So....we stopped going to therapy. It was a somewhat mutual decision; we both agreed that we did not like this particular woman. G was fairly adamant that we didn't need therapy, "But if YOU really feel we should go, research new people, meet with someone, and if they are better, I'll go with you". Doing all that the first time took a not unsubstantial amount of time and mental energy, which I possessed only because of the high hopes I carried about therapy. Now that those hopes are deflated, I don't really have the momentum to go through the process again. So I agreed to take a hiatus, and see how things go, with a plan to revisit the idea in 2014 if I think we need it.
In retrospect, I should have trusted my instincts on this. My first meeting with the woman, I noticed that her voice and mannerisms were somewhat annoying. But, I have a tendency to make snap judgements about people based on certain characteristics (voice is a big one...I've dropped classes because the professor's voice drove me up the wall), and I wanted to see if I could get past it. Also, I was lazy (see above re: process); there was nothing fundamentally wrong with her at the first meeting, so I wasn't eager to start over again. And I guess I was desperate to talk to someone about things, that I really had a lot to say the first session, the time flew by, and I felt hopeful that she could help us.
The second session was more awkward. There were several moments when I didn't have anything more to say, and she just sat there staring. Some guidance would've been immensely helpful---asking me about specific aspects about marriage, other aspects of my life...I don't know, is that not how it works? At the time, I chalked the awkwardness up to me being sick (as soon as I left, I realized I had chills, and a really fuzzy head, and was down with a bad cold for the next few days). Also, I assumed that since my major problems were with my marriage, that I didn't need much individual therapy, and that I needed to bring G in, since I'd run out of things to say myself.
So I brought G in, he did not protest or ask many questions. He showed up, and he participated. She asked him to "talk about you", and it was quite enlightening for me to see all the personal struggle he's going through, trying to maintain his identity in the wake up life's upheaval after having the boys. We talked about strategies for carving time out for himself on weekends, strategies for making the kind of progress at work that would lead to more satisfaction, and some ideas of how we could find time to talk more. Even in that session, I got the weird sense that she was "on my side"; when I mentioned how much I wanted to help him have his own space, she would jump in with "how does that make you feel, G? Can you see how much love she has for you?", or when it came up that I wanted us to have more time to talk together "see how much your wife wants to talk to you, she loves you so much.". It was...weird. But overall, G told me he found it helpful to talk to someone, and was fine with going back, so we went. I felt hopeful again, that maybe this would bring us closer together, get us back on track.
I mentioned that the second couples session was where it really broke down. Basically G got stuck on some minutiae, as he tends to do, and she never redirected the conversation to the more general, underlying problem (which was NOT about having time to fix the drywall holes in the bathroom, or our individual standards for clean kitchen counters). And again, I got that weird "on my side" sense, and a bit of "putting words in my mouth". "Oh, you must feel so hurt when he re-cleans the kitchen after you've already cleaned it". No, hurt isn't the word I would use. Annoyed and stabby? That's a different feeling. Anyways, we both left feeling awkward, annoyed, and further off track than ever before. Neither of us was eager to go back 5 days later at our next appointment.
So I called her to cancel that appointment, wanting to leave a message, but she picked up. I told her we were really busy, and would need to get back to her. She started talking about the session, asking how we felt afterwards, and I admitted we found it frustrating and unhelpful. She was all "Yes, I don't remember exactly the session, but I probably could've done something differently. You learn as you work with a couple, and every couple is different, so some sessions don't go so smoothly". The gist was that she realized she didn't do her job that well, but would try harder next time?
G and I talked that evening and made the final decision not to return, but I haven't called her yet...
OK, this got longer than I'd planned. There will be a separate post on how things are going with G & I, and what we are trying to do to work on our marriage.