Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marriage counseling part 2

So, I promised a few of you that I'd tell you what marriage counseling is like as Matt and I go through it. I was always so curious about what a counselor really did for people, so I was planning on trying to explain what it's like to those who are considering it or who just wonder what it's like. I have always wondered what going to counseling with Matt would be like. Is it like the psychologist in Sopranos? Is it stuff you "already know"? Is it embarassing? Is it possible to accurately portray yourselves to someone who doesn't know you? And most importantly: does it help?

I won't give the details for the sake of all involved (I promise babe...I'll reign it in!). But if you're basically curious about what goes down, I'll spill. So far: an analysis of sorts. We filled out gobs of paperwork detailing any prior health problems, any prior mental health problems (if she only knew!) and any other symptoms we have. "Check any and all things you have struggled with in the past few months from the list below: fatigue, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleeplessness, feelings of worthlessness" etc. Of course, as we sat in the waiting room, we had to giggle about the options listed ("should we check 'sexual dysfunction'? you check it. No you check it. haha." We're dorks) and add a few of our own (Matt wanted to write in things like "fear of spouse trying to pop your zits in public" etc).

Then, we went in. She had a desk in a corner with a swivel chair and then there were these two armchairs facing each other in the middle (it was a tiny office though, so she was only a few feet away). Then she asked a few things and wanted us each to give individual responses. Like, why are you here? Why now? What made you finally get counseling? Then she asked us to give an example of a common argument we have and what it looks like at the begining, middle, and end. I fumbled on this because our arguments are always so hard to pin down on what actually started the problem, so I all of a sudden couldn't think of any great examples. We ended up giving an example that I thought was not the most "typical" of our fights. It was a little different than our normal ones, and I forgot some details. That was frustrating. I told Matt he got a "freeby" that time because I came out looking kinda crazy in that example. Oh well, right?

She asked how we usually end fights and we talked about how we each react to the typical disagreement. She asked about the families we grew up in and how we think they affected us. Then she wanted the opposite person to comment on what we thought of the other person's family.

At the end she said that we'd each meet with her individually once and then we'd come back together in a few weeks. I think Matt wanted to throw up on his shoes because the idea of having to talk to her alone for an entire session made him nervous. I, of course, could jabber on forever, so this is not a problem (surprised?).

Downfalls? Well, I was nervous, and when I'm nervous I make jokes and just generally laugh a lot, so I think I might have come across as not taking the whole thing very seriously. Imagine Chandler from Friends in a counselor's office. Also, in an attempt to make sure that she helps me figure out my problems (I really want to take responsibility for my side of our struggles) I think I poured out every bad trait I have a little too quickly. By the end, she might have been thinking "poor guy...this chick's crazy!"

Afterwards, Matt had a little bit of time left before he had to go back to work, so we went to lunch (the kids were at school). This should have felt like a luxurious date for us because we are so rarely alone when we are out of the house, but instead I was so left-over nervous from the hour at the counselor's that I ordered this giant buffalo chicken sandwich and downed it really fast. My stomach still hurts.

Anyway, week one is over. We'll see!

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