You are here

Sorta O/T: Marriage counseling

momjeans's picture

I’ll preface this with I’ve always wanted us to go to marriage counseling, starting years ago.

I reached my proverbial tipping point a couple weeks ago and insisted that we go - preferably before the end of the year and especially before I’m forced to engage with DH’s parents on Christmas.

I hopped on Good Therapy, found a local therapist that met our crazy schedule needs and specialized in high conflict marriage counseling. I called and made an appointment.

Therapist wanted to do a solo appt each, with the third appointment being our first couple session.

Today was the my appointment. DH’s is tomorrow.

I laid it all out there: Our marital issues in regards to DH’s lack of transparency; DH’s defensiveness regarding all the toxicity and dysfunction in regards to his parent’s behavior and unhealthy attachment to skid and alliance with BM; and just skid issues in general like the court order not being complied to (with the help of his parents).

Towards the end of my appointment, the therapist tells me she’s not going to sugarcoat anything, that she’ll try her hardest to help save my marriage, but that I should inevitably just divorce DH.

With a DH who is in the fog and extremely defensive in regards to how HCBM is dealt with, and his super dysfunctional parents and their involvement, who are vehemently against attending family therapy with us, that I should just start socking away money and make an exit plan to get a divorce. 

I saw this coming. I cannot say she is wrong. 



Merry's picture

I'm sorry. I hope your therapist is wrong and your DH can learn some new behaviors.

But I'd take her advice to sock away money and start planning an exit, given the apparent long odds of success. No harm in saving money.

futurobrillante99's picture

I'm sad that your therapist came to this conclusion before meeting your husband. I think it would have been wise to hear "both sides" so I find that troubling. I don't think she's wrong. I think you're credible and believable, so that's why she said what she did. I guess I would just expect any therapist to stay neutral until both sides are heard.

I do, however, like her suggestion that you prepare for the possibility of splitting up. It never hurts to prepare for being independent because no one is promised another day above ground and you never know when you might have to go it alone.


I can just sense the anxiety and hurt you're going through - the memory of mine is still fresh.

momjeans's picture

Thanks so much, futuro.

I agree, it’s a little quick to come out of the gate with that response, and without even meeting with my husband first, but my inlaw situation, for all of those following along at home, is just so incredibly destructive to our marriage. 

Add in there the BM and skid dynamics, it’s just so intolerable and soul crushing. 

Thank you for the hugs. Smile

Exjuliemccoy's picture


On one hand, it's nice to see a therapist who isn't vague and doesn't sugarcoat things. But like Futuro said, for her to give advice before meeting your DH is a little concerning. She should be in the fact finding phase, and not be so quick to judge.

It will be interesting to see where things go after she meets with your DH. And no harm in preparing for a rainy day.

Please keep us updated, momjeans. I'm really curious about what more this therapist has to say. With advice like that, I can't imagine how she pays her bills. 

futurobrillante99's picture

Exactly Julie. When therapists make snap judgments it's sometimes through the filter of their own relationship experiences.

But what she doesn't know is whether or not Mr. Momjeans can be reasoned with by a third party or his commitment to making the marriage work. The fact he's agreed to counseling is a GOOD sign so she shouldn't prejudge what the prospects for success are.

I was seeing a therapist before I met XH2. When I started seeing XH2, I must have given enough detail for her to realize who he was because, it turns out, she had counseled BM, too. I found out from XH2 that BM had gone to her and my therapist never divulged this information, but as soon as she realized who he was, she started on a very negative campaign. Granted, I was still wearing rose colored glasses, but her tack was WRONG. If she had tried to get me grounded in my values and self respect, or addressed my anxiety, maybe I would have come to my senses sooner. But because she had formed an opinion of him based on BM's experience, she was incredibly biased. I'm sure she had my best interests at heart, but her approach pissed me off and I fired her as my therapist.

The next therapist I saw was much better - a man. He helped me get centered and able to manage my own anxiety so my mind was clear. Once I was back on solid footing with my emotions and anxiety, I was better able to see the dysfunction and set boundaries. That was probably the beginning of the end for XH2 and I. Of course, everyone here helped me stay grounded, too.

In the 4 years I was with XH2, I saw 4 therapists and the first one who had only seen BM was the only one who was biased and trying to influence me based on hearing one side of the story (from BM and me).

The therapist XH2 and I saw together which he and BM had also seen together was still very balanced despite having lots of prior information. She never told me to run nor did she say negative things about XH2.

The last therapist we saw together (changed because it was covered by insurance where the prior one was $90 a visit) also remained neutral and balanced. That therapist had seen me and XH1 when we were separated and he did level with me right in front of XH1, saying that from all he heard from XH1 that he couldn't help us. When XH1 made all the arguments for us to stay together, it was all practical and financial, and the therapist pointed out that not once did XH1 say a word about loving me and not being able to "live without me." He meant it was hopeless. And yet, he never said that about XH2 - he stayed on middle ground.

momjeans, please be really aware of how this therapist conducts herself. If your DH comes home from his visit feeling like she didn't listen but put him on the spot about some of the things you told her, she's not the right therapist even if it feels good that she's on your side. If your DH feels ganged up on or that the therapist is already biased, he won't agree to keep going.

strugglingSM's picture

I relate to a lot of what you shared and when I read this, my heart caught in my throat a bit, especially since the BM in my life is now threatening again to take DH to court over nothing and it caused me lots of anxiety. DH also continues to approach this mediation as if BM is a reasonable person who will consider what he wants and somehow decide that her wanting to mediate over the "promptness" of his emails is a waste of everyone's time. 

We also got in a huge fight this weekend where DH accused me of hating SSs. I told him that his kids can be pretty unlikable and it's on him, as the parent, to make them likable. He also told me that I hate his family, which I do, because they haven't been welcoming to me. One SIL has been openly hostile. I'm not sure why it's on me to like them, if they are still trying to decide what they think of me, after four years. 

That said, I agree with the comments above about the therapist. It was a red flag to me that she wanted to meet with you individually before meeting with you as a couple. My friend - who is a counselor - would say that you should never have marriage counseling with someone who has previously worked with you individually because they will be biased in your favor. Even though she is meeting with you as part of marriage counseling, she has met with you first and already formed a strong opinion based on meeting with you first, so she's shown some bias, already.  In my opinion, she should have met with both of you first to get a sense of how both of you are approaching things and then met with each one individually to do a little fact finding. She's now not only reached a conclusion herself, but also shared that conclusion with you, which predisposes you to think a certain way about the process as well. She's essentially told you that it's a long shot that you will want to stay married and she's not sure she can help you and I think that will ultimately color your view as well. If she had told you that after talking to both of you and seeing how you and your DH interact in a couple of sessions, then maybe she would seem more justified in her response, but it makes me very uneasy that she not only reached that conclusion so quickly, but also that she shared it with you. If I were you and if you seriously want to have a productive therapy session, I might look for someone else. 

Gimlet's picture

You're in a tough situation momjeans.  I've only been able to check in sporadically the last few weeks but I don't think I've missed any of your blogs.

Your DH's family is toxic.  You know that.  His BM is also toxic, which you also know.  Skid is going to grow up to be toxic if this continues unabated, not to mention the impacts to you and your kids.

I come from an emeshed, unhealthy bucket of crabs myself.  I'll tell you firsthand, even given how awful they were, it's hard to get out.  Getting out means setting boundaries - really hard, firm boundaries and then enforcing them.  Enforcing them when your family start throwing everything at you that they can, and using their intimate knowledge of you and your weaknesses to their best advantage. It's easy to want to just smooth things over, play the peacemaker, not rock the boat.  The thing is, it doesn't fix anything, it just buys you time until the next event and leaves you with a pit in your stomach because deep down you know it's not over and probably never will be. 

Your DH has a decision to make.  Does he want to do the hard work, and accept that he might have to drastically change his relationships, or does he want to throw away the only healthy people in his life?  That toxic stew and healthy people will not and cannot co-exist and no amount of smoothing it over, or not telling you the details, or making excuses is going to change that fact.  He can do it, if he wants to do it and if he sees the situation for what it really is.  People who love you don't manipulate you.  They don't undermine you and they certaiinly don't shit all over the important people in your life.  If nothing else, your husband should be standing between his family (you and the kids) and them, and he's not even doing that.

This therapist may have jumped the gun, but I do think the advice to get your ducks in a row is solid.  I'll be curious to see how your husband's session goes.  

((Hugs)) and best of luck.

notasm3's picture

I have a different take on this.  I don't necessarily think that the therapist has "taken your side".  I personally believe that EVERYONE should have an exit strategy.  Not necessarily about divorce - but sometimes people die - not just old people.  As remote as it may be things happen in life and no one can count on things staying the same.

I love my DH.  He's been great.  He's one of the best DHs about not forcing SS34 on me.  Yes he would love it if I would forgive SS and let him back in my life (not happening).  Now that I am having some serious health issue (not life threatening but mobility challenging) he is there for me 24/7.  He's a great husband.  My friends all rave about him.

Yet in the far recesses of my brain I have plans about what I would do if he was not there.  But I'm a planner and always want to have a fallback position.


Kes's picture

I used to be a couples counsellor and I would say that it is very bad policy for a counsellor to make pronouncements such as this any time during counselling, and much less on your first session when she hasn't met both partners.  But hey, maybe she's right. 

Iamwoman's picture

HI Momjeans, maybe the therapist will try to help you both more after she speaks with DH. She might just be giving you back-up advice.

Whether that's the case or not, I would watch her very carefully durinig your first couples meeting with her. Make sure she isn't being one-sided and coming down ONLY on your DH. A good therapist will make all parties believe she is on their side. If she comes down too hard on DH, and acts as if you are the innocent party, he may resent the implications and of course the therapy won't work. She needs to give you both things to work on (at least in the first few sessions)  Smile

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Is your husband emotionally, physically or financially abusing you? Does he give you the silent treatment?

How is your marriage when the stepdemon is away? Does your husband put you first or not?

It’s true, though, that most marriages with sh!tty exes and stepbrats falter eventually.

I guess hope for the best but prepare for the worst. My marriage is pretty good but if my DH gets lethal cancer or dies in an accident I’m f*cked, eventually.

That scares the sh!t out of me.