At my own recommendation, my husband started seeing a therapist to help him deal with a trauma he had experienced as a child. It was decided that after a few one-on-one sessions that we would have a couple’s therapy session to discuss how I could best support him moving forward. I had no idea that hour would put our marriage in jeopardy.
- I was freezing, which didn’t help. I’m a cold person—I’m pretty much freezing all the time, even in summer. When my husband and I sat down on the therapist’s couch, I folded my arms to bundle up like I always do. The therapist immediately asked me why I was crossing my arms and closing myself off from my husband. This misinterpretation of my body language started us off on a weird note.
- I felt like a third wheel. Joining into the session after my husband had been seeing his therapist for a few weeks actually made things surprisingly difficult. A bond and trust between them had already formed. No matter how understanding I tried to be, I couldn’t help but feel his therapist was treating me as if I didn’t know my own husband when she talked about his past and questioned how I’d be able to support him. I’d never been a jealous person or anything, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake feeling like an outsider.
- The therapist had her own agenda. My husband had done his homework and selected a therapist specializing in childhood trauma. His one-on-one sessions with her were extremely helpful. What we both found out later is that she also specialized in helping couples have open relationships, as well as sex therapy for couples. Throughout the session, she led the conversation toward our sex life and relationship. We never discussed his trauma.
- The fixation on our sex life created problems. The therapist asked us a series of questions about our sex life and marriage. For instance, “Who likes to have romantic sex better?” and “Who enjoys kissing the other person more?” I became saddened if my husband said he thought I liked something better than he did because many of the questions were about the basis of our marriage. What was the point of speculating who liked what better? Why was I the only one in the room weirded out by this?
- I lost trust in my husband. After seven years of being together, I lost trust for the first time. I didn’t understand why we were suddenly in a sex therapy session and why he wasn’t reacting strangely to the direction of the conversation. I suddenly grew skeptical about what my husband was really there for.
- I questioned our commitment. The therapist posed a hypothetical question: “Would you be willing to let him/her have a relationship outside of the marriage if it were what they really wanted?” When I said I wouldn’t like that, she said it showed I wasn’t willing to do what it takes to make him happy. When he said he wasn’t sure but he would be willing to talk about it, my heart broke. Is this what he wanted?
- Suddenly our whole marriage seemed like a lie. Why wasn’t my husband freaking out? Why was he being so chill about talks of an open marriage out of the blue? Was this planned? Does he want that? My whole world felt like it was falling apart. I felt like I didn’t even know who my husband really was and it was all completely unexpected. Before the session, I had the perfect marriage. Was it all a lie?
- We had a great relationship… or so I thought. When my husband told me about his trauma, our relationship grew even closer. We’ve never had communication problems in our relationship. No matter what happened in our lives, we got through it easily because we were a team and we supported one another 100%. Our sex life was adventurous and on point, and we were very open about our fantasies. After the session, however, I felt so alone. I now know it’s widely accepted that couples therapy should generally be a last resort before divorce because it can create many unnecessary issues for healthy relationships.
- I straight up didn’t like the therapist. I knew the therapist had helped my husband so much already, so I automatically liked her going into the session. It didn’t take long for me to feel like she was a wannabe Sue Johansen pushing her values onto our marriage. I immediately felt judged by her, and it progressed throughout our entire session. I know for many people, couples therapy can be a huge help. However, if we planned to have a real couples therapy session, it would be extremely important that we both like the therapist. I definitely didn’t.
- My husband ended up feeling like he’d been brainwashed. After the session, my husband said he felt like the trust he had built in his therapist during a vulnerable time made him confused about his own opinions during our session. She had helped him so much individually. When she asked us questions about our marriage, he trusted there was good reasoning for the answers she wanted us to give. For months, he was really down on himself and felt weak for being so impacted by the opinions of his therapist.
It took almost a year for us to fully overcome the issues created and to build back the trust we always had. I feel lucky every day that I have the loving, committed husband that I do. As my husband and I discussed prior to the session, if either of us is going to be sleeping with someone outside of our marriage, we’re going to do it together.