After my daughter had been in the hospital the first time and then the second time, I decided that it was time for my husband and I to see a marriage counselor. We weren’t on the brink of divorce and our marriage wasn’t “in trouble.” It’s just that we were having a hard time dealing with the all the stress that had happened in a few month’s time.
My son has special needs, then my daughter was born and it was one thing after another. I finally realized that we needed a little help or we were going to go insane dealing with all this by ourselves. We haven’t been back in a few weeks due to going out of state to get help with my daughter’s health issues, but we hope to get back into it soon as it has been such a huge help and encouragement to both of us.
We have learned so much in so little time in marriage counseling, so I thought I would share a few concepts that have really helped us and that maybe in sharing them, they will help you too!
What I Learned in Marriage Counseling:
1. It’s Not About the Nail
Just watch the video. It will all make sense after you watch the video:
Did you watch it? Yup. It’s not about the nail…
2. Guys Need to Know When You Want Them to Fix it vs. When You Need to Vent
Yes, guys like to try to fix our problems, but what I have learned is we’ve got to help them out. Sometimes there are times I really want my husband to fix the problem, other times I just really need someone to vent to. Sometimes I need a little of both.
Now, instead of instead of letting my husband guess at what I am wanting or making him figure it out for himself, I tell him ahead of time, “I need to vent” or “I need you to fix this.” Sometimes if I get ahead of myself he will ask me: “Is this something I need to fix or are you needing to vent?” I love this method because it helps us communicate and helps us understand each other better.
3. One word: Expectations
It’s amazing how one little word can change everything. Our counselor introduced the idea of telling each other our expectations as a way to communicate. My husband and I are the type of people to assume. I assume he wants to watch tv because neither of us move to go to bed. He assumes the same since I don’t move either, but in our heads both of us really wanted to go to bed early.
Another example is this: My husband comes home from a long day at work, and all he wants is a few minutes to himself. A break. A nap. Something to help him unwind. My husband comes home from a long day at work, and for me, I see FREEDOM. Five minutes to myself, a shower, a snack, another adult to talk to… whatever.
The problem is we both expect different things. Both of us can’t get a break at the same time. We have kids to watch. Both of us are tired, both of us need a break, so we work on expectations. Some days, my husband will need a nap, other days I am going to really need a break. We have to work together, but we need to let each other know our expectations before he comes home.
Does he have a really bad headache? His expectations would be that when he comes home he needs a nap. And because he tells me his expectations I am understanding and willing. Did I have a really bad or draining day? Then I text him an hour or two before he comes home, “Honey, I just really need a break today.” Expectations. He knows that when he gets home it’s his turn to take the kids.
This has worked in so many areas of our lives and family. We will actually come up to each other occasionally and say, “Okay expectations…” and then give a list of some expectations we had for the day. When we began to understand each other’s expectations, we work together better and so many little things come together easier.
4. We are Different. And That’s Okay
My husband can be very OCD about things. He has a certain way he puts the groceries on the conveyor belt, a certain way the dishwasher must be loaded, and a place he always puts his keys. Me? It doesn’t matter what order I put the groceries on, I just get them on the belt. The dishes will get clean no matter how I put them in, and keys? Yeah sometimes they are in my purse and sometimes they are wherever I left them last.
We are different and sometimes those differences cause tension between us. But we are learning that differences aren’t bad. Just because I don’t do things the way my husband does, doesn’t mean it’s wrong and vice-versa. We have had to learn to let the differences go. We are two different people and that’s a good thing!
5. Men’s Minds Work in boxes, Woman Think Like Spaghetti
I don’t think I will ever forget it. We are sitting in marriage counseling talking, and my husband gets up and draws on the whiteboard next to us. He draws a bunch of boxes. Then on the other side he draws a bunch of squiggly lines that are all in a mess – he called them spaghetti.
The he explained how his mind worked within the bunches of boxes. First he would work at a problem within the first box. Then once that was solved, he would move on to the next box and the next box, until he finally solve the entire problem.
He said the way my mind worked was like spaghetti. I had all these thoughts going on and I was trying to think about them and fix them all at the same time. Each strand of “spaghetti” was just a piece of the problem.
The point of this was to show how differently our minds work and how we attacked a problem when one came up. It’s definitely helped me stop and think sometimes and remember that his mind works differently than mine and and while that’s not a bad thing, I need to give him time and patience to work within his “boxes” and not overwhelm him.
Men and women are so different and it’s amazing how we can come together in marriage and learn all these things about each other and learn how to work together as a team. I know that marriage counseling has changed our marriage, and I am glad I didn’t give up on trying to go.
What about YOU? Have you have been to marriage counseling? What are some things you have learned about your marriage?