Monday, September 6, 2010
"Um, no, why?"
"Because it's important and people need to hear it."
...or something very close to that was the conversation I had with Morgan on Saturday after coffee.
We had been talking about relationships and I was talking about something I feel is very critical to the health of a relationship. The work that you put into it and the care you take of it and what for me is one of the most critical ways a person can do that. Where I get hung up in telling others about what I feel is so critical for the health of a relationship, is that I feel I'm not worthy to speak to it. I feel I have less credibility because I haven't been married and the only relationship where I thought I might be, I was told by the guy's 7 year old that he was marrying someone else (someone he could save).
I can't speak from experience and say, this has worked for me. I have no concrete examples. These are just my opinions and what I feel is critical to my future marital happiness. Considering I am not now, and haven't been dating anyone in the last 6 months (aside from my dating God project), my future marital happiness is probably a distant reality/concern.
Now, I have been inside many marriages as a nanny and a counselor, so I have seen some really good and some really bad relationships up close and personal. I also have a few years of study in Psychology, Anthropology & Sociology (a.k.a. Behavioral Sciences) and my B.A. that started these thoughts rolling. Which, I guess, is all to say that I haven't just pulled them out of thin air... yet I still doubt my ability to offer this advice to anyone other than myself and whomever I end up marrying as something I want to do. That this is something I feel is necessary to make a part of our relationship for it's health and sustainability.
It's one word that some people find very off putting.
Honestly, I think everyone should be in counseling to some degree, but especially before you get married and then while you are married.
I think there is a great benefit to premarital counseling but I think that there is just as much (if not more) value to counseling post-"I do." It is just my opinion, but in the first few years I think you should be meeting with your counselor about quarterly just to have someone there to help clear the air and guide the hard conversations. Merging two lives isn't easy and a lot of times I have seen people brush little stuff aside which isn't all bad, but can also cause all that little stuff to build up until it does become a big problem. Having a trusted person there to help guide the conversation and help the two people work through things can only make the relationship stronger as far as I am concerned. After a few years you could probably go in twice a year instead of quarterly because by then your communication skills should be stronger and eventually I think you just go in once a year as a yearly check up type thing to make sure the relationship stays healthy.
If a problem arises anywhere along the life of the relationship you can go in more often as needed but because you have been going all along this increase would feel more natural and would hopefully not be as intimidating as if you had never been and suddenly decided to go as a last ditch effort. You would have years of built up trust in your counselor and hopefully the tools to help you work through things when they were still relatively minor issues instead of huge overwhelming messes that no one wanted to acknowledge.
I don't understand why so many people view counseling as a bad thing. To me, and okay I am a little biased considering my background, it is just like going in for your yearly physical. When you have a baby, you go in lots for "well baby" visits. The baby grows so much in the first few weeks, months & years that you have to go in often to keep an eye on the development and try to catch possible problems or complications before they are major health complications. As the child grows, the space between appointments does too until it is just a yearly check up. To me, a marriage is much like a new life... why wouldn't you do everything possible to protect it and make sure it develops in a healthy way?
So many people wait until it is almost too late to get help. They let things build up and build up until they are one step away from walking out before they decide to seek help. At that point they have so little time to effect real change because it is almost too little too late to make a difference. The last straw is likely to come before any real healing has begun and it is because they waited too long to seek help for what was ailing the relationship.
I don't want that for my future. I don't want my relationship to die of a preventable problem simply because I refused to get help in time. I want lost of date nights, plenty of alone time and yearly check ups with a counselor to grow a healthy relationship instead of the common belief that after "I do" it will all just magically happen and fall into place. I don't want a relationship where I focus on growing the family while my husband focuses on providing the family and we never focus on each other because over time we would grow apart. I feel that you should put as much effort and care into your relationship as you do into work. It shouldn't be hard work or a chore, but it will take time and effort and hopefully whomever I am with will want (as much as I do) to put that effort in to growing a really great relationship.