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My Married Life: Counseling for a Marriage That's Already Good

There's a great article in The New York Times Magazine recently about Elizabeth Weil and Daniel Duane, a couple in a happy marriage who decided to try a bunch of types of marriage counseling to see if they could make their marriage even better. Weil, a freelance writer who penned the article, said she realized that although she'd applied herself to nearly every other area of her life (career, kids, etc.) she had been "laissez-faire" about her marriage in the past.

After deciding to throw herself into its improvement, Weil was able to get her husband (also a writer) on board, though not before he expressed a few misgivings. "If you’re going to poke around the bushes, you’d best be prepared to scare out some snakes," he warned.

Through her research, Weil found that, unlike her husband and her, most couples are unhappy for six years before seeking counseling -- in other words, way, way too late. Which sort of explains why marriage counseling has a stigma that if you're here, your marriage is already toast.

Weil also found that even some therapists seem down on the industry. Quoting William J. Doherty, a psychologist and the director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota, “If you talk to a therapist in the United States about problems in your marriage, I believe that you stand a good risk of harming your marriage.”


Jack and I have discussed going to therapy before, but we've never pulled the trigger. Both of us see our marraige as just another area of our lives that we want to constantly improve -- and every so often we come up against an issue where we've both run out of fresh ideas and can't seem to solve on our own. Then one of us will say, "Maybe this is something we should try to get therapy for." And the other will say, "Yeah, I guess you're right." Then, nothing.

Why haven't we (okay, let’s face it -- I'm the one who makes the appointments) booked a single session? I think it might be the stigma. Like, if we actually went to counseling, it would be official: We'd be people with Serious Marital Problems. I know, it's redic. It's like thinking only crazy people go to therapy or only dying people go to doctors. But I'm just digging deep and trying to be brutally honest.

Who out there has gone to therapy? Did it harm or help?

-- Holly

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