Breaking up was all too easy to do, staying broken up is hard
July 18, 2008 8:12 PM   Subscribe

I need to find a very good marriage counselor in the Kansas City area, ASAP. My relationship has ended and there's a child at stake.

My partner and I have had a very sorted, whirlwind of a relationship for almost 3 years now. I immediately got pregnant after we started dating and together the decision was made to have the baby since at the time, we were in love. Now that baby is almost 2 years old and his mom and dad are no longer living together.

The relationship suffers from the following (experienced by one or both parties): a complete lack of appreciation for anything even though I have almost completely supported him financially (I earn over 80% of the household income), lack of respect, poor communication in that plenty of words are spoken but the message is often not comprehended, terrible housekeeping skills, and lack of trust.

My partner and I are both in our 30s and are hetero. We are willing to travel as far as Topeka (from Kansas City) for therapy, and could go once a week or more if deemed necessary. I am currently living outside of the "marital home" and we've just started a shared custody of our son. I'm not quite ready to give up the ghost on our relationship yet though and am desperate for resources. Is a live counselor the way to go? Should I buy the John Gottman materials? The number of posts and websites on the subject is overwhelming and I'm looking for people with personal experience with a counselor or marriage materials that have helped them.

Any counselor that we see needs to be exceptional. We just ended our sessions with a counselor that I adored but who admitted that we were the toughest couple that she'd ever seen professionally and suggested that we should not be together. Yet we continue to try and fit the round peg into the square hole to make "us" work.

Thank you, MeFi. My throwaway email is
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think Gottman's book or anyone else's will do any good if you are such a tough couple.

I don't have a suggestion for a therapist but if since you and your partner are living apart, you might find the following book very useful for how to handle the situation with your son. it is called Mom's House, Dad's House.

Finally, I respect your commitment to trying to make your marriage work instead of giving up. After all, even if you do divorce, you will linked together for a minimum of 15 years as the parents of your child. Assuming that your husband is also willing to try hard then there is hope. If you can find the right therapist, then I'm sure the two of you find a way to do what is best for your family (whether you end up separate or together.)
posted by metahawk at 9:37 PM on July 18, 2008

I suggest a clergyman. They tend to be focused on keeping the family unit together and will start with that premise unlike many therapists.
posted by zia at 9:48 PM on July 18, 2008

Actually the search functionality doesn't go back far enough, so here's a link to one of our last threads (we're Calystra & Ceberon).

You should be able to click on people's profiles & get to our past posts as well with a little digging. Anyway, I think the message boards have a lot of value, and I wish you luck.
posted by ceberon at 11:03 PM on July 18, 2008

I'm in my couples counseling class right now, where Gottman is God. It sounds like you two have at least 3 of Gottman's 4 Horses of the Apocalypse --Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. I think your counselor is right -- it's time to let it go.

It's probably time for you two to both go to a couples' divorce counselor to work out your separation issues privately so that the split can be most amicable for the children. Meanwhile, one or both of you should pursue individual therapy so that you can learn how to be "me" again instead of "us."

I would especially recommend that you get therapy, since it sounds like you have some valid feelings of a misplaced investment -- you gave several years of your life and a sizeable amount of your income, time, and commitment to making this work, and it didn't work out the way you wanted it to. That is a loss you need to grieve. And while you are grieving, you can take the time to learn how to be alone again.

It's hard when a relationship goes bad. There will always be a place in your heart for your partner. Part of you will always wish it had worked out. Hopefully a therapist can help you work through it and come to an acceptable place of resolution.

I wish I knew of somebody, but I don't. However, I will recommend that you check out the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) for marriage counselors near you. And here is the American Counseling Association of Missouri in Kansas City (ACAM-KC).

Don't forget: if you want to use insurance, make sure to ask your company whether the provider is covered under your insurance plan.
posted by mynameismandab at 11:27 PM on July 18, 2008

There are 3 Gottman certified therapists in St Louis, and even though that is too far for you, they may be able to refer you to someone in your neck of the woods.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:48 AM on July 19, 2008

We saw George Turner for a while. He's amazing. You wouldn't think it, based on his website, but I can't reccomend him enough.
posted by clcapps at 7:08 AM on July 19, 2008

Let's see what you have said here. Your relationship has ended, yet you are not willing to give up. You lived together, now you live apart, but you are looking for a marriage counselor. The counselor has to be exceptional, because the last counselor, who was adored, said you should split up. You continue to try to fit the square peg into the round hole, although there is lack of appreciation for financial support, lack of respect, poor communication, poor housekeeping and lack of trust.

What haven't you said? You haven't said one thing about why you want to stay together with the guy. Part of that is because you do not type everything about your life into a MeFi text box. But I suspect part of that is because you are not quite clear on what "being together" with a person means.

Here is what I suggest: Sit down and take some time to yourself. Write down what it means to be together with a person. Frame it in terms of positives - what has to be there for it to work - and in terms of negatives - what is not acceptable in the relationship. Take some time. Make it general but complete. Describe your ideal relationship.

Then take another sheet of paper and write PROS and CONS in 2 columns on it. You are going to be objective now. Referring to the first piece of paper, on which you have put a very specific definition of a satisfactory relationship, under PROS write down ways in which your current relationship fulfills the definition, and under CONS write down ways in which your current relationship fails to fulfill (or violates) the definition.

Put the papers away for a week and then come back and read what you wrote. If, at that point, what to do is not obvious, then go find that "exceptional" counselor. Walk in and start by handing her your sheets of paper.

This process, that I am asking you to go through, has nothing to do with your SO. He should not be involved in any part of it. It is about you getting in touch with your thoughts and desires and needs. The reason that I suggest it is because from your question I think a lot of those things could stand clarification, especially in the places where you are so conflicted.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2008 [5 favorites]

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