Counselor Blames Me!

About a year and a half ago, my husband finally took the intiative to make arrangments for us to attend counseling. I told him I had done everything I was going to do and that I was through with always being the intiator in trying to seek a solution.

We were to meet at the counselor's office after work for our appointment and my husband had given me directions to the office. Our appointment was at 4:00 and about 3:50, I was having trouble finding the right building based on the directions he gave me, so I called his cell phone to ask for help. He did not answer, so I kept driving around and trying to call him. After about 10 more minutes of driving around and searching, I found the location. I saw his vehicle parked there and he had already gone into the waiting room. I walked in about two minutes after 4:00. When I walked in, I asked him why he didn't answer his cell phone and he replied that he left it in his car because it was rude to bring it in. I explained to him that I was lost and tryng to call him. I know him well enough to know that he was trying to prove to the counselor that he was the better one of the two of us by being on time and having to sit there waiting on me. This whole seemingly insignificant incident was very telling in how he views himself as the more responsible and better person of the two of us.

So we are finally in the counselor's office and he asked us to tell him why we are there. My husband is slumped over in the corner of the sofa we are sitting on and he tells him that we are there because he loves me and wants to save our marriage,etc...etc...that he would never wnat to do anything that hurts me. Then it is my turn and I tell him that we have hav enot had any sexual intimacy for the last four + years and that it is taking a huge toll on me and the marriage. He asks me how I perceive that it is affecting my husband and I tell him I don't know because he will not talk to me about it and punishes me with days of silence if I bring it up. We continue to talk and my husband tells him how much he loves me and how much he wants to find a solution.

The counselor starts talking about how thinks this could be related to low testosterone and wants my husband to see a doctor as the first step. I speak up and tell him that we have been down that path and his test results always show that he has borderline low testosterone and he has been prescribed testosterone patches and creams, etc. which have never resulted in any increase in his libido. The counselor seems to ignore what I have just said and goes on to talk about how many men suffer from low testosterone and miraculously improve with treatment. Needless to say, I did not feel too hopeful about going down this path again. It is like my husband immedilately feels vindicated and justified with our sexlessness if someone suggests a medical reason for it...because in his mind that makes it something outside of his control. The counselor tells us that he would like to see us separately for a few sessions and then bring us back together. We agree to that.

During my session, I talk about my experience and feelings about the marriage. And then the counselor asks me if I've ever considered that my H might be intimidated by me...that I appear youthful and vibrant and am more articulate than him. He points our that my H seems much older than me and is socially awkward. From his continured observations, it sounds like he sees my H as a vicitim...which is exactly how my H sees himself. Yet he is the one who controls me. The silence and pouting and withdrawal for doing or bringing up anything that makes him feel confronted or criticized kept me from doing those very things for the last decade. I tried to explain to the counselor this dynamic, but I did not feel heard or understood. It was a very disappointing experience to say the least.

It wasn't long after this that I found my own solution in the form of an affair. And that is another story that I will share later.

changing2012 changing2012
46-50, F
8 Responses Mar 3, 2012

I came across your story after you received all the aforementioned comments.<br />
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Since I too went to a marriage counselor aka, social worker, approximately 3 years ago, the comments you received here has reminded me of my own sessions. Prior to marriage counseling, I had, and still receive, individual therapy. The focus in on oneself in that setting, one to one with the therapist. In marriage counseling there were three of us in the room, the counselor, me and my husband. I remember feeling "attacked", very much as you did and was told that I was intimidating my husband by putting demands on him regarding sexual intimacy. My husband sat quiet and the counselor spoke for him ... it was quite ridiculous since my husband is also a quiet controller and through his tactics I had been mentally and emotionally abused for years. There was no counseling in that room, only more despair, sadness and anger. We were told that we were a "Love Story" .. duh I don't think so ... and that we should go off and have a "picnic" instead of coming to counseling, to reconnect. Ouch .... a very expensive lesson that I won't soon repeat ... I too found comfort and companionship in an affair, and I don't regret my decision. I can relate and I can remember what it felt like to be seen as an attacker when I was a victim.

maybe the MC has similar issues and you brougth them to a head, i am sure they are no immune to this

Both yours and changing2012's stories really resonate with me except for the affair part. I always thought I had a great marriage and my husband and I were best friends for 17 years. After the sex dwindled to less than once a year, though, I was really missing that aspect of our relationship. The stress of kids and two hectic careers put so much distance between us I finally pushed him to go to counseling. He agreed only if he could choose the counselor and insisted it be a male therapist. After several sessions now, I find this counselor is completely focused on my dysfunctional childhood and my relationship with my alcoholic mother, and not on our issues/differences as a couple. Having spent numerous years in therapy on my own to deal with my childhood issues, I've already worked through most of this baggage and don't feel it has much effect on my current relationships. I don't have any unresolved anger, I now accept my parents with all their flaws and love them regardless of our troubled past. I now know they were incapable of being good parents so it makes no sense to be angry and resentful at something out of their control. I've worked very hard to forge an entirely different family dynamic than the one I had growing up and feel I've succeeded at that. To hear this counselor single me out and basically blame all of our problems as a couple on me is insulting and hurtful. Basically he's said that I am self-absorbed, talk too much and never listen, try to control and manipulate my husband, and thus I am the cause of all of our problems. My husband thinks he's great and that we're making progress which baffles me because my view is the complete opposite. When I began to cry as a result of something my husband said in our last session, I was reacting to his judgemental statement of me, yet the counselor insisted I was only crying because of a past hurt inflicted on me by my mother. When I expressed frustration at this and tried to shift focus to the real reason for my tears (my husband), the counselor refused to listen and instead berated me for questioning him. I now regret going to counseling and I'm doubtful that we will ever enjoy our close and romantic relationship again. This therapy is doing more damage to our relationship than I ever thought possible. It is expensive and we can barely afford it, but my frugal husband thinks it's working so he's willing to keep paying for this. My life feels pretty surreal right now and I have no idea what the future holds.

Sdeno,<br />
All I can say is yuck! I have had several bad experiences with counselors. The BEST ones went like this my wife starts and no matter how good or bad things have been going she brings her list. She write down everything I have done to bother her in the past week, month whatever. This does not bother me but if I brought a list she would throw a fit. So she talks about her list and how awful each of the offenses made her feel. then she throws in a few positive comments but the whole proces takes 20 to 25 minutes of an hour session. I have my say for five minutes and then the counselor talks about what he wants us to do for the remainder of the session. That is the GOOD appointments.<br />
In the bad ones we are told we don't have any major problems just communication issues. One time we wnet to a new counselor because my personal counselor met my wife once and she had a major meltdown right in the office. My counselor told me she was sure my wife had some type of personality diorder and it was a major problem. After discussin it with her staff they thought she had a borderline personality. My wife found out about this (how she found out is another story in itself) and hit the roof. we see this new conselor and I told him why I thought she met the definition of a borderline or at least came close to meeting it. After listening to me for a while he told me he wasn' into labeling people but only to help them change their behavior (or something like that). I told him that was fine with me if it would help make our life more functional. He then took a book off of his shelf and proceeded the read the list of symptoms of a borderline personality. Even though I had described he exhibiting several of the behaviors on the list he close the book, put it back on the shelf and said "that takes care of that". I was amazed at how he totally blew off the fact that my wife might have this disorder. <br />
At another session with the same person I wnated to talk first for a change and ttold himm how my wife had locked ehrslf in the bathroom for 20 min and was sreaming and crying hysetrically. I almost called the paramedics and probably should have. It was awful and ouor buys ahd to see it. They were something like 10 and 14 at the time. No sooner than I tell him about this incident and my wife cuts in and complains that i always get to start (not true) asnd that SHE wanted to go first this time. She went on with her list of things I did that bothered her and we never got back to the issues I brought up!!<br />
Of course my wife refuse to let me bring up our sex lives so that wasn't even a factor and it should have been.<br />
So I understand how bad counseling can be.

Sounds like your wife, rather than the MC was in charge of your sessions. The MC unwillingness or inability to be in charge so that you as well as she got to plead your case. Off hand, I'd say you incountered an inexperienced MC or one that was just incompitent. Did you ever get resolution ?

No the person we saw was very experienced and came highly recommended. We never resolved anything. I finally had to research my wife's illness on my own and found ot that if she wasn't a borderline personality she was close enoough it doesn't matter.

I gather that the counselling story is about 18 months ago, and that since then you've been on the "stay and cheat" method of coping.<br />
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Look forward to hearing how that is going.<br />
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Tread your own path.

"Stay and cheat" is my current method of coping. It sin't the most honorable way of dealing with the siituation. It would hurt others if they knew. On the other hand, divorce would hurt a lot more. I just needed some relief from the void...myabe it's like an antipressant...and I know that one day the side effects may become more than I can bear or the effectiveness will wear off. Until then, it is my current drug of choice.

I figure this is a secret from your spouse ?? Got an exit strategy for if he finds out and acts pre-emptively ??

You may be right about the counselor or, you may be misinterpreting what he says. From reading your story and comments, I get the impression that you are angry and parinoid. No offence intended. But, reread your story and comments and look at them as an outsider, ob<x>jectively. When we're hurt we often become defensive. You might try a female counselor. It would be interesting to compare what they say to you and how you perceive it. But, to be honest, it sounds like you've already given up on the marriage and are looking for a blame free way out. And, of course, I could be wrong.

IAngry, yes I am. Paranoid, not at all. As Ilook backover the entire sexless experience, it has been much like the grieving process...iti is a huge loss,but no one brings casseroles or sends is a lonely and solitary processl. I spent a lot of time in shock and denial, tp anger, then depression and sadness,then back to anger,etc. Just like grieving any loss...I have not reached the stage of accpetance other than a few fleeting moments. I want to forgive and let go...I know I need to and just as I will when I am ready. When will I be ready? Idk, but I will let go when I am ready to let go.

Your last sentence says it all. And, when you do let it go, the anger will go with it. How long do you want to stay angry ?

well..i don't know what to say here.. but it sounds like the counselor is criticising you for speaking up.. and saying your too intimidating..well..what are you supposed to do?..And most likely she did not appreciate you speaking up and volunteering your information concerning the again, your a problem..<br />
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To be honest, i think the counselor is also intimidated by know too much..and so your going to have a problem with this..What ever you do, your going to be the one blamed..If you don't go back for counseling..well your the problem,,if you do go..well your just going to be your pick.....simply do what works for you...and make that decision at the last moment...

It does not matter what the actuality of any given situation is, if a counsellor is asked to bring together two people and hear them and fails to do that, he is an obstacle to any outcome, no matter what that outcome is.<br />
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If you feel that you are being dragged to counselling against your will and your better judgement and are confident in that view, then simply stop; do not go. Simply tell your husband that you will not go that it will not change anything and that it is time and money wasted. There is no obligation on you go through the machinations of counselling through some pointless perception that the situation demands or warrants it. Your husband may be disappointed, but you have been disappointed for a very long time and simply have no FAITH in him. Consider the literal meaning of the word "faith", it is important. Sometimes it is valid to look at something that is broken and think "Well, it COULD be fixed, but might just not be worth the time and expense".

I wonder kaycie, if we switched the gender in our scenarios, if the counselor would have reacted differently. I am not in any way insinuating that it is less painful for a man living in a sexless marriage, but I do believe that the reverse is incomprehensible to many.

I understand your frustration completely. You brought back vivid memories at my own attempt at getting marriage counseling with my H. I didn't feel heard at all and everything got turned around to make him seem like the victim. <br />
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In my case seeing how he portrayed me to the counselor (who totally bought in to his skewed "reality") was the final nail in the coffin of our marriage. I knew at that point that leaving is my only option if I ever wanted to be happy and feel good about myself again.<br />
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I'm working on the exit plan and waiting for the right timing but marriage counseling brought the final clarity I needed to stop wondering if I should leave or not.

marriage counselors are trained and certified that they be impartial in their dealings with a couple. Some people, when they are told things they don't agree with, tend to blame the counselor rather than examine why they are being told that. But, if you truely want to save the relationship but don't trust the counselor, do what you would do if a medical doctor gave you a diagnosis that you didn't like: get a second opinion from a counselor of your own choosing. If she tells you essentially the same thing, you have to accept either what they say or admit that you just want out.