harden to a shiny, impervious shell. Remember that scene between Matt Damon's character and his girlfriend in "The Departed"? "If we're not gonna make it, it's gotta be you who gets out, 'cause I'm not capable. I'm f**king Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life." The Frisky: Secrets To A Long Happy Marriage

We enter the therapist's office, ring a little doorbell mounted to the wall in the waiting area and take a seat. I pick up Real Simple and pretend to read it. My husband pretends to read Time. A few minutes later the couple in the time slot before us comes out. We all smile sheepishly, trying to pretend we don't see each other's guts all over the floor. Then my husband and I go in and sit down. I stare at the therapist. He stares at the therapist. We examine our shoes, make small talk. I'm not going to lie. It's uncomfortable. I think of what Sigmund Freud said about the Irish: "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever."

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