Marriage Counseling - Session 2Before I summarize what happened at our second session, I want to forewarn the reader that from a distance these issues might seem kind of petty, particularly in light of the bigger problems like lack of affection and sex. My goal here is only to share with the EP friends what happened, and what topic was covered.
"I am under stress and have no time for this, but I will go", he says.
So we went.
Point blank, I said, and the therapist agreed by the end of the session, that communication was our biggest problem. Just as last time, I find out more than I knew before about my husband.
The hot topic was that I think my husband is selfish. Especially when it comes to money (he is selfish with attention and affection, but in a one hour session we can only cover so much). My husband and I have only had separate accounts, even after our child was born, and I had the burden of supporting us both. Then I find out that my husband, as is the law in Germany, has to pay for his first child until she is 27 years old (yeah, my fellow Americans you heard that right - 27!), this whole time he already had a savings account for her from which he was withdrawing monthly. In other words, my assumption that he had to take from his own monthly business cash flow to cover her was incorrect. I thought the whole time that I was actually supporting his first child indirectly every month, by shouldering the burden of our baby girl by myself.
So now I surprised the therapist after she asked, "Engel, does this information change how you feel about your husband?" Instead of answering that I feel bad now for blaming him ba
I told her, "When I ask him for help, he grits his teeth and acts like I asked him to cut his finger off." He admitted, that there are so many things he is not used to having to help with. "In my first marriage, my wife never asked me to go to the kindergarten parents' night, or to help her put up lights, or mount a mirror on the wall. She had help from her mother and from others in her family, so she did not bother me with such things."
Yeah, and here I am in Germany, with no family or friends whatsoever. What the hell did he expect? Plus I am a foreigner. My German is pretty good, but not so great that I do not screw things up every now and then.
Of course she observed that he and I never communicated about money, and we seem not to know much about each other's habits and purchases. He bitched about my buying things off of Ebay and Amazon and I reminded him it was always clothes and toys and such for our baby girl or things for our home. (Here in Germany, if you can avoid tanking up your car to go shopping, it is always a good thing, because that trip to the shopping center will cost you 20 euros in petrol. And if you multiply that times all the trips you would need to make to go get something, you soon find out that not only have you lost time, but also gas money, just for shopping.)
On the other hand, I admitted to my own weakness here, that I shop often to self-soothe, even though what I buy is not for myself.
Then H had to tell the therapist what I do to help him, and his answer of course was business-focused, that I help with American legal and administrative issues, and that I rewrite all his correspondences to Americans before sending to ensure he does not alienate anybody (which Germans can easily do, please forgive the stereotyping). Strange - He did not mention the other things I do, like keep our home orderly and running smoothly. Does he not value those things too? He can tell the difference between what our home looks like now as opposed to how it looked when I was working.
Our homework is to think of three things we are thankful for each week, and tell each other what those things are. Value statements, she calls them. For instance, we should thank each other if the other does something thoughtful, or remind each other what we value in the other.
She says, "From a theoretical perspective, you both add value to each other and would make a good team, but if you do not communicate, the partnership does not function." Duh. But am hoping her stating that makes him see the truth.
Over all, I do not think we made much progress this week, but at least I can say a neutral third party might be able to motivate my husband to cooperate, merely by helping him see this situation through her eyes.