And Us and Them and We

Apparently, practically everyone has been in couples’ counseling. Not you, of course. Well, at least not all of you. Probably. In my old age (I just had a birthday and that was nice), I’m realizing that I give far fewer fucks than I used to about what people think. I’m also realizing that the last few years of personal and professional challenges have drained me deeply; I now have a small margin of self-restraint before I will tell people my business. It’s like my tire treads are worn out and I just sort of slide into the corners with a teenager’s confidence that it’ll all be okay.

I do have a fair amount of restraint at work, thank goodness. There it’s all black ice all the time and I haven’t gotten to the point where I don’t care if I spin out. Everywhere else I seem to be more than willing to say, “we’re in couples’ counseling, you know” I don’t ever say why. I don’t think it would make me feel better if I did. Once, Debra and I found out some distant acquaintances were in counseling and we spent some time speculating whether it was an affair, or drugs, or abuse. We shouldn’t have, of course, but we were young and didn’t understand that they were working hard to fix something rather than settling into contempt or giving up. Fifteen years of wrinkles, that much experience, and no shortage of humbling communication snafus later, and it seems obvious. 

I was talking with my stylist (this makes me sound more fancy than I am) and she said that it’s remarkable, really, that couples make it as long as they do. You can’t expect people to stay the same. They change and grow and they don’t always grow in alignment with one another. They don’t always grow at the same pace. Someone one veers off while the other races ahead. Someone sinks in while the other reinvents. Not every couple should stand fast. Sometimes they need to help each other along, even if along means out

So even though I’ve always thought that couples’ counseling was reserved for couples careening into a split, now I’m finding that many people I tell have ALSO been in couples’ counseling and that every single one of them is a happy person, fundamentally satisfied with life. I thought counseling was reserved for couples with deal breakers. I thought it was something to keep quiet. But I’m not in a deal breaker situation, I’m not in a situation at all, and it’s a relief to hear that others have been here and that it doesn’t have to be forever. It feels hopeful. 

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6 Responses

  1. It’s not a common opinion in the UK (I think it might be a bit more common in the USA) but I strongly believe that everyone should have counselling. Individually and/or together with important others in their lives. I’m glad you’re finding it hopeful.

  2. I thought therapy was what all the cool kids did.

  3. I kind of see couples counseling as a lesbian rite of passage. Like, “You got the toaster and now the LBD. Either get couples counseling or get a cat. It’s the next step in your dyke couplehood.”

  4. I 100% believe everyone should be in therapy and all couples should do it regularly. I credit couples counseling with helping us avoid ever having serious situations. I’m glad you’re benefiting from it!

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