How to wean my wife off therapy?
October 22, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

How can I wean my wife off of visiting her therapist? We are in the second year of our marriage, and having the typical disagreements about money. My wife started visiting a therapist nearly a year ago, shortly after the death of her father. I don't ask much about her therapy, but my impression is that she discusses everything under the sun. cont'd...

Her visits cost around $70 per visit, and she goes once a week. This is one of my biggest issues about our budget, but I don't feel like I can ask her about discontinuing the therapy because of the sensitive nature of it - i.e. its easier to say "please stop spending money on music" than it is to say "please stop going to therapy."

My view on therapy is that everyone has lost someone, and many, many people make it through the death without paying for therapy. Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy. Thats what friends and family are for. Why are we still paying for this?
posted by reuscam to Human Relations (152 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Uh, don't do this. I don't think it's about your budget, I think it's about the fact that you think therapy is ineffective and wasteful, and you don't like that your wife has "fallen for it."

Find another way to work with it. Does she work? Can she pay for her therapy with her own funds? Is there something else she's willing to give up?
posted by liketitanic at 10:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, remember that her father died a year ago, IN HER FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE, which is also . . . kind of a big deal? And a difficult time? If the therapy helps her in her life, you want to tell her that she can't have that because you don't like it?
posted by liketitanic at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2010 [17 favorites]


Because she feels she needs it.

Does she earn her own money? Do you? Do you ever spend money on a habit or pasttime? Does she criticise you for it? Have you ever lost a parent - something which is very debilitating for many?

Fifty years ago, abortions and homosexuality were illegal, men weren't encouraged to talk about their feelings, and many things were swept under the carpet. We've become more enlightened than those stiff-upper-lip days, and a good thing too. Given your brusque view on bereavement, she may find it hard to speak to you, or at least feel she is being burdensome, which is where a professional is employed.
posted by mippy at 10:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [51 favorites]


I know I'm going to be one of a million people telling you not to do this, but please don't do this. Your wife wouldn't be going if she didn't feel that she needed it, and you need to support her. Believe me, I speak from experience when I say that if your spouse needs therapy, it is better for her to be going than not going.

You could possibly ask her to talk to her therapist about giving you a reduced rate. And I don't know if you have insurance or access to an FSA through one of your employers, but look into that as well. I was surprised a couple of years ago to find that my insurance would have covered part of therapy visits if I had bothered to submit them.
posted by something something at 10:49 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


my impression is that she discusses everything under the sun

If this is truly your impression, why do you think she only needs it to get over her father's death?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't mean to sound harsh, but: my father died when I was twenty-four, and six months later I had a nervous breakdown. I couldn't afford private therapy then, but it would have helped an awful lot.
posted by mippy at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy.

I don't see how you can know this. No one sank into a deep depression they never pulled out of 50 plus years ago? No one was so distraught they couldn't go on?
posted by JanetLand at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2010 [17 favorites]


If your wife was simply suffering from grief because of the loss of her beloved father, this would require little or no therapy. Grief is painful but it doesn't really rquire therapy in itself, and we get over it. Time heals all wounds, as they say. Personally I do still feel some sorrow about a death in my family that happened 39 years ago, but it does not really affect the way I live my life.

But there are many other possibilities. Perhaps your wife had a very traumatic childhood, perhaps she was abused by her father, in which case her psychological problems could be more difficult. And what if she also has a bi-polar disorder or some other serious problem which has turned what would otherwise be a simple case of grief into a much more difficult situation? Of course, I have no way of knowing what is going on with your wife. It is possible that she just feels that you are not paying enough attention to her, and at least her therapist does. But she should talk to you about it. Chances are, only she is really qualified to answer the question that you ask, Why are we still paying for this?
posted by grizzled at 10:52 AM on October 22, 2010


You can't win, so you might as well stop right now. What's more important, your wife's mental health or saving $280 a month? Obviously she gets something out of it.

However, that's $280 a month, or more than $3000 a year.

So, a low-key approach to addressing the issue may be to create an actual budget that includes income vs expenses, as well as planned purchases.

If there is something your wife would like (a new fridge, a television, a washing machine, a trip to Hawaii), cost that out, too.

Then make choices.

As well, there may be something that you would like to do similar to therapy (gym membership) and you could show your wife that you can't do it because therapy costs so much.

However, it is unwise to impose a hard line about therapy. It's a touchy subject. Say what you're thinking (honey, are you still getting good value out of these sessions?), and if she still wants to continue, drop it, and circle back in three months.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Have either of your parents died during your adult life?

If the answer is "no," then walk away from even considering weaning your wife off therapy.

And, seriously, "wean"? She's an adult, not a baby. Perhaps it would help you to start thinking of her as an adult capable of making her own decisions w/r/t her mental health.
posted by griphus at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2010 [25 favorites]


Janet: Good point. I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

10th Reg: She started therapy because of that incident, but she continues to go and discuss other things.

All: We both bring home a paycheck. I bring home more then her - I am not resentful of this. She brought in quite a bit of debt to our relationship, and I can admit that I *am* resentful of that. I am trying to correct it by reducing expenses on both ends of the relationship. Therapy is one of the largest of those expenses.
posted by reuscam at 10:55 AM on October 22, 2010


Please don't do this. Has it occurred to you that she and her therapist might be talking about things other than grief? A lot of people begin therapy because of an acute event or with a certain problem in mind, but find out that they have a lot of things in their lives that they should have been addressing with therapy for a long time. You say you haven't asked much about it, which tells me you aren't really in a position to judge whether she needs it or not.

Here are some things you should talk about with your wife:
-how SHE feels about her progress in therapy, whether it still has as much value as it did at first (its possible she feels ready to quit and just needs a bit of support in that decision). Please LISTEN to her in this conversation.
-whether there are other things she would rather cut back on than her mental health care.
-whether she would be open to trying to negotiate the price or frequency of her care with her therapist, or consider finding someone who is less expensive.

Your last paragraph makes it seem like you would feel uncomfortable with being in therapy regardless of the cost. I would encourage you to think very carefully about whether your suspicions about mental health care or your financial worries are the real driver of this question.
posted by juliapangolin at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Deal with your resentment first, maybe? Because if you ask her to quit therapy to save money, it will become a problem that she will DISCUSS in therapy.
posted by liketitanic at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am a big believer in the idea that one must pick their battles.

I cannot possibly imagine that persuading your wife to stop visiting her therapist is a battle you want to pick.
posted by box at 10:58 AM on October 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


How to wean my wife off therapy?

I don't really think you can. I think it's one of those things a person has to do for themselves. So I think in this instance, it's more a matter of you needing to decide if you want to be with someone with whom you disagree on the rather large issue of "How do you deal with life's ups and downs?"
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:58 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Money's one of the biggest issues that can come between a couple, particularly when one partner makes more money or brings more debt into the marriage than the other.

Hint hint.
posted by Madamina at 10:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you both immigrants to the United States or has she been born/brought up here and not you? Just curious.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are both born and raised in the US.
posted by reuscam at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2010


I think you're conflating two issues here, which a lot of people are going to jump on you for:

A) You seem to have a problem with therapy in and of itself. This is a common feeling for people who don't feel that they themselves need therapy.
B) You think the therapy sessions are too expensive.

Ask yourself: How would you feel if your wife was going to weekly sessions for free? Would you still have reservations and want to "wean" her off?

If your real issue is just the money, then your problem isn't "how to wean my wife off therapy?". It's "how do I make my wife's therapy affordable to our household". Lots of people will have good suggestions about therapist with sliding scales and whatnot.

But if you really just don't feel like your wife needs therapy, then you need to realize that that's your own hangup that you need to get over yourself; presumably you can do this without going to see a therapist.
posted by auto-correct at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [50 favorites]


It would not be reasonable to ask her to stop going to therapy. It would be reasonable to ask her to evaluate whether or not she actually needs to go weekly or if she could safely cut back to every other week or once a month. It must be approached in a "look, money is kinda tight right now, so if you can, it would be helpful if you could cut back on the therapy a bit. If not, that's totally OK, because your mental health is far more important to me than the money" sort of way. It should never be an ultimatum, or even anything other than a question, unless and until the alternative is literally homelessness.

For what little it's worth, when my SO was doing therapy, it was twice a month at first, then once a month for another six months or so, and now she only goes when there's a specific issue in her life she needs advice on how to cope with. She also sees her psychiatrist twice a year to keep the crazy meds coming.
posted by wierdo at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


IMHO, it would be very insensitive and inconsiderate to ask your wife to terminate therapy. I think it might be helpful for you to talk to her about how therapy has helped her in the past year so you can get some perspective on how valuable and useful it is for her. $70 a session may seem like a lot to you, but the care and help that she gets from therapy could be much more valuable than any tangible expense. On the other hand, if she isn't satisfied with treatment or feels it's not helping as much as it used to, she may be amenable to terminating or switching to another, less expensive therapist. Either way, I think you should talk to her about the impact her treatment is having on your finances without asking that she leave therapy and hopefully come to a solution that works for both of you.

Many clinicians will agree to see clients on a sliding scale if they are financially unable to continue treatment. She could broach this topic with her therapist if you both agree that her treatment is breaking the bank.
posted by Mrs.Spiffy at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I were your wife and you asked me to stop going to therapy because of the budget, I would be so upset. I would feel un-cared for, and very alone. It really sucks to have a significant other that is anti-therapy/psychology/psychiatry. (To me, it would seem like you're saying, "Oh, honey, you don't really NEED your insulin... can't you just eat better?")

I would have an even harder time sharing things with you, because it would seem like you either don't care about my psychological well-being, or really don't get me.

I would call this a necessary expenditure, like groceries or rent, and just leave it at that. I would, however sit down with her and figure out what *can* be cut back on.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2010 [20 favorites]


How can I wean my wife off of glasses? It seems like a hundred years ago, lots of people made due with poor eyesight; and before that, everybody born with poor eyesight coped just fine. Can't she just buck up and push through like all those people before?

Just because you believe yourself mentally healthy and not in need of mental health maintenance does not mean that other people aren't. Is she getting happier? Is she enjoying life more because of her thearpy? 'Cause, if she is, it's money well spent.
posted by Netzapper at 11:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [40 favorites]


I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

I would suggest abandoning this view in terms of the decision of whether your wife continues going to therapy or not. If your wife felt like she would be very unhappy without air conditioning, and you felt like air conditioning was a waste of money, it would probably not help for you to point out that it's possible for her to live in an uncomfortably hot house. Some couples agree to pay for air conditioning and some don't, the fact that it's not necessary for survival doesn't automatically mean that someone in a relationship with shared expenses is justified in unilaterally deciding to stop paying for it.

A better view to take is that your wife values therapy, and respect that even if you don't think it is an absolute necessity. Then work with her in a good faith way to figure out how you can balance the value of therapy with the fact that it is one of your biggest monthly expenses and that you are trying to reduce your spending. If she isn't on board with the whole reducing expenses thing in the first place, then that is a whole other can of worms and you're going to have a hard time in general.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


She brought in quite a bit of debt to our relationship, and I can admit that I *am* resentful of that.

If you married her, was this debt a surprise or...? If it's deep resentment instead of just a flaw you accept as part of the whole package, marriage was not a healthy choice.

Fifty years ago I'd have been given up for adoption at birth or forcibly taken from my (single) mother. My partner and I would not be able to live together without a marriage. I'd probably be pregnant by now.

More to the point, if I relied on my eccentric family as my sole reality check, I'd be in a nut hatch.

Therapy for her might be an indulgence and it might be highly helpful. You're going to need this information before you start passing judgment on what's essential. It doesn't make you a bad person to question her treatment, but your current direction of enquiry is not the best way of going about it.
posted by Phalene at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here are some things you should talk about with your wife:
-how SHE feels about her progress in therapy, whether it still has as much value as it did at first (its possible she feels ready to quit and just needs a bit of support in that decision). Please LISTEN to her in this conversation.
-whether there are other things she would rather cut back on than her mental health care.
-whether she would be open to trying to negotiate the price or frequency of her care with her therapist, or consider finding someone who is less expensive.


Yes, this, please. I think you should also examine your feelings- are you possibly jealous that your wife is confiding in a therapist instead of you? If you're feeling left out of the equation, that's something the two of you should discuss as well- it doesn't have to be an either/or, she can confide in you and still retain the services of a therapist.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should point out that weekly is a bit unusual, which is why I think it's reasonable to ask if semi monthly is an option. Most insurance plans I've seen that cover outpatient mental health services only cover 26 or 28 visits a year.
posted by wierdo at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


If she says she needs it, she needs it. Period. End of discussion.

You not taking her word at face value is a whole different topic, that I'd urge you to sit and think about.
posted by JPowers at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


One thing you may be able to do, after obtaining her support in an open, calm, and non-judgmental conversation in which both sides are able to make suggestions and discuss them fairly, is reduce the frequency of her sessions. Ongoing therapy for well-functioning people is often reduced to every other week.
posted by SMPA at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

Yes, and no. People have committed suicide because they find the death of a loved one difficult to overcome. Women have also been committed to asylums after infant deaths, or difficulty processing abortions. It is not a sign of weakness to find death hard to cope with, and I'm so glad I live in a society where people do have access to psychiatric service. I'm sorry, but the way you phrase this makes me feel like I should consider myself a poorer person because I had difficulty myself dealing with a death. Have you expressed this to your wife? Do you think she feels the same way?
posted by mippy at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


In my experience, it isn't really the lack of money that causes these problems in relationships. It's the sense of entitlement one or the other, or both of the partners have in relation to the family's limited resources. You seem to think she doesn't deserve the therapy because of the debt she brought with her when you got married. Does she realize you think this way? How would she react if she knew? Would you want her to feel that way?

Answer those questions and you'll figure out how to handle this problem.
posted by felix betachat at 11:06 AM on October 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


I like KokuRyu's approach of coordinated-budgeting and identifying it as spending that impacts other things.. but you want to be careful of doing that because as KokuRyu also points out, you don't want to leave the impression that other things are more important than her mental health.

The way I would probably (gently) approach it is by being supportive and asking constructive questions aimed at finding out what kind of progress she is (or isn't) making. For example, asking if there are any goals in her therapy that are things you could help achieve, or maybe even simply asking if she's willing to share what therapeutic goals she is working towards.

Although there is the caveat that this IS her therapy .. so the privacy aspect might mean she's not required to share those things with you. However on the flip side.. you are married and if the therapy is an issue that effects the health of your marriage, perhaps the argument can be made that you deserve to know SOMETHING about it.

I can see how this is a sticky situation for you. On some level I do agree with others that 1 year is probably not enough time to deal/adapt to a father dying and the big change of getting married... so my advice would be to "be patient". (and supportive).

For how long do you remain patient/supportive without seeing results?... thats probably a question only you can answer.
posted by jmnugent at 11:06 AM on October 22, 2010


I understand what it's like to be anxious about money. In my house, I'm the guy that keeps track of the books, and I'm the one that gets nervous. But you can't get into the business of approving and disapproving your SO's individual spending decisions. She needs to be kept abreast of your financial situation, and she needs to participate in budget decisions and goal setting. If you're the guy doing the books, then tell her what the books look like. Do it regularly and in detail. Then let her make her own decisions with her solid knowledge of the limited resources available.

If you two agree agree about goals and budgeting, then just keep her informed and otherwise get out of her way. If you don't agree about goals and budgeting, then that's a problem that has nothing to do with her therapy habit anyhow.
posted by jon1270 at 11:06 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is your (and combined) income? Do you have kids?
posted by runit at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2010


I think that the goal of therapy should be to give people the tools to deal with life on their own. Aside from some really serious psychological issues I don't think mort people benefit from going to a therapist long term.

I went to a therapist for awhile after I dropped out of college. It started to become this "bitch session" where I would complain about everything, but I was never really challenged. My therapist was content to just listen to me for the hour and then I went home. I came to the realization that I wasn't getting anything out of it anymore, and if I wanted to just have someone listen to me complain, I could got the bar with my brother.

Of course, your wife is the only one who can determine if she is getting anything out of the sessions. Maybe she needs that place to talk out her feelings for awhile.

I wouldn't directly ask what she talks about in the sessions, but maybe you can go for coffee a day or two after the sessions and just actively listen to her. If she just needs someone to talk about, maybe you can fill that need. If she needs to be with a therapist for other reasons, maybe she will talk about that with you too.
posted by wrnealis at 11:08 AM on October 22, 2010


Society made it through for thousands of years without Western medicine as well. We just lost the diabetics and measles victims along the way. Mental health care is another wonder of modern civilization, not a crutch for the weak.
posted by stevis23 at 11:08 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family. Regardless, I never had a problem with it when my wife started. I guess I just feel like its ongoing with no end in sight. Is that normal? Once therapy is started, it continues for life? How does one discuss that with their spouse?

I'm sorry to sound rude or uncaring. Your responses have given me a lot to think about.
posted by reuscam at 11:12 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


You seem to think she doesn't deserve the therapy because of the debt she brought with her when you got married. Does she realize you think this way? How would she react if she knew? Would you want her to feel that way?

This is how it comes across to me, too.

That said, if you can keep her debt out of the conversation it's worth asking if she feels up to TRYING OUT reducing her sessions to every other week, and if that doesn't work, she should go back to weekly sessions.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:12 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go against the tide here and say this: that sounds like a WHOLE LOT of therapy. Once a week is typical at the beginning of therapy; sessions generally taper down after that. Politely and sensitively asking her if she was able to cut down - and respecting her answer, no matter what - would not be totally out of line.

However: the "people made it through deaths without therapy" comment was breathtakingly insensitive and poorly thought-out. It reflects a certain kind of attitude - that those who have mental health issues and/or seek mental health services just need to TOUGHEN UP and GET OVER IT ALREADY. That attitude is bullshit. People who utilize therapy aren't ANY "weaker" or more inferior than people who use eyeglasses or asthma inhalers, dude.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:13 AM on October 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


> Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy. Thats what friends and family are for. Why are we still paying for this?

You have a point, but some of those folks who "made it through a death" did so by hitting the bottle.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 11:14 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

Society made it through many thousands of years without healthcare, or medicine and we are still there. It doesn't change the fact that medicine has improved our quality of life, and life expectancy.

Just because you don't value mental health as much as physical health doesn't make it less important.

If your wife is really important to you, you would HELP her accommodate her visits by helping cutting your expenses TOGETHER.
posted by runit at 11:14 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think for me it wouldn't matter if it was a weekly voodoo session- if she really feels like she needs it and that it keeps her sane, that'd be good enough for me.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:15 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really get the impression that you shouldn't be married to this woman, and for that, I find it very difficult to advise you on an issue that, to me, merits its own visit to therapy, because you seem to have some very distinct and deeply-rooted levels of resentment, disdain and misogyny towards a woman you should love and want to support in absolutely every way, regardless of the money it takes to do so.

If it weren't for therapy, I would not be alive, and as you have no idea what your wife talks about during her sessions (and you can only "assume" it's trivial, mindless, banal stuff), you may have no idea how much support she's getting from the person with whom she's speaking.

In fact, your lack of support will undoubtedly drive her further into needing therapy. If it were me, knowing that my spouse looks down on me for wanting to help myself get better and feel stronger would most certainly cause me extra anxiety.

Why did you marry this woman? Ask yourself that every day and if your answer doesn't even begin to be in the ballpark of "I love her with all my heart and I want to be able to provide her with everything she needs", maybe it's time to reconsider your relationship.
posted by patronuscharms at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I guess I just feel like its ongoing with no end in sight. Is that normal?

You do not know the content of the sessions and therefore have no ability to determine the length of the process. She may need to go forever, or maybe another few years or she may come home tomorrow saying "boy I am glad I did that." You have little bearing on this, unless you're making problems and not being considerate.

Once therapy is started, it continues for life?

Sometimes. Some people have to go to physical therapy for life, too.

How does one discuss that with their spouse?

What is there to discuss, exactly?
posted by griphus at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2010


Patronus: So your recommendation is divorce?

griphus: Her expectations of whether this is something she wants to continue to do, or if she feels like she will eventually stop going to therapy?
posted by reuscam at 11:21 AM on October 22, 2010


I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

But, my friend, this isn't quite true.

For thousands of years people have relied on religion and priests and priestesses and gods and hermits. People would seek out these specialists to confess, to be forgiven, to understand their world, to understand themselves, to seek guidance, to become better people, to....well, do a lot of what is done in therapy.

As people have evolved, religion has taken a different role for many, and counseling has taken a different role in religion. Many religious leaders now receive pastoral counseling doctorates, and those who do not find a place for religion with regards to private counsel seek out therapists.

And religious leaders have always been financially supported by their church community, so while, yes, anyone could go to a priest or a minister and seek counsel for "free," it was somehow paid for in other means --- maybe a difference was it was more communal. Over time, therapists have filled the role that many religious leaders previously served (again, with regards to private counsel). It is a role that has always existed in one form or another and more than likely will continue to exist. Now that we have better understanding of how the mind works, more specific expertise and training is required in order for good counseling service to be provided. And it's a job. People get paid for jobs.

I understand the cost is of concern to you --- though it's hard to assess if the cost is crippling you and you're unable to pay your rent because of it, or if it's more of a matter of, "Well, we could take that $70/week and go on a nice vacation!" If it's the former, then by all means, speak to your wife about if she can talk with her therapist about a reduced rate, or if she could perhaps see him every two weeks instead of every week.
posted by zizzle at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2010 [22 favorites]


I'm going to go against the tide here and say this: that sounds like a WHOLE LOT of therapy. Once a week is typical at the beginning of therapy; sessions generally taper down after that.

I think that the goal of therapy should be to give people the tools to deal with life on their own. Aside from some really serious psychological issues I don't think mort people benefit from going to a therapist long term.

I'm sorry, are y'all experts? Do you know the client? Have you assessed her needs? Do you often practice various modalities of therapy that have varying courses of treatment including lengths? What kind of therapy is she in? Do you know that?

Oh, no? No! Okay!

I guess I just feel like its ongoing with no end in sight. Is that normal? Once therapy is started, it continues for life?

A year . . . really isn't that long. I guess I'm starting to wonder how much you even know about her life and experiences.
posted by liketitanic at 11:23 AM on October 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.

You may find more value in therapy if you ask your wife why she thinks it's more effective than talking out her problems with friends and family. And not in a "Please defend therapy, because I think it's pointless" way, this kind of conversation will only work if you are honestly coming into it expecting her to help you understand why therapy has value.

I guess I just feel like its ongoing with no end in sight. Is that normal? Once therapy is started, it continues for life? How does one discuss that with their spouse?

As part of a general discussion about what she is getting out of therapy, you could ask if she feels like therapy is something that she will always feel like she needs or not.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:23 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could she just go less often? Or maybe there therapist she could visit who operates on a sliding scale? Or perhaps a women's group that meets to deal with grief (those can often be less expensive than individual therapy sessions, and you can get the perspectives of other people dealing with a similar crisis, while also getting the benefit of counseling from a professional).

In discussing this though, as people have mentioned, please be tread carefully. Just because you don't see why people require therapy doesn't mean it isn't useful or necessary to their well being. You aren't them.

Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy

There were also closer ties to one's community then, too. You lived often under the same roof as your extended family and you could turn to them --or simply benefit from having them physically present-- in times of crisis. If one's local support network is lacking (i.e. family lives far away), therapy can serve as a substitute support. Even if family/friends are close, some people do not feel comfortable confiding in them.
posted by medeine at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Her expectations of whether this is something she wants to continue to do, or if she feels like she will eventually stop going to therapy?

You need to realign your conception of this. It isn't something she wants to do. Therapy is not pleasant. This is something she has to do, otherwise she risks an exacerbation of whatever it is that led her to therapy in the first place. I doubt she, or her therapist, will be able to give you a "when." It's not like taking antibiotics for a month.

If you want answers, I suggest you try out a couple's session. You may not get them, but you will get a better idea of what is going on and what your expectations of the process should resemble.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ongoing therapy is very normal, it's not just for getting past a trauma. I know a few healthy and well adjusted folks who choose to go to therapy just to have someone impartial to talk things out with.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2010


How does one discuss that with their spouse?

How about this (in a situation COMPLETELY dissociated from budget negotiations): "Honey, I have to admit, I have no idea what therapy is all about or what people like about it, but it seems like its really important to you. Would you feel comfortable telling me anything about your experience?"

And if she says yes:
"so, do you think you'll always want/need therapy, or is it something you see as temporary? do you think you'll know when you've reached an endpoint?" among other questions that demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in what she thinks, that you care about her mental well-being, and that you respect her decision to seek therapy.
posted by juliapangolin at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all

Well that's pretty obvious, isn't it? Consider yourself in a relatively easy position: rather more people have the problem that they think their partner needs help, and are all distraught because you can't force anyone to seek a therapist.

The central issue here isn't money but trying to think with the other's head. You can't live your wife's life, so don't. Or in other words: even if therapy would be a crutch of the weak, it would be for the weak to decide whether they take it or not.

I don't ask much about her therapy
You could also consider changing that. Not in the fishing-for-details manner but in the general-interest manner. Maybe the feeling that her partner cares is enough to "wean" her off therapy, who knows.
posted by Namlit at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2010


I wish to clarify that I by no means wish to imply that religion and therapy are the same thing. This is absolutely not true --- but just that private counsel with someone else who is not a friend or relative and who is supposed to remain somewhat objective to the situation has always existed.

As we have learned more science about the brain and the mind, we have developed therapies to assist it, and part of this includes privately and confidentially confiding in someone else --- it used to be that someone else was primarily a religious figure. Now we have trained professionals to do it.
posted by zizzle at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2010


liketitanic: I don't see how knowing my wife has anything to do with knowing how long therapy should last. That sounds more like a function of being trained in therapy, or experienced in receiving it.

zizzle: its not a "our house or else" situation. Its more of a "its 25 years to pay off our non mortgage debt at this rate" situation. This conversation has definitely made it clear to me that I have a problem with therapy in general, as much as I do without solving our budget problems. Despite all the bad advice here, I do appreciate that side of it.
posted by reuscam at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2010


50 years ago a husbands would take on a wife's debt without question because he was the head of the household and would be in charge of the family's money. Don't go down the "back then" route. You will loose every time.

Your wife is in therapy because she feels she needs it. Suggesting she should muscle through her problems because other folks have done it is just the type of insensitive dismissal from a partner that would send me into therapy. Setting your own timeline for when she should be over her grief is just the kind of power trip from a partner that would send me first to a therapist and second to a lawyer.

So, ask yourself this: have you been the kind of supporting, loving husband your wife needs in order to talk to You about everything under the sun? Have you been the kind of confidant, the kind of friend a spouse needs in order to feel safe talking about deeply personal struggles? Do you create a environment where vulnerability is met with tenderness and not a arrow in the center of her soul?

It says a lot about your marriage that you don't talk all that much about her therapy. It says even more about you that you're willing to ask her to give it up before you know more about why she goes, how she feels about it, what benefits she thinks she gets from going.

Ask your wife what she gets out of therapy. Ask her if she is getting something from her therapist that she's not getting from you. Be willing to make some pretty big changes of she says "yes, as a matter of fact." If you're not willing to probe deeper and perhaps make some changes then you have absolutely no right to ask her to discontinue therapy.
posted by space_cookie at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm angry at your pompous (IMO) assumptions about therapy as someone who has gone once a week for a few years now. If you were my spouse, I would be even more angry. That's fine, I have no expectation of not being angered by the internet and you have no responsibility to not anger me. I only bring it up so that you're careful if/when you bring this up with your wife.

I think it would be fair and reasonable to ask your wife if she felt comfortable moving to a biweekly schedule while making it absolutely clear that you are not pressuring her and that she should remain in weekly therapy for as long as she felt it beneficial. Maybe she'll be fine with it. Maybe not.

As for what therapy is good for, you seem to be implying that just getting by without offing yourself is good enough. Therapy can vastly improve your quality of life by changing how you think about things and how you behave in relationships and in life. It's not only about treating short-term grief or mental health problems. Talking to friends and family is good for getting things off your chest and receiving some sympathy, but it's not a substitute for quality therapy.

As for you, I'd take a long, hard look at why you feel so confident in your opinions about something you clearly don't know anything about and why you have so little confidence in your wife's opinions about that same thing that she does know a lot about.
posted by callmejay at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


[few comments removed. folks, stick to on-topic answers and less "you are a jerk" answers. OP, you don't have to threadsit quite so much.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, my recommendation is for you to evaluate your relationship with your wife and see what it is based on. Why people marry and why people stay married are sometimes very disparate things. What, to you, is your marriage about? Why do you love your wife? What would you be willing to compromise on in order to make asking her to give up therapy an equitable decision as two people in a partnernship? Would you be willing to give up your most expensive "need"? Would you be willing to go without because she "has to" as well? Or are you looking to punish her for bringing debt into your marriage?
posted by patronuscharms at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2010


If I had seen a therapist when my dad died instead of trying to cope with it just by talking with friends and family, my child would probably have had a significantly more involved mother for the first year of their life.

It's really not relevant whether you think there is value in therapy. What's relevant is that your wife finds value in it.

From your perspective, I think a better first step than asking her to reduce therapy sessions might be to talk with her about why she finds value in therapy. Caveat though: You have to sincerely *want* to know the answer. Right now, it's hard to gather anything about how you feel about your wife, other than resentful or her debt and therapy. Perhaps the issue is more that you two aren't talking enough about things?
posted by bardophile at 11:32 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do you have any idea whether your wife is happy? That seems like the best place to start actually thinking about this. If she still feels she needs to go every week, it could mean that she's not happy. Given your disparate views on how to deal with emotional stress, I wouldn't be surprised if she really feels a need to talk to someone else.

Or it could be that she's almost worked some stuff out and is feeling better. However, you don't mention anything about that, so I'm just guessing...
posted by amtho at 11:34 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


zizzle: I said non mortgage. School loans, private loans, etc. Mortgage is a completely different debt I am not counting.

space_cookie: I did not ask her about therapy not because I am not curious, and not because I do not want to help, but instead because I want to respect her privacy. I understand that she may want to talk about us as much as she may want to talk about her dad. I figured if she wanted to discuss it with me, she would, and she has had every opportunity. She has in fact discussed some parts of some sessions with me, and I have been an attentive listener every time.
posted by reuscam at 11:34 AM on October 22, 2010


I think it would be reasonable to ask your wife, "Do you feel you're benefitting from these weekly therapy sessions?" Leave it open-ended, and be open-minded, but gently ask her to think about whether she might be going out of habit or if she really feels that going once a week is valuable. Ask if she's discussed long-term goals with her therapist--what she is ultimately working toward in therapy. But be prepared to respect her answer even if she says, "Yes, I find it really valuable."

Something else to consider would be to parcel out $X to each of you (or X% of your individual take-home pay) as "my money" rather than "our money": neither of you would then need to keep tabs on what the other spends that amount on. She could spend $70/week on therapy or $70/week on ice cream. Her call--you don't need to know or care.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:34 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The pattern I am seeing in your answers is that you are pretty defensive, you really like to have the upper hand in an argument and you would rather be 'right' then be the one who is in the position to learn from a situation.
If I were with someone like that - and I have been - I'd feel very unheard. I'd eventually pull away from him emotionally because it's just too exhausting to be in a partnership with someone who would always rather win an argument - to the detriment of the relationship - than to be wrong yet learn something about the relationship that could make it stronger.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:35 AM on October 22, 2010 [33 favorites]


My view on therapy is that everyone has lost someone, and many, many people make it through the death without paying for therapy. Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy. Thats what friends and family are for. Why are we still paying for this?

Not so. Historically people would go their ministers and priests for counselling and comfort on bereavement. They tended to be more active in church contexts where it was acceptable to look for post-bereavement comfort. Therapy has moved into a gap which used to be occupied by pastoral work by clergy and the role of prayer and worship in addressing death. All that's happened is that we've changed our bereavement professionals. You really shouldn't underestimate the impact of a death or the way it can screw people up. This has been going on since time immemorial. I know people who are still scarred by deaths which happened many years ago. 70 dollars per week may turn out to be very cheap compared to long term cost of having your wife permanently affected.
posted by Flitcraft at 11:36 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not everyone agrees with the general consensus here OP. It sounds to me like you should try to foster more discussions with your wife, and eventually become her therapist yourself. You will feel closer to her and will save money.

No one needs to see a therapist for their entire life. It's a crutch at that point.
posted by lakerk at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


My point, which I meant to put in the next paragraph but then i accidentally hit 'post', is that those are things she is likely discussing in therapy. Without the tools she is getting from her therapist she may have a harder time dealing with marriage in general.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2010


If she were instead paying the $70/wk for anti-depressants, would you still want to "wean her off" to save money?

If the answer is "Yes," please consider seeing a therapist yourself to get some sorely needed perspective on mental health issues.
posted by sonika at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy. Thats what friends and family are for.

You know that really draining friend or family member you have, that whenever you speak to is always complaining about their problems and expecting you to come up with suggestions of how to fix them? Even when you care deeply about this person, and you feel that the things they are going through are truly difficult, it gets really exhausting to be that supportive friend, doesn't it?

It seems that part of your annoyance at your wife spending money on therapy is because you don't understand why she needs to talk to someone else about her grief and other issues when she could be talking to you. But maybe, she doesn't want to become like the complaining friend, or she doesn't feel comfortable talking about it with someone who has the attitude of "everyone 50 years ago has gone through this, no big deal."

You want to tell your wife that the treatment that she feels she needs for her health and well-being is not as important as the money you could be saving. Even if $70/week for therapy is too expensive after you both closely examine your budget--the solution isn't stop therapy, it's find cheaper therapy.
posted by inertia at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family. Regardless, I never had a problem with it when my wife started.

It's not a bad thing to have different values in a marriage. What makes a marriage work is the ability to have those values, be aware of yours and your partner's, and respect the fact that they have as much of a right to theirs - and theirs is just as valid - as your own.

Is eliminating debt as much of a priority for her as it is for you? It sort of sounds like it is. I expect she's aware of how much it costs but still feels it's necessary.

It really might be an idea to take a deep breath and extend that amount of credit to your wife: If she believes it's worth it, then take her word for it.

Basically the big issue here is that she sees it as a necessary expense and you don't, so to you, she's frittering away money which could be saved elsewhere. But from her side, she's obviously getting something out of it.

My advice? Communicate. Just sit down, rub her back or whatever, talk over some cookies and wine, if you're the cookies and wine sort. Ask her how therapy's going. You could try to wean her off therapy or you could try to see it the way she does, or at least let it go enough that it's okay she doesn't see it the way you do. Discuss without expectation. If you try to mollify yourself by thinking that this is something she'll eventually stop going to, it's only going to lead to trouble.

I sort of get the impression - and correct me if I'm wrong here, because sometimes I am - that you yourself are not a huge talker. At the very least, you talk things out when they're huge, like bereavement, but for the most part you suck it up. A case in point: Resentment over debt. Does your wife know you resent her?

Look. You got married. You like each other enough to have decided to deal with one another's little annoyances for the rest of your lives. That's a wonderful and noble thing, and in practice it takes a lot of work. But I also believe you genuinely love your wife and she loves you and you want this all to work out for the best. So listen: Be a team.

Sit down with her and tell her that actually marrying into her debt just kind of hit some of your buttons in a way you don't always process easily, and sometimes you're maybe short with her or annoyed and you're sorry. You're sorry 'cause you love her, and her smile is the best smile, and now that you're a team the most important thing is that you're both rowing in the same direction, and so you just want to do whatever you can to make sure you are.

If you can shelve tears - not quite cry, but just kind of have wet eyes like you're about to - that would be a good time for it, and then smile and tell her you love her. And actually really smile, like a real serious warm one.

At that exact moment, take a good look at your wife, 'cause she'll be all emotional in probably a pretty good way. If at that moment you're still seeing the woman you saw the day you got married, then listen to whatever she says and don't judge and don't let yourself get angry or too upset, no matter what. It'll work out great as long as you do that.

If, at that exact moment, she still looks mostly like a financial burden to you, get a divorce.

But I bet she won't.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:41 AM on October 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Lots of good recommendations here. Regardless, I wanted to toss a couple of pennies here.

When considering the expense (and it is expensive) also consider how expensive it would be to have to pay for more intense forms of therapy or even divorce lawyers. Sometimes $70 a week is the cheapest alternative.

I really like the idea of switching to bi-weekly sessions. That may be sufficient. Also, There are often other low(er) cost options. My wife found some excellent groups and resources in Houston recently which are very cost effective, perhaps you can discuss these options with your wife. (Seriously, if you can find decent social services in Texas you should be able to find them almost anywhere.)

My wife lost her father 10 years ago and it's still a major issue. We both wish it would go away but it's not over yet.

Finally, I'm probably repeating someone else here but you two are in it together. Her problems are now yours and being closed minded about what she needs to work through issues isn't good in the long term and, as I mentioned previously, will likely be even more expensive.
posted by redyaky at 11:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Historically people would go their ministers and priests for counselling and comfort on bereavement.

Also, historically, there were rituals and etiquette set up for people in mourning (like the English stuff about how much black you wore indicating what stage of mourning you were likely to be in). They actually had a very compassionate and gentle system for these things, and the bereaved, if they could afford it in anyway, weren't expected to go back to work 2 days later and suck it up. I think this modern disregard for death is unnatural and harmful to the psyche and society.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


No one needs to see a therapist for their entire life. It's a crutch at that point.

Unless the person providing this opinion is a trained therapist, psychologist or doctor, I would suggest you discount it, OP.
posted by griphus at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Listen, I hear you. It's a lot of money. You don't have much. I've been there. But, your wife needs this right now. Would you deny her heart surgery? This isn't an indulgence or a luxury. I know you're tempted to look at it this way. Stop. People didn't have eyeglasses or contact lenses years ago either, and they managed, right? - but they didn't see as clearly then. Would you deny eyecare based on the same logic?

Change your attitude. You're wrong. Shift the question you face to "how can I pay for this needed service"? And along those lines, write your wife's therapist explaining your financial situation. Ask them if anything can be done. I did this, and it showed my wife that I cared, and we got a lower rate. Win-win.

Look, you're new in your marriage. This is the time you're setting the template for what could be a very good thing, or miserable. Choose the first by showing care.
posted by visual mechanic at 11:44 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.

Oh good lord, I would never, ever talk to my friends or family about the sort of stuff I've discussed with a therapist. They're specifically people who aren't associated or attached to your life in any way other than a professional capacity. They're people who are simultaneously non-judgmental (most of them), and more importantly, if they do judge you, it doesn't matter one iota because they aren't really part of your social life.

In fact, I wish I could afford a therapist now... 'cause I'm in the middle of a divorce, and none of my friends really have the desire to listen to me whine about the same thing yet again. As much as they care about me, several of them have explicitly said (after three months!), "Dude, you're not the first person to get divorced. Just get over it already." So, those are the friends that I've demoted to "acquaintance".

That is precisely the attitude you're expressing here.

Regardless, I never had a problem with it when my wife started. I guess I just feel like its ongoing with no end in sight. Is that normal? Once therapy is started, it continues for life? How does one discuss that with their spouse?

Sometimes it continues for life. Just like some people are on drugs for their entire lives, or have to give up salt or alcohol or bacon forever.
posted by Netzapper at 11:45 AM on October 22, 2010 [21 favorites]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.

Do you also talk out car problems with your friends and family? Pneumonia? Some problems are beyond the capacity of loving amateurs to help with.

For some perspective, I went to weekly therapy for seven years, at considerably more than $70/wk. After seven years off, I've gone back every month for the past four months, to deal with some very specific issues; I don't expect to be in it long-term this time. I consider the money and time I've spent on this to be some of the best I've ever spent on anything in my life. Had my partner implied that it was a waste of our money, I doubt I'd have the relationship with him now that I have.

I just meant that society made it through death for thousands of years without paid therapists.

I have a number of very long-lived relatives whom I see often. At least in my family, by far the most common way of making it through trauma without paid therapists was by developing a crippling dependence on alcohol. Even apart from the ongoing health issues and the costs to friends and family, lemme tell you, you can spend a lot more than $70/wk on bourbon.

Despite all the bad advice here, I do appreciate that side of it.

I'm curious as to what advice here you would consider to be "bad," and why.
posted by KathrynT at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [21 favorites]


I started seeing a therapist about a year ago, ostensibly just to talk about my husband's then-out-of-control drinking. I'm still seeing her now, even though he has since given up booze altogether; we have been doing lots of work on other things that came up during the therapy (messed-up childhood, self-esteem and boundary issues, etc.).

My husband was like you for a while -- he went through a stage of asking why I needed to go to the therapist when he had stopped drinking. I pointed out that I was still dealing with a lot about how I had felt when he was still drinking, and that it was really helpful for me to have a safe place to talk about all those things.

I also pointed out that I considered this a necessary expense for me, and, by extension, us. It isn't as though I'm buying trinkets or expensive dinners that might hurt our budget for no real reason. He hasn't brought it up since.

I think you could be a bit more sensitive to your wife's feelings. It might be easier for you to just talk to friends and family when you have a problem, but she's obviously getting some benefit from her therapist.
posted by vickyverky at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


by far the most common way of making it through trauma without paid therapists was by developing a crippling dependence on alcohol.

And/or religiosity, (in my family).
posted by small_ruminant at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the other thing I was going to say: Take an active interest in how her therapy's going. It's obviously doing something good for her and I bet she'd be excited to talk about it if she felt like you wanted to hear it.

Once you have a clear picture not only of how it's going but what it's doing for her, you'll be in a better position to know if it would be terrible to ask if maybe scaling it back to every other week would be okay, if only for a little while.

But even if you're paying off debt for the next 25 years, that's 25 years with the woman you want to spend forever with. The ups and downs during that time are incidental.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2010


Also, just to add. Your attitude to this is most likely a huge stressor for your wife, and ironically - probably one of the reasons her therapy will need to be extended. And some people will always need therapy. This is the person you married, accept her.
posted by visual mechanic at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


liketitanic: nobody in this thread SAID they know how often the OP's wife should be in therapy. I believe the overall opinion was that her frequency of therapy was something she should EVALUATE. "Step back and take a look and think about your life" is not something one needs a Psy.D to suggest.

Peoples' therapy needs can change over time. And the woman is the only person who can really determine what her current needs are... not me, not you, not her husband and not her therapist (while the therapist may HELP, they may also suggest a more frequent schedule than the OP's wife really and truly NEEDS... despite being highly trained, they ARE mere mortals, too).

And that being said: if there is a scale of therapeutic frequency - with "in a mental hospital and therefore EVERY DAY" on one end and "never, ever in one's life" on the other... four times a month IS towards the high end. Maybe the OP's wife ABSOLUTELY NEEDS IT! That's certainly possible! But it's still, as I said, a lot of therapy.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


OP, I just wanted to say that not everyone in the world thinks you're automatically an asshole.

Talk therapy helps lots of people, but it's also a business and, as such, it's in the habit of selling itself to people.

It's not at all unreasonable to ask your wife to consider a cost/benefit analysis of the therapy she's receiving. If seeing the therapist once a month rather than once a week would help her work through her issues at half the pace for a quarter the cost, then that's a very reasonable course to think about pursuing.

Therapy is not on the same level of basic need as food and shelter, no matter how many times other posters may try to draw that equivalency. You may have come across as a little callous is some of your word choices, but you're not a monster.
posted by 256 at 11:54 AM on October 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


2 (actually useful!) suggestions:

1) Get her to cut down to twice (or 3 times) per month.
2) Most therapists will negotiate, especially if their patient is very needy. See if they'll take $50 per visit. If not, perhaps find one who will.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:55 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think talk therapy is pretty much a waste of time and money, which isn't a popular opinion, I know. Does your wife have other social outlets, close friends, or interests other than her job? Seeing a therapist once a week might have become a useful habit, a place to unwind, unload, and unburden herself with no real goal or end in view. Therapists who keep people coming back, week after week, with no other result than more revenue have been known to exist.
But if you want to stay married, you might think about having a loving, compassionate discussion about her goals for herself and how seeing the therapist fits into that picture.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:56 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here are some ways to ask about therapy and still respect her privacy.

You seem to really like going to your therapist, what do you like about her/him?

Honey, since you go to your therapist every week, I'm guessing you get a lot out it, do you feel like telling me something about that?

Honey, it's occurred to me lately that you might feel more comfortable talking to your therapist about certain things than you do with me. It bugs me that I might be missing out on something really important to you. Can we talk about that?

Note that none of these queries require detailed explanations about what she talks about in therapy. They deal with her overall experience, the last one deals with her experience of you. If you listen carefully you'll get a whole lot of information about what your wife needs. Don't get caught up in plot - I talk about my dad or I talk about my childhood. Focus on the quality of the relationship with her therapist, what changes she sees in her internal landscape when she leaves the office.

Don't put the entire onus on her to come to you. If she's hurting in some way she might need a gentle hand to help her open up.

Keep your focus on what needs aren't being met - yours and hers. This isn't really about money. There's something deeper going on between you two. I have a very strong suspicion that you'll keep missing one another until you figure out what that is.

Perhaps it's time you both saw someone together.
posted by space_cookie at 12:02 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If your wife is going to a therapist, she probably needs to go. If you are truly broke, tell her about your money concerns. If it just pisses you off that she spends money on therapy, keep quite and examine what is going on in your own mind.
posted by fifilaru at 12:06 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.

several years ago, a friend of mine was going through depression and rather than see a therapist (because she didn't believe in them), she would call me up every night and talk for hours. this went on for months. nearly every night for several hours for months. i felt that i couldn't not talk to her because she was so obviously in need of support. but i also felt ill-equipped to provide her with the type of help she obviously needed. i repeatedly implored her to seek therapy. it was exhausting.

maybe your issues can be easily resolved in a conversation or two with friends and families. but of course, you are not your wife.
posted by violetk at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


She needs to be kept abreast of your financial situation, and she needs to participate in budget decisions and goal setting. If you're the guy doing the books, then tell her what the books look like. Do it regularly and in detail. Then let her make her own decisions with her solid knowledge of the limited resources available.

^
this.

i'm not married and was never married, and so i can't really say if it's your place to help your wife suss out whether this therapy thing is the right way for her to approach her problems/grief/inner process. i tend to think not. however, as jon1270 says above, you're the dude who does the books, and to show her how therapy fits into the large picture of your finances is totally your place. this is fair. trying to "help" her figure out whether she really needs therapy, or asking her to "help" you understand it for yourself in the face of your skepticism/objection/whatever is not that fair in my opinion.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 12:11 PM on October 22, 2010


Just wanted to throw in my worthless 2 cents.
For disclosure, I've done therapy and studied it extensively in school.
The right therapist can make a world of difference for some people.
Therapy REALLY helped me deal with issues I hadn't addressed and has made my life much better (sidenote; I fucking disliked this therapist as he reminded me of your stereotypical professor type, yet by far, hands down, most effective one I've ever worked with, bonus points for the short time frame where others dragged into years)
Yet, I want to add, therapy can be a trap. It can go on to a point of useless and it can be difficult to have an end sight. Perhaps some people don't want an end sight, but the popular school of thought is people do want an end. Also, after prolonged time frames with a particular therapist on a regular schedule can become routine and cause difficulties on how to sever that relationship.
You need to talk to your wife, in a calm, inquisitive way that asks about her feelings on this matter and what she wishes to gain from therapy. I understand the money issue is a top concern, but DON'T bring it up when you have this conversation.
It isn't uncommon for people to be in therapy for years at a time, although at that point I'd begin to question how competent a therapist is and if they are enjoying the easy cash flow.
posted by handbanana at 12:11 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't read all of the other replies, but I have read all of your posts in this thread, reuscam, so please forgive me if I'm repeating anyone.

I understand that to you, therapy is useless since humanity survived for centuries without it. But if you really think about it, what were the ways people dealt with their problems back then? Many people were not able to just smile and bear it. A lot of people dealt with it by becoming raging, fall-down alcoholics. Or just quietly disappearing into a bottle every night. A lot of people took it out by beating their wives or their kids, or their animals. A lot of people shot themselves, hung themselves, or stuck their heads in the oven. A lot of people were committed to mental asylums, or, before mental asylums, locked up in jail. A lot of people just withdrew from life, stopped leaving the house, stopped eating, wasted away and died. Some people became that strange old lady or man who hides in their home behind their creepy windows, or just wanders around town in a daze, avoided by everyone else, or spends their days visiting the cemetery. And a lot of people dealt with it by just becoming closed-off, hard, and cold.

People may not have had access to therapy in the past, or may have been averse to talking about these kinds of things. But that doesn't mean they dealt with it better, at all. Isn't it better that your wife go to therapy than say, dealing with her problems with vodka? Or by losing her appetite, not eating and wasting away?

I totally understand feeling resentment and anger if you feel that your wife is frittering away the communal money over frivolous and selfish things. Totally, totally get that.

But if that is a problem here in general, I don't think you should make this, her therapy, the centerpiece of the problem. Or the chief example of the problem. Even if it is one of the biggest expenses you have.

There are so many other ways you all could solve that problem. It sounds like you are really taking the lead on trying to solve the money issues in your marriage. I could be off base, but it sounds like you are frustrated with her and feel like if you don't take the lead on solving these issues and make some decisions, she won't, or won't be able to. I'm not going to judge that and tell you that if you think that you don't love her, because it could be true that she's like that.

But THAT is your problem, IMO, not the therapy in particular. I think if you got her to take some ownership over the situation, make a budget, really work with you to figure out how the two of you are going to live within your means and pay down your debt on a more reasonable schedule, you would feel a LOT less irritated by her therapy bills.

I just think if you approach it from that angle - "I really need you to work with me here, and help me make a fair budget that takes both of our wants and needs into account, yet also calls for fair sacrifices for both of us, that will enable us to fix our financial situation" rather than "your therapy is expensive and wasteful and I want to wean you off of it" it will work SO much better and you'll have so much more cooperation.

And even though I said I'm not going to judge you for being frustrated with her and feeling like she is being wasteful and irresponsible, if you let that seep out, if you let her become aware that that's how you feel about her actions, I think you're going to meet with so much more resistance and defensiveness from her. If you can try to move away from that mindset regardless of whether it is justified, I think that will help so much for the two of you to be able to work together. Otherwise things turn into a defensive, you vs. me mentality.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:15 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I’m a therapist.

I haven’t read this whole thread, or even much of it. Obviously I take some issue with your general attitude toward therapy, which is very helpful for many people. Further, while your wife may have started going to therapy in order to help with grief over her father, she may be engaged in something else entirely now. Therapy may be the only thing helping her to stay in your marriage, for instance. You don’t know.

However, I think it’s fine to have a candid discussion with your wife about how you feel and how she feels about it. I wouldn’t try to persuade her, and I certainly wouldn’t force her, but therapy is not sacrosanct, and for all you know she’s looking for a reason to stop. What has been helpful may be less so now, what was necessary may be habit. Talking about these issues is completely reasonable. Therapy is not a religious experience (quasi- or otherwise), and shouldn’t be treated as off-limits. In my view more people should stop therapy when it becomes simply routine.

Given your demonstrated biases, though, I’d think you want to have a very careful think about how to approach this without being (even unintentionally) an asshole.
posted by OmieWise at 12:17 PM on October 22, 2010 [34 favorites]


I don't see how knowing my wife has anything to do with knowing how long therapy should last.

How long is a piece of string?

After my mom died, when I was 29, I was in weekly therapy for about 18 months. Then it tapered down to twice a month, and then monthly. In my case, my mom was my last surviving parent, and I'm an only child, and losing her pretty much yanked the universe out from under my feet.

For 50 minutes a week, a therapist's office is a place where your wife can talk exclusively about herself, her feelings, her reactions, her needs, her perceptions of what happens in her life. She can talk about things that friends or family might judge her for (or that she's afraid will judge her for, and so she won't talk about them); she can get an outsider's point of view on patterns in her life - helpful patterns, and destructive patterns. A therapist (a good one) is someone who can ask hard questions without making one feel defensive.

Can you do all of this? The very premise of your question suggests you can't.
posted by rtha at 12:18 PM on October 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.

And yet you're stuck talking about them to strangers on the internet. Non-trivial problems usually require more than a superficial solution. They aren't always about what they appear to be on the surface. For example, your objections to therapy seemed merely financial at first and it turns out there was more to it. I would be shocked if your wife was unaware of your attitudes toward her therapy, though she probably can't discuss this with you. (That's one of the things a therapist is for.)

That said, sometimes the therapist-client pair get stuck and stop dealing with what is important. She discusses everything under the sun and the therapist doesn't point out how she is using the hour and their relationship in a way that goes unexamined--e.g. she wants someone to take what she says seriously and feels that you don't (e.g. that you humor her with her silly ideas about needing therapy) or that she talks to soothe herself and the content is unimportant. (I'm not saying this is the case--just that this sometimes happens.) If you were less anti-therapy, you could ask her if the therapy is working for her or if she'd rather see someone else but with your attitude, she'd hear it as non-helpful. It's often the case that a certain amount of time in therapy is wasted because one or both parties are trying to avoid something and need to get to a place where it can be recognized and spoken of, so just because it can seem pointless at the moment doesn't mean it's not a necessary part of the problem.

So, to take your question literally, my advice is to understand and value the purpose of therapy so that you can ask her from a position of caring if it's working for her in its current instantiation with the assumption that, if it's not, she may need to go to someone else and even pay more. Or you can just trust that she knows what she's doing. Or you can go into therapy yourself because you married someone whose values you can't empathize with and can't get close enough to to work this out.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [18 favorites]


One of the best things about therapy is speaking to someone who has very low stakes in whatever you're discussing; friends and family can be very biased (out of love, of course) and not very helpful when you're trying to come to grips ad move on from something rather than just seeking support.

When I'm having trouble with my family, I don't want to talk it out with my family even more/seek the advice I'm getting from therapy from them -- we're all exhausted, and we all have very little perspective because we are hurting so much.

I also don't want to burden my friends -- partly because I don't want my friends to think of whatever trouble I'm having whenever they see me but also because I don't want to burden them.

Your wife has found a healthy, productive outlet for a lot of stress, and you should value it for the comfort it brings to her. A lot of times on ask.me we'll say DTMFA to people whose partners who refuse to seek therapy -- your wife is making an effort to get to a happy, healthy place, and that's awesome.

Please, if it's a money issue, there are TONS of sliding scale/free places for therapy. Let your wife have this and be happy she's getting support; it's a health issue.
posted by superlibby at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just want to point out that, based on this thread, many people have extremely strong feelings about the value of therapy, ranging from thinking it's life-saving to a complete waste of time and money. I certainly have strong pro-therapy feelings and opinions based on my life experience and belief system. I even found myself getting noticeably upset and angry while reading parts of this thread, which is not something that usually happens to me on metafilter.

So, for those reasons, I want to suggest that you approach this subject with your wife in a genuinely sensitive way. If you are in a marriage of equals, don't try to skirt around the issue. Admit that you have a bias against therapy, be honest about that (even if you haven't already told her, she knows) and, if you're willing to listen (which you say you are), ask her if she can help you to understand why therapy is valuable to her.

I think that both of your opinions about therapy--in general, and for your wife, specifically--need to be laid out and discussed before you can approach the financial aspect. Otherwise, it's a recipe for resentment.
posted by tacoma1 at 12:25 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]



liketitanic: nobody in this thread SAID they know how often the OP's wife should be in therapy. I believe the overall opinion was that her frequency of therapy was something she should EVALUATE. "Step back and take a look and think about your life" is not something one needs a Psy.D to suggest.


No, the tone was also pretty anecdote = anecdata. And that's a problem.

And OP, you seem to have no idea what she might want therapy for and what her difficulties might be that would keep her in therapy "so long." If she has a mental illness. If she was abused. If she has some other trauma she's dealing with. If her relationship with her parents was unhealthy. Any one of a thousand things someone could reasonably work out in therapy, and that's more serious than you seem willing to believe it is. That's why how much you know her matters.
posted by liketitanic at 12:26 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You suggest that she should work things out through discussions with friends and family... Does she have a good network of friends and family to lean on for support, in whom she can confide, and who are willing and able to give useful advice and shoulders to lean on? Are there any obstacles to her being able to do so (like family and friends living far away or not having time to see them)?

Also, for $5 you can hook her up with an account on a community website I know where a bunch of (mostly) good people provide a lot of (mostly) good advice and answers to many of life's problems and questions.
posted by ellenaim at 12:27 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


> my impression is that she discusses everything under the sun.

I read this and suspect that you're feeling uncomfortable that maybe she talks about *you* in therapy, and you don't like the idea of her sharing details about you and your marriage with anyone else. Is this possible?

If you do have mixed feelings about her disclosing private stuff about you or your relationship, keep in mind that if she were to cut off therapy she probably wouldn't just stop talking about that stuff altogether; it's more likely that she'd start talking about it to people you actually know personally who aren't being paid to be impartial and confidential about the information. Just something to consider.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


It doesn't sound like you have much empathy for your wife. Her father has been dead for less than a year. It sounds to me like she's doing the responsbile thing and getting help for her grief, so it won't haunt her for years to come. Lots of people take longer than a year to be able to start living a normal life after the death of a loved one. Grief can infilitrate every area of a person's life. Lots of people go through the day with a sense of sadness.

It seems like you have put her on a schedule for when she should be done grieving. Try to accept that she needs this time to adjust and that it might take longer than a year.

I feel sad for your wife. You went into a marriage resenting her debt and continue to resent it. Now, when she needs medical care, all you can think about is the money. That doesn't sound very kind to me.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


liketitanic, I am pretty sure I know all of the major issues in her life. My point is that even if I know every event that ever happened to her, ever interaction she recalled, every relationship she held sacred, I would still not know how long a reasonable time is in therapy. Like I said, this would require me having some personal experience myself with therapy, or being trained as an actual therapist. So while I appreciate you and other claiming that I just don't know my wife, that is not the case. I don't ask my wife about therapy in respect for her privacy.
posted by reuscam at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are options in between "asking your wife about therapy" and "not asking your wife about therapy." Namely, asking about therapy in an open-ended way so she feels safe discussing what she wants to, and keeps to herself the things she does not wish to share.
posted by teragram at 12:34 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry but therapy seems to be a favourite band aid for a lot of people on Ask Meta and, as such, you aren't going to get a balanced response. Those of us that think that therapy is not the magic bullet to cure all ills will generally get drowned out.

Personally I think you're being taken for a ride or that her therapist is a load of rubbish. The vast majority of people in this world get over far more than a death of their father in (oh my god!) their first year of marriage and cope just fine with little to no therapy at all.

If that wasn't true, the world would be awash with therapists, we'd all be in therapy and the richest people on the planet would be therapists.

But it isn't, we aren't and they aren't.
posted by mr_silver at 12:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Like I said, this would require me having some personal experience myself with therapy, or being trained as an actual therapist

When any health issue is involved, it's invaluable to prepare by reading up on the literature. There's lots of information out there about mental health professionals and the different types of therapy programmes that they can perform. You don't have to be a patient or a doctor to understand the basic, relevant issues.
posted by polymodus at 12:38 PM on October 22, 2010


She brought in quite a bit of debt to our relationship, and I can admit that I *am* resentful of that. I am trying to correct it by reducing expenses on both ends of the relationship. Therapy is one of the largest of those expenses.

I hear three separate issues here, each of which is a Big Deal. They should be considered separately.

#1 is the money. Your wife brought debt into the relationship. You feel resentment over that. That resentment makes you want to cut costs by eliminating an expense that is important to your wife's health.

I feel that you are listening to the responses you are receiving here—in good faith even if a bit prickly—and therefore I feel compelled to speak as straightly to you as I would to a friend in real life:

You had an opportunity before you married your wife to discuss her debt, learn the full extent of it, and create a mutually-agreeable plan to resolve it. At the point where you got married, her individual debt became your joint debt. You were complicit in that change of state. You could easily have said, "I'd rather not get married till we both have a clean slate. Let's continue to be engaged, and work toward that goal, and you fix you and I'll fix me, then we'll start fresh." You elected not to, and now you don't really have a moral high ground regarding "her" debt and "her" money problems.

It might not feel this way, but you participated in letting things to get to where they are now, and you don't get to keep pointing fingers over that forever.

You taking total ownership of trying to "correct" her debt now is a mistake. This should be a jointly agreed plan that involves budgets, goals, and saving. You need to sit down together, talk about your joint income and joint expenses, discuss a reasonable plan for eliminating your joint debt (because that's what it is right now), and then at the end discuss what your individual monthly discretionary funds will each be.

It is fair for you to ask your spouse to pay for a solo activity out of her discretionary spending money.*

#2 is your cavalier regard for your wife's self-awareness and mental health. She has undergone two major life events in the last 12-18 months, and she feels that she needs professional help to overcome that. It doesn't have to be the path you would choose to handle your grief, but it is in fact her path.

That you have turned to the internet to seek ways to "break" her of this "habit"—one that she feels she truly needs—says to me that you don't trust your wife's ability to examine herself and make reasonable decisions about managing her mental health. It feels a little bit paternalistic, in fact... as though you feel like the little lady needs to just pull up her big-girl panties, and stop being so histrionic about needing to go once a week and lie on the couch and weep to her shrink. No, of course you said nothing like that aloud... but some of your remarks have given that vibe off.

You don't have to respect the therapy to respect that it is important to your wife.

Which is where the asterisk comes in.... just because it is fair for you to ask your wife to pay for a solo activity out of her own money... doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

What is fair is for you to say, as a part of the necessary budgeting conversation that will give you a big picture of your finances and plans, is, "Honey, we are spending ~$300 on this activity over here, and I know it's important to you, but we have to decide whether we can truly afford that expense in the light of these other priorities we've set like [paying off debt, buying a house, whatever]. Can we consider some solutions to reduce that ~$300 per month?" (I think Ashley801 up-thread said it better, in fact)

You might be surprised; she might say, "I can drop down to every other week" or "Let me talk to the doctor about a reduced fee" or "Let's see what the insurance options are." But you have to make a mutually agreed decision about the validity of the expense and the corrective measure (if any). You alone don't get to decide that it's too much money and not worth it, nor should you in the face of the knowledge that this is something that quite literally makes your partner feel better.

#3 is your perspective about therapy. It is clear that you think very little of therapy, and that's your business. It's a pretty close analog to someone who doesn't believe in God and therefore thinks very little of people who go to church.

And yet, you seem like someone who would know better than to say to a loved one, "I think that church stuff is all a bunch of malarkey. Your beliefs are silly and next you'll tell me that you believe in fairies and elves too."

Of course you didn't say that out loud to your wife—but it seems to be pretty close to what you say to yourself in your head, about your wife's closely held belief.

You might try having your own session with the therapist, one on one. Explain that your goal is not to spy or break a doctor-patient confidence, but to understand the activity for yourself, and why it is so valuable to her.

Again, you personally don't have to come around to the idea of therapy, to come around to the idea that it is a very important and valuable resource for the person you are supposed to love more than any other in the world, forever, amen.

Overall, reuscam, I think your best bet here is to tackle each of these things separately. Rolling up your skepticism about therapy in with your resentment over your wife's debts and spending, plus a dose of "why can't she just get over her dad's death, already", into one conversation is pretty much a recipe for total marital disaster.

I say start with the money. It's a tangible issue to attack, one that is more black and white than the others. And in the interim, maybe you privately can find time to examine why you don't trust your wife about her needs, and how you can accept (even if you never embrace) her feelings about the value of therapy.
posted by pineapple at 12:39 PM on October 22, 2010 [35 favorites]


I am pretty sure I know all of the major issues in her life.

I didn't get the impression that liketitanic claimed you didn't know your wife, just that there is a possibility that she may have some deep seated issues that you may not know about. This is true in any relationship, regardless of how well you know the person.

My point is that even if I know every event that ever happened to her, ever interaction she recalled, every relationship she held sacred, I would still not know how long a reasonable time is in therapy.

It sounds like you're still trying to find some tried and true method of figuring out how long her therapy might last. While this is definitely a legitimate concern, I don't know if that's what you should be worried about right now.
posted by Shirley88 at 12:40 PM on October 22, 2010


I've been in therapy a few times now (and am again currently) and every therapist I've worked with has had a treatment plan with specific goals. It may be that your wife's therapist doesn't do that - it may be that your wife isn't familiar with the concept. It may be any number of things. Maybe you should ask about that. Really, I think you should ask about a lot of things.

But going into therapy is itself a HARD decision - please, please, please understand this. For your wife to go to therapy even while you think it's not worthwhile, a waste of time and money, so on and so forth - that's hard. Other people hold these beliefs, too. These beliefs sink into people, and they make it really hard to get help for problems, or seek outside perspective, because hey folks made due without for so long and it's expensive and talking about your problems seems soooo egotistical and all of those things. I'm pretty sure your wife's not an idiot. She knows it's expensive - she sees the bills, right? She knows the cultural attitudes towards therapy - they're out there to hear, and in her own household. The fact that she's going at all is a major, major thing. It means that despite all of that, she finds it beneficial and worthwhile. If it's become a big enough thing for you to post a question to internet strangers to get some outside perspective on the issue, maybe you should try to find out *why* and *how* she finds it beneficial. Seriously.
posted by lriG rorriM at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


And because I always think of just one more thing - there's respecting your wife's privacy in regards to her therapy (and in general), and then there's avoiding the subject because it's touchy and a little weird. My husband has asked me - gently - questions about my therapy. How do I like my therapist? Do I feel like I'm getting something out of the sessions? How am I feeling, since I went to therapy today (he knows it can be pretty rough sometimes). That sort of thing. This is, in no way, prying for details or asking things like "so, do you talk about me?" (which I bet he would LOVE to ask, actually, but he's tactful enough to suppress that). He expresses curiosity and gives me openings to talk about it, and so I've told him some about the treatment plan, brought up some of the communication tools I've learned, talked some about how I'm feeling in regard to specific issues - and he knows some of the issues I'm dealing with, though not all. If he didn't ask me about it at all, I would assume he didn't want to know, especially because he is anti-therapy for himself. He's supportive, but could never bring himself to talk to a stranger about personal issues. Use these techniques with your wife. Show healthy curiosity in this facet of her life, and she'll open up to you. There is no singular answer to how long one can reasonably be in therapy, but maybe you can figure that out with her.
posted by lriG rorriM at 12:47 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


My point is ... I would still not know how long a reasonable time is in therapy.

Because there is no standard measure of how long is a "reasonable" time in therapy for every person ever. It's different for every person ever, in fact. And it's perhaps a little arrogant to imagine that you know everything that's a major issue in her life--for example, if she's talking to her therapist about feeling MONUMENTALLY unsupported in other areas of her life, you would appear to be fairly unaware of the possibility that she might have such feelings.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:47 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shirley:
"A year . . . really isn't that long. I guess I'm starting to wonder how much you even know about her life and experiences."
posted by liketitanic
posted by reuscam at 12:49 PM on October 22, 2010


Seems to me that this thread has partially derailed into a contest between people who think therapy is a waste of time, and people IN therapy who take offense to that.

Let's boil it down -- the question was "how can I wean my wife off of therapy, because I don't think we can afford it?"

I would posit that only real choice here is to have a frank and open discussion with your wife about what she gets out of it, if she feels that she still needs it at the frequency she is currently getting, whether she would feel comfortable asking if the rate can be cut, etc.

I appreciate the OP's desire to respect his wife's privacy by not prying, but I don't think it means that any discussion of therapy has to be off the table -- you don't need to ask her about the content of the sessions, but rather what she is hoping to get from them in a general sense, and whether she feels like this is a life-long need, etc.

For those of who hinting at or outright suggesting divorce -- grow up. These are real people with real problems in a real relationship, not some ridiculous tale of woe where DTMA is the obvious response.
posted by modernnomad at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't have much experience with individual therapy, but many years ago I went to a therapist for a couple of months to help get over a traumatic event. I was going about once a week for about a month and twice a week for a few months after that. At this point the cost became very burdensome and I asked the therapist if, based upon my suspected need for a couple more months of therapy twice a month, if the fee could be reduced ~20% or so. My therapist responded, in my impression, somewhat defensively, claiming that asking for a discount was diminishing the value of the therapy and my investment in it. That was my last session with that therapist.

I assume this is a very uncommon response from a therapist, but I thought I'd throw that in there in case your spouse decides to ask for a charge per visit reduction. It's possible, as it was in my case, that it could fracture the relationship between them...a whole lot more than asking to go twice a month versus 4 times a month.
posted by teg4rvn at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2010


I still think the therapy thing isn't a issue (regardless if the OP values it or not). The real issue is them both coming up with a strategy to address managing their finances together.

OP, you're suggesting a individually designed strategy (she give up/do less therapy) for a joint problem (getting/keeping your finances early). It may seem logical and efficient, but it isn't necessarily the most politically savvy step to take. You're putting yourself on the hook to:

1) continue to solely decide and be responsible for financial decisions
2) any resentment she feels about having to give up therapy

It's also taking her off the hook, as she can blame you for any adverse affects she feels because 'you made the decision(s)' (for her to give up therapy, or whatever other fiscal measures seem prudent for your household). This approach usually isn't long term successful. Because it may come out as her spending more on other things that might be less effective, perhaps even to be spiteful.

I think effective leaders/partners identify the problem (We are not yet in a financially healthy place - which we are both defining as X - and we need to get there). They then put everyone on the hook for coming up with a solution and then working towards it.

You're trying the "oh maybe we both by default decided that I was better at figuring out the finances, so I'm just doing what needs to be done" strategy. That will always make you 'the bad guy'. She can drag her feet or not work towards the goal in other ways. And that will just frustrate you.

So try the less efficient, but more long term effective choice. Talk to her and lay it all out, with numbers. We both think it's important to be financially healthy yes? How do we both define this? Based on this definition, where are we in relation to it? Look at all of your income and expenses and let each person start cutting joint and their own expenses first. See how close you are to your goal. Only suggest cutbacks on the other person's expenses last. Because often those will be the most valuable to the other person, and it means they will take the least hit.

This might be a longer way to get to the 'cutting back to 2-3 times a month on therapy' option, but it also opens up other possibilities that might not touch the amount of therapy at all: cutting back entirely on other expenses, reallocations of funds of other previously seemingly third rail/can't be touched types of expenses, the possibility of taking on a little more work, etc. It can also lead more naturally to conversations that explore option with the therapist on a sliding scale, or the possibility of 1-2 individual therapy and 1-2 less expensive group therapy situations.

It could also mean some larger changes. For example, perhaps she keeps the $240 in therapy and uses the rest of her money to pay down her debt. In return, you pay more on the mortgage, but also own a greater percentage - say 70% - of the house. So in the long term you will see more return - 70%, and not be 'penalized' for her debt or choices. I know couples who have done this, and it's worked out quite nicely.

Whatever you all come up with, you're then both obliged to work towards it. So no one is a dead weight because everyone got to choose their own poison to some degree. An you don't open yourself up to her scrutinizing the value of expenses you hold dear: Why do you (still) get toeat out twice a week? Or get that starbucks, those tickets, etc? Because as soon as that happens many have been foolishly tempted to point out the reasonable fact: 'because I make more than you'... and at that point one minus well just slam their own fingers in a door, because one is about to enter a special kind of argument-purgatory.

My point is, what you think of therapy, and 'weaning' her off of it is actually a distraction to what will address your real problem. This is really a question about what your financial goals are and how you work towards those goals. But you know, this 'how we use money' fisty-cuffs is so common for new couples - I'm still in that category myself. But you can navigate this well with out blame or judgment. Everyone has to at some point. I think it's just part of being married.

Good luck!
posted by anitanita at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


whoopsie edit:

"Getting/keeping your finances TOGETHER" not "Getting/keeping your finances EARLY".

Typing too fast.....
posted by anitanita at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2010



I suppose I don't value therapy at all. I would prefer to talk out my problems with friends and family.


Like your wife, I lost a parent. Some of my feelings and issues surrounding that bereavement were not something I could talk to family about for sure, and they are still not something I feel comfortable discussing with friends - friends i have known for 5, 10 years. Some things are not easy to discuss with those close to you because there is the fear it may change perceptions or feelings.
posted by mippy at 1:02 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought you were replying to liketitanic's most recent comment (at the time), my apologies. However I had read the previous statement containing that quote above and while a little snarky, I can't say I necessarily disagree. There are many things I have never shared with my closest family members, friends, or boyfriend (who I love and trust immensely). A therapist is a neutral, passive listener that one can open up to without fear of judgement, how one's comments might affect the relationship with that person, or to find ways to communicate better with loved ones. The only way you're gonna know how therapy is working for your wife is to just ask her.
posted by Shirley88 at 1:08 PM on October 22, 2010


but my impression is that she discusses everything under the sun. cont'd..

what are your feelings about her discussing your marriage with the counselor? Is it a man or a woman?


I suggest asking to go one time to find out what it is like.

that way you won't be speculating.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on October 22, 2010


What are your wife's goals with therapy?
What are the therapist's goals with the therapy?

What are your goals in regards to your wife's happiness and bereavement?
What are the family's goals when it comes to paying off debt?

Of those questions, I think the first two are the most important. I wonder if these goals have been defined for the long term or not.

Let's say the therapy was free, and your wife wanted to keep going indefinitely: how would that make you feel? Would you lose respect for her because she kept going? What value do you hold that is being violated by her going and what value of hers is being validated by her continuing to go?

There is a conflict of values happening here which has been created by the inertia of time. Regardless of what some people have said, you are becoming more resentful and if this is not addressed then it will rear its head in passive aggressive manners (ie, making snide remarks at the tele when Dr. Phil offers his thoughts, for example).
posted by fantasticninety at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2010


Iron: Discussing our marriage in general is fine. I'm sure I would disagree with some discussions, however. My presence there would certainly change the topic and taste of the discussions, so I don't think it will help with my speculation.
posted by reuscam at 1:24 PM on October 22, 2010


> My wife started visiting a therapist nearly a year ago, shortly after the death of her father.

If, after a year, your wife still believes she needs to see her therapist once per week, her therapist is incompetent.

Therapy, properly applied, is a process of giving people tools to function, make wiser choices, and feel better... without depending on the therapist.

If it continues for three months of weekly treatments, let alone six months or a year, it's plain that the therapist is not delivering those tools, and is instead running-- probably unconsciously, or from sheer incompetence and unfamiliarity with more effective techniques-- an emotional-addiction process; he or she is merely a paid confidant(e).

As someone above asked, does your wife have a specific treatment plan, with a measurable goal as the end result?
posted by darth_tedious at 1:25 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't have much to add other than I feel it is really odd that you don't really have any idea why she goes to therapy, other than in the beginning when her father died. I have several good friends in therapy and they regularly mention something that happened in therapy. I don't ask mind you, but it often comes up in conversation and I certainly know the generaly reasons they go: anxiety, a divorce, chronic depression, etc..

I know you want to respect her privacy, but there are ways of asking that aren't prying. Ask a broad question, if she gives you a vague response she probably doesn't want to talk about it, but she very well may want to tell you, but hasn't because of your general attitude towards therapy and undoubtedly the tension it causes in your marriage.

I hate to say this, but there is a very good chance that you don't know why she goes to therapy because she's going to talk about your marriage.
posted by whoaali at 1:26 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have several good friends in therapy and they regularly mention something that happened in therapy

That pretty much NEVER happens in my circle. FWIW.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:33 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


In all honesty, if she is contributing money to the mutual pot, and if she can help cover the cost, I really think it's none of your business what her goals in therapy are, why she goes, whether she wants to keep going for infinity more years, or that she goes in the first place.

I think a lot of you answerers are trying to be helpful, but maybe without fully understanding what therapy actually is in terms of confidentiality and boundaries. Wife is in INDIVIDUAL therapy, not couples therapy. Her therapy is HER therapy, not theirs together. OP does not have some kind of automatic right to know about her treatment plan or therapeutic goals unless she decides that it's ok with her to share. We do not know NEARLY enough information about this situation to make such sweeping judgments about this person being somehow obligated to explain all about her private therapy.
posted by so_gracefully at 1:33 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


> there is a very good chance that you don't know why she goes to therapy because she's going to talk about your marriage.

This is probably true.

Insofar as the best way to fix a marriage or relationship is clearer and more extensive communication between the partners-- as opposed to simply talking about the marriage to a therapist--, to the degree that the OP doesn't seem to be being drawn into better communication with his wife, the existing approach seems not to be working.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The earlier suggestion of having separate "allowances" makes sense. Maybe you each get $100 per week to spend on yourselves (if you can afford it). You might spend yours on eating lunch out everyday and she might spend hers on therapy?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:36 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm not sure I'd include therapy in that pot in general, though, any more than I would ER visits.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:37 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of you answerers are trying to be helpful, but maybe without fully understanding what therapy actually is in terms of confidentiality and boundaries. Wife is in INDIVIDUAL therapy, not couples therapy. Her therapy is HER therapy, not theirs together. OP does not have some kind of automatic right to know about her treatment plan or therapeutic goals unless she decides that it's ok with her to share.

To be fair, so_gracefully, this is only the hard firm standard if OP and his wife have decided that it is.

"What therapy actually is" is a really broad and deep pool. To expect someone who isn't familiar with therapy to just magically know that some people consider every single aspect of their treatment to be wholly private is unrealistic.

The wife has a right to say, "Every piece of this is between me and the doctor, and I won't share it with you."

But the husband certainly has the right to know about her treatment plan to the extent that it affects the family finances—and he has the right to ask what his role is to be in her therapy, whether detached observer, active patient, or something else altogether.

In a healthy marriage, or in a marriage that is striving toward good health, nothing should be done in a vacuum. Therapy isn't something that gets privately wielded as a trump card by one partner over the other. Partner A doesn't need Partner B's permission, but common courtesy dictates at least trying to obtain a blessing.

Iron: Discussing our marriage in general is fine. I'm sure I would disagree with some discussions, however. My presence there would certainly change the topic and taste of the discussions, so I don't think it will help with my speculation.

reuscam
, I want to clarify my suggestion that you go visit your wife's therapist, based on your reply to Iron.

I don't believe you should go and attend one of her sessions. I believe you should go by yourself, and spend 50 minutes meeting the doctor, with the goal of learning more about your wife's experience.

You can explain outright to the doctor that you are skeptical of therapy in general, but that out of respect for your wife, you would like to understand a little about the doctor's practice, his/her philosophies about therapy, is he/she sort of the traditional CBT type, and if not, what his/her approach is. Gather information so you can have some empathy for your wife.

If nothing else, you will be a more informed participant when you and your wife talk about this in the future. It's fairly weak to completely dismiss or argue against something you've never even actually seen for yourself.
posted by pineapple at 1:47 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm actually really surprised at the uproar your question has caused. Yes, it is true that you seem to be quite judgmental about therapy and have no idea how much it is or is not helping your wife, and also have little respect for it. I would consider revisiting your own outlook on therapy, first, as many have suggested.

That being said, I've come to believe that mefi is way too eager to suggest and support therapy. I've been through it myself, and have experienced good results, so I understand the value of it. However, people, not everyone can afford therapy. Especially not $70 weekly therapy, when she is already in debt. True, this is her own situation is deal with, and it is her own responsibility to balance money and what she is actually getting out of this. She might have thought about this already, and deemed therapy worthy. She might just be dependent on it and doesn't care how much money she is spending. The OP is not automatically the bad guy, can we stop berating him?

Ultimately, OP, I don't think you can control your wife's decision to go to therapy. You should first try to understand more about therapy in general and discuss with her in a sensitive way what she's getting out of it. It will make you more understanding and less resentful, I think.

Also, can you look into cheaper therapists? Do you have insurance? Many insurance policies can cover a large portion. Also, what kind of therapy is this? From what I understand, unless the person has huge underlying issues or a traumatic past, therapy does not need to last forever. The more effective ones would be giving her tools to manage her own life, not as a soapbox for her to talk about her problems with no tools on how to manage those issues in the future. But again, this is her call to make, not yours.

Can you just have separate accounts, or at least allocate cash for personal expenditures? That way, she spends her money as she chooses, whether that be therapy or clothes. I agree that your underlying issue is not about therapy, but how to manage money, especially when you deem what your wife spends it on to be frivolous.
posted by lacedcoffee at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Listen. I was similarly inclined, as was my husband when we got married. Did not think much of therapy AT ALL.

Then I had a complete nervous breakdown and my husband basically said, "If you don't go to the doctor on your own, I'm taking you to the hospital."

I was "talking to friends" but not about my abuse issues or the fucked up way I was raised, because I just needed to suck it up and deal with it, after all, I'm an adult. Well, that didn't fucking work.

Now I'm in therapy. Have been on and off for about 7 years. I'm not done either. I have shit to work out. I've made progress. A ton of progress and my husband would much rather spend a couple hundred of our precious dollars than have me laying in bed unable to get anything done.

Not saying that this will necessarily happen to your wife, but honestly, I didn't think it would happen to me either. I'm a pretty logical person. I rely on intellect and therapy sounded like bullshit. It's not. It may even keep you and your wife together.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:08 PM on October 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


>>It would not be reasonable to ask her to stop going to therapy. It would be reasonable to ask her to evaluate whether or not she actually needs to go weekly or if she could safely cut back to every other week or once a month. It must be approached in a "look, money is kinda tight right now, so if you can, it would be helpful if you could cut back on the therapy a bit. If not, that's totally OK, because your mental health is far more important to me than the money" sort of way.

I'm leaning toward this (from Wierdo), although it's a dicey conversation at best. One thought that might help you get into the conversation: It's not uncommon for people in therapy to "plateau." That is, to reach a point where you're not really progressing at this point in time. Sometimes (not always), this is a reasonable point at which to scale back on hours, with the implication that a future return to the schedule is OK if needed. So I'm picturing the conversation entry being you trying to get her take on whether she is still feeling like something powerful is being accomplished on an ongoing basis, or is SHE is feeling like this has turned more into a weekly coffee-klatsch that isn't really serving the original purpose (unpacking the heavy stuff). If it's the latter, there might be room to ask about whether stepping back might be a conceivable move for her.

Understand, though, you're sticking you're hand into fire. If you think there's a need to re-assess, by all means, do so. Just don't expect that the initial reaction will be reasonable. Even if you do get your head bit off, though, the good news is that it will probably come up in therapy. If the therapist is not busy paying off a boat, they may surprise you by supporting your contention that the visits could be scaled back. Or, they (therapist OR wife) may quite legitimately feel that now is not a good time to scale back.
posted by Ys at 2:15 PM on October 22, 2010


Up until about 50 years ago, *everyone* made it through a death without therapy. Thats what friends and family are for.

Try not to inflict nostalgia on people. Up until about 60 years ago, not nearly as many people had cars or money for airplanes and entertainment, so "family and friends" were a more integral part of a person's life than they are now. In an age where many of the conventions of way-back-when have disintegrated into a puddle of divorce and TV-watching, therapy manytimes fills in the structural gaps vacated by those social relationships. Anecdata: my family and most of my friends proved themselves utterly worthless when my dad died.
posted by rhizome at 2:21 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to touch the 'weaning' part of this question with a ten foot pole, because it hit a nerve with me like it did for other people, but my therapist is excellent beyond excellent and my insurance pays for my therapy, almost completely. He has a nice private office and everything. I don;t know where you are -- I'm in NYC, and there are a ton of options that there might not be elsewhere -- but there's a good chance some or all of her therapy could be covered. It always baffles me how much people talk about the cost of therapy-- because in many cases, it can be covered, and in another, therapists have to eat, too...asking for a rate reduction is like taking a pay cut -- of course they won't want to do it.
posted by sweetkid at 2:27 PM on October 22, 2010


Okay well, it seems like your impression is that she was dealing with an issue of adjustment (her father's death) and you were fine with her spending the money for that.

However, now she seems healthy and happy and is not in crisis, and you think that the $70 a week is an inappropriate amount to spend unless she is in a crisis situation or is addressing something major that she can't address on her own.

That is perfectly reasonable, I think. Therapy for the mentally healthy is not a necessity or an entitlement.


"Hey, wife, therapy is expensive. Can you talk to your therapist about maybe cutting down? Is there going to be an end point? It's a significant expense and I would like more information about it so we can decide about it as a couple."



*Lest you think I am a therapy hater, between my partner and I, we have 3 therapists (!) and 2 psychiatrists. That's 5 (oy) mental health professionals for one little family of two. However, I have no doubt that we could do with much less therapy than we get.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:40 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also I'm not really sure why it has to be so touchy--my partner asked me to consider cutting down on therapy when I was paying for it out of pocket.

We do work as a team and he does support me emotionally, but the teamwork goes both ways and I can't pretend that the money I spend doesn't affect him.

If my spending money on therapy bothers and worries him, that's something I have to balance against the emotional benefit I get from therapy.

It's not all about my mental health and happiness just because I'm the "identified patient".

However, keep it about you and what YOU NEED to be happy in your partnership, not about what you think about therapy in general.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:47 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


We do work as a team and he does support me emotionally, but the teamwork goes both ways and I can't pretend that the money I spend doesn't affect him.

Great point.

She deserves to go to therapy and you deserve to bring up your concerns about money. Absolutely.

I would suggest you guys do a little couples counseling (but not in place of her therapy) so you can clarify your needs and she can clarify hers. It sounds like you're not entirely having your needs met in this relationship, and that deserves a conversation. But, it's very delicate, and putting the blame on her and the money she is spending on a therapist is a bad idea.

A good couples therapist can quickly help you guys clarify these problems and work together towards a solution. I've done couples counseling and had progress in 1 or 2 sessions. Real progress. Plus, you'll get to experience therapy in action, and maybe that'll shed some light on how it helps your wife.
posted by Rocket26 at 3:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before therapy--which did not begin to be widely used 50 years ago, but more like 100 years ago--most people in the West were adherents of a religion, and coped with bereavement, in many cases, by getting spiritual counseling from clergy members.

Which, in most of the Christian traditions at least, cost you 10% of your income. Seems to me like people today are getting off easy if they're seeing a therapist for $70/week.

Of course, it sounds like you are budgeting an awful lot for bootstraps, so I can see why cash might be tight.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


This isn't about therapy. This is about finances.

You two should haul out your budget and look at it together. For the purposes of the discussion the therapy should be a nonnegotiable part of the budget. (Trust me on this.) Look at the rest of your outgo-there have got to be other places money can be saved. (I've recently taken up couponing as a necessary hobby and boy howdy is it helping, for example.) If you two can get on board with the goal of kicking the debt in the butt it will draw you closer together. That way SHE can come up with the idea of trying to cut down therapy to every other week. You won't be the bad guy. And hey, if you struggle with this, suggest to her she bring it up to her....wait for it....


Therapist.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:29 PM on October 22, 2010


[folks, I know this is a hotbutton topic for some of you but you need to either answer the question or go to MeTa at this point ]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:30 PM on October 22, 2010


You can decide to make this argument about your wife's irresponsibility coupled with her dependence on therapy for longer than you think is really necessary, but you're not going to win that argument because your rationale is really simplistic. I mean, you're clearly a logical person. Can you tell me how you would irrefutably prove that how people coped with death and loss fifty years ago is superior to how we do it today? Because I can show you a mountain of anecdotal evidence that some of these folks became passive-aggressive, fearful little mole-people who fretted over every little thing; or, they became raging assholes who abused their kids and spouses; or, they became rigid and small-minded, cleaved to religious and/or militaristic dogma, and lived tiny, uptight, unfulfilling lives. Some of these folks would have probably dropped dead or violently hurled if confronted with their own unpleasant feelings, much less the genuine grief of someone close to them. Romanticizing these people weakens the more valid argument that your wife ought be willing to sacrifice some of her less essential expenditures, given that it's her debt you're now both attempting to pay down. But it's not your place to determine her therapy isn't essential, I'm sorry to say; you're her husband, not her parent. And let's face it - it's not only shitty to judge her therapy as non-essential; it's also completely pointless. When all is said and done, you're still going to have the debt PLUS you'll then have a pissed off spouse without a therapist to talk to about it. And you do need to ask yourself whether saving $70 bucks a week is worth alienating your spouse.

Now, let me ask you something else - is she really unwilling? Is she really being unreasonable? Is her therapy the most expensive, "non-essential" thing you both purchase every month? Has she actually looked at you, called you an unfeeling ogre for daring to suggest such a thing, and stormed out? I'm asking you because it feels to me like you're here to build a case for scrapping things you've deemed frivolous and unnecessary, and you're being pretty cavalier and callous in your reasoning. You sound a little mean, actually. And that's not helpful at all because clearly you love your wife or you wouldn't have married her, and you certainly wouldn't feel as guilty as you obviously do about asking her to make this sacrifice. And it will be a sacrifice because therapy is good for many people, particularly if they've lost someone whose presence they find comforting, enjoyable and necessary to their happiness. I, myself, have been in therapy for ten years. Maybe I'm a slow learner or a late bloomer, I can't say for sure. I just know therapy has enabled me and my SO to have a better life. (For what it's worth, I know he considers my therapy to have been instrumental in making our relationship stronger and better, now that he knows that my therapy is a boon rather than a threat to our relationship.)

When the two of you look at your finances, what do you see that might also go? You mentioned music in your question - is that something you two could agree to spend less money on per month? What about things like going out to eat, going to the movies or concerts, purchasing clothes/shoes, etc? What about dropping cable? What about cheaper cell phone plans? What about switching gyms or eating less meat or buying cheaper wine or beer or brown-bagging it for lunch? Have you considered getting rid of your car, if you have one? What about coffee? I'm serious. If one or both of your drinks, say, a Starbucks coffee every morning, I don't need to tell you dropping that one habit alone would save you between fifty and a hundred bucks a month. What about an allowance for BOTH of you, or a set amount BOTH of you contribute to a savings account? How about working with her to do everything you can to keep her therapy? Could she ask her therapist if he/she would consider a discounted rate, a sliding scale, or shorter (less expensive) sessions? Yes, she brought debt to the relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter now. Both of you have to cope with it.

I encourage you to risk having this difficult conversation with your wife without arming yourself with a list of her expenditures that you've decided are stupid or unnecessary. That's just going to end in exactly what you fear - her thinking you're an asshole and you feeling like one. Look at your finances and see where you can both take steps to economize. And, if you can't do it without a fight ensuing or one or both of you feeling attacked, you might want to consider asking for a third-party's objective opinion to help you sort it out. Best of luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I tried to do this with my ex.. Her therapist told her not to see me anymore . dont do it.
posted by 3mendo at 6:22 PM on October 22, 2010


$70 per week for therapy is a bargain compared to some of the other ways that your wife's grief etc. could end up being expressed in the absence of therapy:

* being sad all the time, loss of joy in life (including loss of joy in her relationship with you);
* loss of libido;
* job burnout;
* compulsive spending/shopping to mask her emotional pain;
* severe clinical depression;
* developing an eating disorder;
* alcohol dependence (alcoholism).

Do you want your wife to be as happy and fulfilled as possible?
Do you want your wife to be as productive at work as possible?
Do you want your wife to be the best relationship-partner to you that she can possibly be?
Do you want your wife to be the best parent to any future children that she can possibly be?

If the answer to any of these four questions is yes, then please, don't try to take away her therapy.

Therapy is not enjoyable. It is painful and hard work for the person receiving counselling. It is a root canal for thoughts and emotions.

People only do therapy because they feel that the choice of not doing therapy is worse.
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 6:28 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look, this idea that he can't possibly know what she's up to in therapy goes both ways.

Unless you know her diagnosis, her issues, or what she's working on, you can't definitively say that it's hard work, or if it's enjoyable, or if the other option is depression, or if she would collapse, or if their relationship would fail.

Nor can you say she would be totally fine and run around in sunshine and rainbows because she really doesn't need therapy.

The only solution here is to communicate with her about it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:32 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re: thinking of this as a cost-benefit analysis, as you seem to prefer, it probably actually works out in your favor.

Cost may be 3k a year, but if she stops or cuts back on therapy to "save" money, who knows if she will be able to make it through her week and her life. Who knows, she might get so depressed she loses her job, in which case "saving" $3000 has now cost your family her entire salary.

As far as looking to the past and expenses we didn't "need", I'd argue that a lot of people have, throughout history, become significantly less productive in the wake of grief or loss. eg: sure, grandpa may have sucked up his pain, but then he developed an alcohol problem and worked a menial job for the rest of his life. What if he'd been able to spend 10% of his salary to have a relatively objective observer support him enough to work harder, get promoted, and achieve greater financial stability. small price to pay, right?

nowadays your wife has that option, whether it's keeping her afloat or helping her achieve more, it is likely worth it to her and your family's long term stability.
posted by lesli212 at 6:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also have very unpopular opinions and totally sympathize with the OP. I think life is not meant to have its rough edges all smoothed over, nor every experience analyzed and classified and put in a box. I think many people don't even try to be strong anymore, its all about being the specialist snowflake in the storm. I could never be in a relationship with someone who needed regular therapy, if it makes you feel better you can think of it as a personal preference like not wanting children or not being religious or having a beard. I'd be a terrible fit for them. For what its worth I don't consider therapy totally useless, just mostly.

If I was the OP I would also want my spouse to talk to me and let me know what was wrong so I could help or we could figure out something together. Plus it would save money and help us pay off the huge debt she accumulated. As things stand I think he is feeling left out and burdened while she probably gets special attention and assurance all is well from some stranger each week. The therapist could even be taking advantage of her well past when she needs it just to continue to make money - its a tough economy! Therapists are spoken of like gods on here and nobody considers they are human and could very well suck and even hurt many people.
posted by meepmeow at 7:51 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have talked to many a therapist and many a counselor. They are useful for one reason that many seem to miss: This is a person paid to listen to you, who is impartial and does not have a dog in your particular fight. Friends and family, important as they truly are, are NOT impartial, have biases-either they tend to NOT call you on your bs or they see bs where none exists.

For some things, private things, embarrasing things, or things you wish for your friends and relatives to NOT hold over your head, therapists are great. And they are duty bound to keep their traps shut. Most of us have friends and relatives, God love them, that couldn't be discreet if you paid them.

Since none of us here know the OP and none of us here know his wife, we really cannot say whether or not she is wasting her money or whether or not he is a selfish jerk or simply someone rightfully concerned about their finances. It is foolish to speculate. This is where the two of THEM need to communicate honestly with each other about their concerns.But let me say as one who has had to deal with pretty heavy grief in the past myself, I can see where she might rightfully see the need to pay a stranger 70 bucks a week to be allowed to be where she is in her grief cycle without having to justify her pain to people who expect her to be over it already (and I am not necessarily referring to the husband here, just to be clear.)

Finally, she's a grown woman, employed, and frankly just as entitled as the OP to determine how household funds are spent. So, there's that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:52 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's been my impression that 50 years ago, close friends and family were often interested to hear about one's feelings, and personal issues, and that sort of thing. And today it's frowned upon to use one's support system as... a support system. They tell you to go talk to a therapist instead. I think it's kind of awful. And expensive.

What I'm really saying is.. does your wife have friends and family who she can talk to about these kinds of things? Or do they not want to hear them? Because she might not have anybody she can really talk to.
posted by citron at 11:09 PM on October 22, 2010


I've only read some of the comments, so maybe this has been covered already.

You say that you don't ask her about her therapy "because I want to respect her privacy... I figured if she wanted to discuss it with me, she would, and she has had every opportunity."

I have no idea if your wife is anything like me, but if I was her, my thought stream might go a little something like this...
Reuscam is always attentive when I want to talk about my therapy sessions, but he never asks about it. Why is that? I know he's not really a fan of therapy. And I know it's feeling like a financial burden. Maybe he feels like talking about my sessions is a burden too? I want to talk to him about my last session, but maybe I shouldn't.

There are ways to ask about her therapy while respecting her privacy. You say she has every opportunity to come to you and discuss it, and that's a good... but maybe she wants/needs more than that. Her continuing to go to therapy shows that she feels her mental health is important to her, and maybe she needs you to show interest by YOU bringing it up.

I realize the holes in this comparative example, but I will go with it anyway. Let's switch around discussing therapy with kissing. You never initiate a kiss with your wife. When she kisses you, you always respond well. If she wants to kiss you, she will, and she has every opportunity. ... It's just not as good when it's only a one-way street...

I think you can find ways to ask about her therapy, where you are showing interest AND she won't feel pressured to answer if she doesn't want to.
posted by cheemee at 12:46 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


tldr (not all of it, anyway)
I really think you should attend 3-5 (?) sessions with your wife. It'll show you care enough about her to attempt to understand her and what she's going through (which, by the way, your words in this post certainly DON'T show -- I realize you may not be a jerk, but your way of wording things certainly leads me in that direction). You'll also have a chance to see what's going on there and will then actually have a leg to stand on if you decide to judge what she's doing as unnecessary. And going together will be a way to talk to the therapist about the financial side and ask if a reduced rate is possible.

However, if you can't go with an open mind and heart, ignore everything I've written; you'll only make it worse.
posted by segatakai at 1:32 AM on October 23, 2010


What about things like going out to eat, going to the movies or concerts, purchasing clothes/shoes, etc? What about dropping cable? What about cheaper cell phone plans? What about switching gyms or eating less meat or buying cheaper wine or beer or brown-bagging it for lunch? Have you considered getting rid of your car, if you have one? What about coffee? I'm serious. If one or both of your drinks, say, a Starbucks coffee every morning, I don't need to tell you dropping that one habit alone would save you between fifty and a hundred bucks a month.

A lot of people in debt never bought their lunch or a daily coffee in the first place. We don't know what level of austerity Reuscam and his partner live with - they may have done all this stuff.
posted by mippy at 2:34 AM on October 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think therapy can be a lifesaver, a complete waste of time, or somewhere in between. It's not categorically one or the other. It depends on the therapist, the patient, and whether they work well together.

There's not a set timespan for therapy, either. Some people need it for six months, some for years. I think once you start therapy, you usually don't have a timeframe for when you plan to end it. That comes along once you start feeling better. It's possible she feels she still needs therapy weekly, but it's also possible she is ready to taper off and just hasn't considered it. You could ask her, in a genuinely curious and uncritical way, "Honey, there's a lot I don't understand about therapy. Is it ongoing, or do you work towards a point where you no longer need it?" If she's open towards the idea of having a stopping point in mind, that's something she needs to discuss with her therapist, so they can work out goals and a plan for eventually ending. If she seems mystified or bothered at the idea of stopping, it's a good sign she still gets a lot of benefit from it and needs to continue.

Approach the budget issue completely, completely separately. If you want to cut back on spending, be open to a lot of different possible ways to trim the budget. And have a goal in mind; the more measurable and quicker to reach, the better. "Let's get the balance on X down by $Y by next summer" or "I think we can put $100 more toward our bills every month if we cut out a few things" will go over a lot better than a vague "we're spending too much."

If you're in debt and you've been in debt for a while, you can come to believe that you'll always be in debt and thus be less motivated to get out, even if you really hate owing money and it keeps you up at night. Since she's the one who brought in the debt, she could view debt as a stressor that's not going anywhere, while you view it as something that has to be eliminated as soon as possible.

There's a lot of discussion here about the value of therapy, some about budgeting, and not a whole lot mentioned about exactly how the two of you disagree over your finances. It might be more important to examine why and how you're disagreeing about money than to debate the worth of therapy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:04 AM on October 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


A lot of people in debt never bought their lunch or a daily coffee in the first place. We don't know what level of austerity Reuscam and his partner live with - they may have done all this stuff.


Yeah, I suspect that this is largely about the money and that $70 a week is a bigger chunk of the OP's budget than people have been assuming. It may not be as simple as stopping going out to dinner on date nights to pay for therapy, or something like that.

OP, when I say "mainly about the money," I mean that my guess is this probably wouldn't bother you if it didn't cost anything. (Although if she were going to 12-step meetings, or something else free, you might find you had trouble with her being away in the eventings; it happens.)

I really sympathize with having a hard time seeing value in weekly sessions of which you know nothing but which are costing a large chunk of your budget. I agree with other posters who have suggested having more open discussions about both the therapy and the money. It might even be feasible to go together to the therapist and say you have these issues and what is the outlook? Your wife's therapist might be able to suggest something like cutting back or swapping half the private sessions for group therapy. I did exactly that: went to a private session one week and a (less expensive) women's group the next. I found both equally valuable and the combination incredibly so. And I did eventually stop going altogether.

Finally, when you talk about "50 years ago," all I can think is "Mad Men!" Watch a few episodes and think if you want to be living in that world.
posted by BibiRose at 8:58 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


European perspective: Americans are obsessed with therapy, counselling, and psychotropic drugs. As far as I can tell this is unnecessary for the vast majority of people who use them but, as someone else posited further up, their popularity is basically down to profiteering.

I think your feelings may come from the fact that your wife is having regular deep and personal conversations with someone who is not you - and potentially more often than she has them with you (you both work, tired in the evenings, busy at weekends, etc). Marriage, as advertised, isn't supposed to be like that.

If I'm right, then that should be the issue you bring up with her rather than your doubts about the efficacy of therapy or money matters. If her therapy is having an adverse effect on you that is a problem that needs to be solved somehow.
posted by dickasso at 11:26 AM on October 23, 2010


i donʻt think itʻs unreasonable to ask her to cut back her visits. what life issues could possibly be happening that canʻt be discussed at longer intervals?
posted by elle.jeezy at 3:04 PM on October 23, 2010


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