Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Goodby to the Brown Comfy Couch

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.


  1. I probably wouldn't return either. It sounds to me like she's distracted- probably by her own issues. Hopefully the little bit of open communication that you had during the sessions you did have will carry over into your daily lives. Marriage is just so tough, isn't it?

  2. She sounds so annoying! I don't think you have any obligation to tell her you're firing her. Just don't call her back.

    I hate it when my husband re-cleans the kitchen because it was already good enough, and he could be using that time to get other stuff done. Or to hang out with ME. We each have so little free time that even small inefficiencies drive me nuts. On the other hand, compulsively cleaning seems to relax my husband. Lately I've been kicking him out the door to go exercise, which seems to help.

    Glad things are going better on the G front!

  3. I think it is hard to find someone you like enough to have these kinds of personal conversations with! I'm amazed at how differently a conversation can go depending on which professional you're talking to. With my new therapist, I was just talking about K giving baby C formula, which I'd discussed with the old therapist. The old woman said emphatically "he has a right to do that. It's his child, too, and you need to let him make decisions." The new therapist said "of course you feel upset when he does that! That's totally understandable! Why do you think he does it?" Exact same issue, two totally different responses.

    It sounds like the few sessions you had did point you in the right direction, though. I am interested to hear how things are going for you guys in general, too.

  4. We at grumpy rumblings support your choice!

    She's probably a fine match for other couples. I know that what I value in a therapist is very different than what #2 values. What's good though is that she got you guys talking to each other more than you were before.

    Re: kitchen re-cleaning. I don't mind when DH does it. Mostly the kitchen is a constant work in progress so there's always something to be done in there, and the end goal is a clean kitchen, something I actually value, unlike a decluttered living room. (I think if it did bother me, I'd thank him for cleaning the kitchen but tell him what we really need to do instead is the bathrooms or whatever else it is that I wished he'd been working on instead.) I guess if I was a therapist I'd ask why the kitchen recleaning bothered you and then focus on whatever the real problem is (which could be something like, other parts of the house need it more, which is totally a solvable problem, or something indicating a lack of valuing the other person, which needs more communication.)

    I should really finish up that mostly finished post on the book Crucial Communication. It's an excellent read for anyone.

  5. Well screw you, therapist! Don't you realize how much energy it takes to get two people into a room like that, making time to work on their marriage! I'm pissed at her for wasting your time, but I'm still glad you went... I think surface stuff can be fixed quickly, so I'm hopeful that you guys will show us all how it's done.

  6. It's important to feel like you aren't wasting your time, so it sounds like you made the right decision. Gah - in some ways, finding the right therapist is like dating!