I'm trying to convince my wife to attend marriage counselling with me, but I'm having a hard time doing so. Her opinion of marriage counselling (based on what she's read online) is that it's a waste of money and that a marriage counsellor would "only tell us what we already know." When I've pointed out that a marriage counsellor is there to help facilitate communication, her response has been "if we need a facilitator to help us communicate we're fucked anyway."
Reasons for needing counselling + bonus snowflakery inside. Apologies; it turned into a bit of a mind-dumpy wall of text.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
We've been married for 3 years and a couple for more than a decade (we were high school sweethearts). For a long time, probably as long as I can remember, we've had communication problems of one sort or another. This has varied from straightforward but common misunderstandings (she says "will you vacuum the lounge," at 9pm, I hear "... tomorrow," she means "... right now.", that sort of thing) to outright being-unable-to-express-how-we-feel-without-an-argument-happening. Recently, we're swinging back towards the latter, due initially (as far as I can tell) to work-related stress on her side, but now also because I feel like I'm not being listened to very closely.
There seems to be a mismatch of communication: I listen a great deal (have always been a good listener) but rarely talk about my day. I have noticed that I have a tendency now to not talk about my day at all, or to brush it away with "oh, the usual" because my wife will frequently interrupt with stories from _her_ day (which, to be fair, are generally more interesting).
We had a serious rough patch about eight years ago. At the time, I shared my problems with friends online (working from home means that most of my friendships are virtual for much of the year). My wife found out after reading my email one day, and an almighty argument blew up. It became clear to me then that sharing our relationship woes with friends was a surefire way to make them worse, so I work very hard to keep them to myself, even though my friends know me well enough to know that all is not rosy. This means that I very much need to communicate clearly with my wife, which right now isn't happening.
I have always been absolutely faithful to my wife, and although I've had offers from others I've always been very clear (though polite) in turning them down. My wife is convinced, however, that one day I'm going to realise that she's a terrible wife and leave her. I have always tried to reassure her on this point, but have recently found myself developing feelings for one of my close friends. Since I'm aware that this is just grass-is-greener syndrome I've told my friend that I need some space to be able to deal with it rather than putting myself in a situation where I might do something stupid, but it still disturbs me.
I genuinely love my wife and want us to work this out, but at the same time I'm starting to wonder if the love hasn't become merely a platonic one. We haven't had penetrative sex in a long time (~10 months, more-or-less) and there seems to be very little desire from her for us to do so. This has mostly been to do with exhaustion from work, or hormonal contraceptive issues, but things have been in this state, on and off, for the last 3 years. Most sexual contact is of the form of me bringing her off with my hands or toys; she loses interest in sex after having an orgasm and in addition has massive confidence issues in her own abilities, which make it hard for her to get through giving me any kind of manual stimulation without stopping and asking "are you sure this is good?" even though I go out of my way to reassure her. If anything, she seems annoyed by how long it takes me to come.
You can see, then, friends, that we've got some issues to work through. I dearly, dearly want us to. But I'm becoming convinced that with all the baggage we have, we need some outside help in order to do so. I want to be able to show my wife that going to a therapist will not be a waste of time and money, but I'm not sure how. I don't want to be the guy that dragged his wife to somewhere she didn't want to be just for the sake of trying to make things work (if anything, surely, that would make things even worse).
Does anyone have any tips about how I could handle this?