My Marriage Counselor Said I Lacked 2 Important Relationship Necessities

Woman speaking to marriage counselor coming to realization

I was sitting with a few friends at a local restaurant. We had just ordered lunch and they were sympathizing with my divorce experience. They thought the extreme financial abuse my husband was inflicting was horrifying.

"Why does this always happen to the kindest women?" said one of my friends.

"I know," said my other friend. "Why is it always the kindest women that seem to have men do this to them?"

I loved that my friends were so gracious and extended that moniker toward me. But I had just learned something in marriage counseling.

It was what got this 'kind' girl into so much relationship trouble.

"It’s not about being kind," I said. "I know a lot of kind women who haven’t found themselves in this situation."

My friends leaned in to hear more.

"It’s about being kind to an extreme," I said. "There are a lot of kind women who know when to say enough and make it clear they can only be pushed so far. They have healthy boundaries. Unfortunately, I did not. My marriage counselor said I lacked any self-protective instincts or boundaries."

RELATED: 16 Signs You're Way Too Nice For Your Own Good

It felt emancipating to have this type of clarification.

Because I felt sorry for myself at the beginning of marriage counseling.

My husband had not done right by me. There’s no denying it. Our marriage counselor validated it.

But at some point, after my husband refused to return to therapy, our counselor was left with only me. And good counselors teach us about ourselves. They empower us and promote healing.

"Colleen," said my marriage counselor. "You lack self-protective instincts and boundaries."

It wouldn’t be the first time he would tell me this.

I was a tough student.

I wanted to grow. I wanted to evolve. I wanted to learn. I wanted to change my unhealthier behaviors. It just is easier said than done. It takes time and practice to go against the grain of who you’ve always been.

RELATED: 7 Healthy Boundaries To Set In Your Relationship Immediately

In short, I tolerated too much.

I made excuses for my husband’s bad behavior for too long.

The lack of self-protective instincts and boundaries took me down. Things got out of control. I gave my power away to another human being. My life was ruled by my husband.

Divorce only amplified this fact.

The divorce financial abuse was a symptom of a relationship that had gotten out of control.

RELATED: How To Recognize Financial Abuse In A Marriage

My husband was who he was. He did all of the bad things he did. All of that is attached to him and only him. 

But I should have gotten out of my marriage sooner.

Our marriage had been unhealthy for years because I continued to tolerate intolerable behavior in favor of making excuses for him and wanting to see the best in him. I should have developed enough self-protection and boundaries to reject the idea of taking him back multiple times.

I should have kicked him and his bad behavior to the curb long before we started the cycle of him leaving and me taking him back.

But I lacked two important relationship necessities: Self-protective instincts and boundaries are essential for healthy relationships.

RELATED: I Know Marriage Counseling Led To My Divorce But I Don’t Regret It

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.