How do I approach marriage counseling with my wife over very sensitive marriage and blended family issues? What do I say? How do I start conversation?
My wife and myself are getting ready to enter marriage counseling with our church family counselors. We are new in the area and we do not know this man and his wife who will be conducting the counseling session; they are experienced counselors from what I have been told. The issues deal with passionless and sexless marriage, or almost that way. She feels that she must direct all of her attention and energies at this point in time to her daughters, two are married and one is living out of state. We have been married for twenty years, there was not a good blend with the two oldest daughters and my sons. I have three sons and she has three daugters. The girls lost their father when the oldest was seven, alot of pain there. My wife has just recently began to be very cold toward me and my family, whom she was very close to for years. She told me some of her feelings about the need she had to give most of her time to her children and grand children, and also some emotions that she was experiencing, she is in menopause and she swings very much these days with her moods. She out of the blue told me the other night that I had trampled on her daughters and her for years and was tired of it, then an hour later wants to be nice, I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride and I need to get off. I love her very much, but I don't know what to do at this point. There are many other issues in twenty years that I do not have space and time to talk about, I just need to know how to deal with it.
I don't have any "magic" questions in mind, but I can give you a few recommendations:
First, I recommend that you and your wife discuss ahead of time what some of your goals are for the first session or two, as well as for counseling, in general. You might write these down and bring them with you to the meeting. Your counselors will either have a series of questions and activities for you to start with in the first session or they will ask a very general question like, "Tell us why you decided to come to counseling." You can let them know that you and your wife have discussed icounseling, and you have some goals. If you have difficulty agreeing on common goals, let them know that, and inform them what individual goals the two of you generated over the course of the discussion.
Second, I would encourage you remember that the counseling process will take some time. Most couples arrive for counseling expecting that their problems will be "fixed" in one or two sessions. You and your wife have been married for a very long time, and I imagine that you have had quite a few years in which you have been struggling before you decided to come to counseling (the average length of time between a couple's start to problems and deciding to enter therapy is about 7 years). It took years to develop these problems and reactions in your marriage, and they won't simply going to go away just because you spent an hour talking to someone.
Third, I know that you are tired, but motivated to save your marriage and return to the love and fondness that first brought the two of you together. Generate as much patience and understanding as you can entering this process because you are likely to hear many things from your wife throughout the process that will be painful and disappointing. Patience is important, but it is also critical that you communicate your wants and needs as well. You write with a great deal of care and compassion, and I am confident that you will be able to meet your wife half-way. However, I want to remind you to keep your needs in mind, as well.
I also included a link to an article on couple's counseling below to provide further orientation for the counseling process.
Best of luck to you.
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Well first of all I want to commend you for coming on here and telling us all the story. A lot of people want to shout at the other spouse and say its his or her fault. You on the other hand are showing that you truly are being objective about it. I think menopause may play a role but maybe even depression.
Sometimes when people are depressed they shut everyone out. I will tell you I had resentment towards my husband for a long time. Some of it was pain from my past though and really had nothing to do with him. He was just an easy target for me to take my frustrations out on. It is amazing what garbage people hold on to. All that garbage starts build up like a trash can that hasnt been dumped for days... Its time to take the trash out and clean it up! My best advice is take it to God. It does sound easier that what it actually is, but if you start on yourself and take all your garbage out, maybe she will too. Once I released all my resentment and pain, God blessed me with a new life. It will happen but its time to face the what a lot of people can't face and that is themselves. Good Luck ;)
I'm so sorry you're going through this painful time with your wife. It sounds like you've done a great job of identifying some of the possible causes for the change in your relationship and that now you're going to be taking action to help turn things back around. Congratulations on being so committed to making your marriage great again. Many people either give up without really trying or just settle for an unhappy life.
I just wanted to add a little advice about your upcoming counseling - you may need to work with more than one therapist or team of therapists before you find the right fit for you and your wife. The folks you're going to see may be great. But if they're not great for YOU, don't give up on counseling altogether. Try someone else until you find someone you think you can make progress with.
Good luck and I wish you and your wife all the best.
Seeking counseling is a great first step. Talk with your wife, in advice about the primary goals (choose 3-5) you want to accomplish. I would also express your concern to your wife about your physical issues and encourage her to see her physician for a check up.
Shirley Cress Dudley , MA LPC
Blended Family Coach
I have two sons and my wife has two daughters, so I can imagine some of the problems your are having. We've been together for 12 years so we have gone through similar issues.
I think going through menopause causes the mood swings your wife is having. Try to be as understanding as possible. It seems both of you have not talked about your feelings towards each other about the children. This is understandable as you try to avoid hurting each others feelings but not solving these problems in the past is firing back at you now. Have an honest conversation with your wife about how you feel about each other and about each others children or you will not be able to solve this without a break up.
Also help her solve her menopause problems in a natural and easy way this will be important at this moment to have a better atmosphere in your home immediately.