Was my pre-marital counseling session typical?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Em_Catz, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    So the fiance and I were recommended a pre-marital counselor by a friend. Unfortunately that counselor was booked solid, so we were offered another counselor that works under the recommended one.

    It was one of the worse experiences of my life. I'm wondering if my experience is typical. Here are some of the highlights -

    1. He asked us about past relationships. I mentioned my ex-fiance and how he used to physically, verbally and emotionally abuse me. I spoke in detail about the abuse, then I turned confessed to my current fiance that my old one used to enjoy talking over my head and making me feel stupid, which is why when he (current fiance) and a friend started talking about a topic I knew little about and didn't include me, i got upset.

    My fiance took my hand and apologized and said he knew I was upset during that time, but he didn't know why. He apologized again and said now that he knew, he wouldn't do that again.

    The counselor listened and said, "Wow, you talk about your ex A LOT." Then he turned to my fiance, "So how does it feel to hear your future wife say another man's name over and over?" :eek:


    2. He wanted to know if we were keeping any secrets from each other, ANYTHING (he seemed irritated when we said no, that we talk about everything.) He asked if my fiance knew about my past abuse with my ex, and fiance said yes and added on a detail I hadn't mentioned. The counselor seemed annoyed

    3. He wanted a detailed description of our sex life, including how often we had sex, how much sex I expected, what we like to do, what positions, etc.

    4. When I mentioned I have anxiety and worry a lot, he POUNCED. Started asking me if I have a family history of mental illness, was my mom anxious (i said no), was my mom depressed (i said maybe, i wasn't sure), then he went on about how mental illness runs in families and could be passed to our children. Then he asked my fiance if he knew about my "mental illness". The counselor seemed again annoyed/irritated that, A. my fiance already knew about my anxiety. B. my fiance accepts my anxiety as a part of me.

    5. He asked, "what person most fullfills you in your life?" We both said each other. He POUNCED again and said that only God should fullfill us. I was confused and said, "Wait, you said person. I didn't know God was an option. When you said person, I thought you meant a person like you or me. I consider God a spirit."

    And he started arguing with me that God is a PERSON and throwing scriptures and saying we are selfish to think a mere mortal can fullfill us.

    6. Finally, after about an hour, I shut down. I stopped speaking, making eye contact or being responsive. The counselor took that opportunity to antagonize me.

    He was like, "Catz you're not talking anymore. Why? Is this too hard for you? Are you getting upset? Why? I am just giving you Scripture. Do you need to stop? It's too hard for you? Why does the word of God upset you?"

    I said, "This entire conversation has me upset and flustered." He said, "What part?" I said: "The entire thing. The sex stuff. The stuff about my ex. I feel awkward and uncomfortable." He was silent for several moments. Then I said, "We can finish. It's fine. Whatever."


    When we were leaving, I think the counselor knew he had been a d**k because he started trying to make friendly conversation with me. (ie: Where do you teach? What grade? Oh wow! My son used to go to that school! do you like it there?")

    I gave him one word answers, then we left feeling emotionally drained and violated. I spoke with the head counselor a few days later who apologized and said that he (the head counselor) would talk to the other counselor and would we give him (the counselor we went to) a second chance. He said if we weren't satisfied, he (the head counselor) would be our counselor.

    I spoke with my fiance and at this point, he said he wants to decline because he felt like we went in with open hearts and were stabbed in them. He said he doesn't want to risk putting me through that again.

    He also said he worries about me as a Christian because one of the first things I said when we left the center was, "If THAT"S how Christianity was presented to <an old friend of mine> when she was growing up, I understand how she was able to turn her back on the church and become an Atheist."

    I don't know if I should convince fiance to give them another shot or to just look elsewhere. :help:
     
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  3. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I get the point of most of the questions the counselor was asking. I don't understand all of his responses. It sounds like he raked you over the coals pretty well. I don't think I'd be willing to go back. Unless the was a Christian counselor, from my church, I think I'd be very upset about the comments made about God. It was like he was trying to push his views of religion onto you.

    I also think that he was trying to be very thought provoking, trying to make your fiance think about what life would be like with you.

    Did he do some of the same things to your fiance?

    Off topic, kinda, DH & I were talking yesterday about how much my backside looks like my mother's! It had been mentioned years ago, by my father, how much my mom & I look alike from the back. We were even talking about how much my personality, as I get older, in some ways is becoming more like my mother's. Could that have been where the counselor was going with the mental illness? BTW, we also talked about how much DH is like his father!
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Some churches have premarital sessions with actual married couples as the mentors...makes so much sense!

    You were not treated in a loving and welcoming way. I WOULD NOT be giving the counselor a second chance.
     
  5. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Yours was nothing like our premarital counseling sessions! We talked more about long-term expectations, thoughts on children and money and what our personal/couple goals were.

    I know you are much younger than I am, but I would have walked out at about question two or three.
     
  6. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Not really...it seemed like most of his focus was on me. I think the fiance didn't give him enough "juicy" stuff to latch onto. For instance, when fiance mentioned his past relationships, he didn't go into much detail. He was just like, "My ex-girlfriend and I got along well, but she didn't touch my heart. I didn't feel like she was my best friend that I could speak to about anything like I do with Catz. With Catz, I can tell her anything and she listens."

    The counselor would respond and say something like, "Couldn't you find that with anyone?" And fiance would say, "No. I dated several girls, and Catz was the first."

    OMG, that is EXACTLY what I expected of counseling. Guidance, NOT being rebuked and chastised. I regret not getting up and leaving. I guess because I had no idea what pre-marital counseling was like, I allowed myself to be sit there being abused.

    :lol: OMG, I am SO becoming my mother, for better and worse. I hear her in my voice when I talk to my students. Even my voice is beginning to sound like hers. When I answer the phone at my parents house, long time friends and family often mistake me for my mother.
     
  7. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Catz,

    There's times in the classroom that I think to myself, "I'm turning into my mother. That's exactly what she would have done." She was a stay at home Mom! It's bad enough that certain body parts are hers (my left thumb & ankles, not too mention my backside when I'm at my heaviest!)

    I agree with Missy, that's what would expect pre-marital counseling to be like. I just remember talking about the wedding service. Ours was with our Pastor.
     
  8. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I'd run from this guy. Do not go back!
     
  9. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Pre-marital counseling? Wow! That sounds like a winner!
    I think it is GREAT because y'all will know exactly what you are getting into! It should be recommended for those who plan to get married right away; without knowing anything about each other.
    Dang it! When we were dating, hubby use to cook, and after we got married that went down the drain. NOW! You hear on tv and radio about couples that share house chores, DON'T STAY MARRIED. For all the stuff they come up with now, I'd say, "Marriage is what you make it, and forget about going with so and so said this and that!":hugs:

    Rebel1
     
  10. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    We did not do premarital counseling at all, and would not have at a church if we would have. I would have left after the second rude thing said. I understand the "tough love" approach when used by a professional in certain situations, but not for premarital counseling.
     
  11. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Never ever go back there. A hundred years ago when we went to talk with our Catholic Priest before marriage, we mainly talked about religious beliefs and family things. The people who you talked to seem to have some obvious issues and should not be counseling at all!
     
  12. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    That was nothing like what my hubs and I experienced during our counseling sessions. It was required that we meet 3 times with the pastor at our church and we discussed our long term goals (our individual goals+our goals we had together), where we stood on issues like children, money, etc. My hubs and I had (and still have) a very open relationship where we do not hide anything from one another which sounds like you and your fiance. I would not go back to this counselor, but would insist on meeting with the head counselor.

    And I totally understand the turning into your mother issue, because I know there are things that are do that my mom would do...and my hubs has picked up on it and said things like..that's something your mom would have done. Maybe it's different because I no longer have my mom, but it makes me happy to hear him say that. Except when I'm getting frustrated because that was a big one with her! :)
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Was this counseling at a church? What were the counselor's qualifications to be counseling you?

    I am going to disagree with many folks here. I think that the counselor's approach and behavior was all wrong, but I think that he asked the right questions. Before you marry someone, I do think that it's important to address all the big stuff, which to me is money, sex, past relationships, mental illness (if there's a chance of that....It's one of those things that can destroy a marriage if you don't understand it or if it is untreated), children, and expectations.
     
  14. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I agree, Caesar--the topics are ones that should be discussed, but his approach was horrible. Maybe the head counselor there would help you consider the same issues but in a much more appropriate manner.
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    SOUNDS AS THOUGH HE SHOULDN'T BE "COUNSELING" ANYONE!

    He sounds like a complete ****. His responses were completely inappropriate. If a "perfect" couple saw him too many times, they just might end up questioning their decision. (Hmmm, does she really talk to much about her ex? Well, the counselor did ask. Maybe she should have said the past was the past? Hmmm...)

    And do you really need to discuss sexual positions?

    Do not go back. This is just unbelievable.
     
  16. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    I don't think he has any formal training because he introduced his credentials by saying that he had been married for 21 years, but he and his wife had dated several years before tying the knot. He also said that they have a 28 year old, a 25 year old, and two teenaged children. (Wait...married 20 years...but you have a 28 year old...could Mr. Perfect have possibly had a child out of wedlock? Or from another woman? :rolleyes:)

    That's one of the things I said to the head counselor when we spoke -- it wasn't so much the content (ie: I know that the Bible says you aren't supposed to have sex before marriage) but it was the WAY it was presented and the way he spoke down to us and chastised us as if we were naughty, worthless children.



    :yeahthat: Just over the phone, the head counselor said some of the same things, but it was in a MUCH more respectful tone. Even the question about who most fullfills you, the head counselor said, "That's meant to be a fun question, not a chance for you to be chastised or beat over the head with a Bible."

    I've talked to fiance several times and he still is leaning toward not going back unless I really REALLY REALLY want to go.
     
  17. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    The pre-marital counselling that I went through was less like counselling and more like a PD session, if that makes sense. It was run through a church, but the "counsellors" were an older married couple. It was run over a weekend and there were probably 15 couples there. We talked about techniques about being honest and working through problems. It was not individualized at all, and I liked that.

    Don't go back there. IMO, a counselor shouldn't make you feel bad.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Or his wife may have had children prior to them getting married. Or he may have been married had two children and his wife died. Or you are right, he may have had children out of wedlock or with someone prior to marrying his current wife. Building a more negative picture about him in your mind where there are other positive possibilities does nothing but build animosity over a fact you are just surmising about.

    I understand that it wasn't a good counseling session, but there are other possibilities that don't make him a bad guy in other ways.

    If the counseling isn't a good fit, don't go back to him. There is no reason to continue with this person if the session make you shut down (even if as Caesar said the topics are pertinent). I do suggest that you do continue have pre-marital counseling because there is a benefit. You will also end up seeing how sensitive you and your spouse is to certain subject matter. If seeing someone else who works with the both of you differently still brings up anxiety and frustration with similar subject matter, a pattern will emerge. If it doesn't you can then address issues that are important to marriage and move forward.

    I wish you luck in whatever you end up doing.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You should feel comfortable with a counselor. So comfortable, that you should feel that you could tell them just about anything. This was clearly not the case.
    I don't know much about pre-marital counseling, but even for me this sounds like a nightmare.
    Yes, they should address certain issues (past relationships, baggage, money, expectations) but not in a way that could provoke an argument. Thank God you and your fiance have a strong relationship, but what if this ended up in an argument, doubt, etc?
    I'd say run. I think if you talk to to the head counselor and continue your counseling there, you could also get some closure for this. Because if you are anything like me, you're probably uncomfortable, and upset, and want to talk to someone and then put it behind you. Talking to the head counselor and vent a little should make you feel better about this.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that sex is an important topic to discuss before getting married. I'm sure it would feel weird to discuss sexual habits and preferences in front of a stranger, especially a stranger like this guy who seemed rude and confrontational, but I don't think that the question is out of line. People who are not compatible sexually might struggle in their marriage because sex is a big part of marriage for most people. If you're with someone who wants to have sex 4 times per day and you'd prefer once every three months, that could be a problem. If you're with someone who prefers X and Y sexual activities but you'd prefer Z activity (and, moreover, X and Y activities are dealbreakers for you), that could be a problem. Without that dialog, you might not realize that there is the potential for sexual incompatibility until it's too late and you're already married.
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Just not personally acceptable to me.
     
  22. swansong1

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    That's what I would have expected from your session. Your counselor sounds a little "off".
     
  23. bubbles

    bubbles Rookie

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    That sounds very strange and quite frankly a bit creepy to me. Although I understand the point of some of the questions, I think that counselor was absolutely out of line. In my pre-marriage younger days I probably would have stayed like you did, but now I'd have no problem telling him those questions were unacceptable and walking out.

    My counseling was absolutely nothing like that, it was very tame. It included the preacher and his wife, a few questions about church, kids, jobs, and money but mostly just chit-chatting about our life over the past few years and what we expected in the future. Mine at the time seemed like wasted time to be honest, but it wasn't anything negative.
     
  24. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I can see where this would be a question that would be asked in a session like this; however, sexual preferences can change drastically within the marriage. And sometimes, this change can be a deal breaker in the marriage or at the least change the marriage in some way.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sure they can change; so can everything else, including views on children and money. I guess my point is you've got to start somewhere. If you can't talk about it before you're married, what's going to change once you're married?
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I can discuss such issues with my significant other. I will not, though, discuss such things in a pre-marital counseling session...especially with someone who doesn't seem qualified. It's one reason I take issue with church-mandated counseling. It hasn't been indicated that Em and her fiance can't discuss or aren't willing to discuss these major issues in the privacy of their own home.
     
  27. MissCeliaB

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    I feel like it's not something that shouldn't be discussed with other people. It's person between the people involved. They should be discussed privately. I would not feel comfortable having those discussions in front of another person, especially one as judgmental as that guy.
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I am sorry if I gave the impression that Em and her fiance aren't willing to discuss these things. All I meant to do was provide some support to my statement that I felt that the counselor's questions weren't out of line and that they are important questions to be asking and answering--either as part of a counseling program or privately as a couple.

    No one should do what they don't want to do. For me, in my marriage, sex is important. I wouldn't want to be with anyone who had bizarre sexual habits. For me, in my marriage, it's important to talk about those things. In my experience, from what my friends have told me, most couples also address that topic before getting married. I'm sure there are some who are uncomfortable talking about anything sexual, and that's fine if that's what they want their marriage to be.

    I believe that any sort of pre-marital counselor would be doing a disservice to any couple if he didn't bring up sex. Marriage isn't just about money and kids. Sex is a big part of it, and a major cause for divorce.
     
  29. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I agree. My friend who will be going to premarital counseling is actually looking forward to a way to talk about sex with her fiance. They have never discussed it before and when she tried to bring it up he said something like "men don't like to talk about sex". Or some weird thing to get out of the conversation. If someone chooses counseling I would assume it was because they want an open, honest space to talk about everything. Not that they wouldn't talk about it at home more, but to at least start the conversation.

    But, I also think if you feel uncomfortable with this counselor you should find someone new. Obviously you won't want to open up (which is the point of the counseling!) if you feel violated or intimidated. Plus now that you already have this view on him, I think you'll go in with a wall up, more guarded, if you try again.

    Find someone new!:thumb:
     
  30. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I agree with this...and I know people freely choose pre-marital counseling, but everyone I know who has done it were forced to by their church (in order to marry in the church). Certainly they could leave the church, but...ah, I just don't like it.
     
  31. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Caesar~I see where you were going with your post. And I do agree that that is important to talk about before getting married. I actually wished our pastor had gone into more questioning about the future, given this topic...but our responses would have probably been completely different than they are now.

    And I do agree that counseling shouldn't be forced on anyone, but it is a good way to see exactly where each person stands on different issues and how open and trusting they actually are.
     
  32. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I also think living together before marriage does that exact same thing. But that's not what this thread is about...
     
  33. Peachyness

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    This.

    JustMe, I'm with you. I would NEVER feel comfortable speaking to a person I didn't know at all about my sexual history. I get really uncomfortable when a doctor asks me certain questions.
     
  34. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    :yeahthat: I know everyone doesn't agree with living together before marriage, but for us, it works. Living with my now ex-fiance had A LOT to do with me discovering that he was an abusive. When we had separate places and things got heated, I could get in the car and drive back to my apt, or to my parents place. When we lived together, I was 12 hours from my parents and didn't have any friends in the area, so I'd go into the study and close the door to be alone and cool down...and he'd kick the door in and drag me out. :eek:

    If I hadn't lived with him first, I would have gotten married and moved across state and learned those lovely things, God forbide with a baby on my hip (he wanted me to get pregnant before we got married, as did his mother...I think she knew he was going to abuse me and wanted to "trap" me because I come from a well off family)

    But I digress. I think Caesar is right that these are important questions to ask, BUT it is a sensitive matter and needs to be handled as such. What I would have liked see happen is the questions be brought up and we be allowed to discuss them privately.

    For instance, he asked us our financial goals and fiance started to tell the counselor, but he put up a hand and said, "No, that's private, I don't want an answer now, but you and Catz should discuss on your own."

    Why couldn't the sex question have been "private" too? Him wanting us to discuss it in front of him seems creepy. It felt more like he was being nosy, than trying to help. I think it's reasonable to feel uncomfortable discussing the ins and outs of our sex life in a church office with a man old enough to be my father.

    My fiance and I have an open relationship (by which I mean we talk about EVERYTHING, including sex. We actually were pleasantly surprised and pleased to find we enjoy the same things)
     
  35. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    The "counselor" was an idiot and his questions were out of line. I would never go near the perv again and make it clear to his boss/supervisor how he behaved. AND if I had been in there with my wife to be things would have soon ended with that person feeling more uncomfortable than my spouse to be.
     
  36. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    UPDATE: My fiance and I sat down and talked about it in depth and decided against returning to counseling at that center. We've signed up for a pre-marital course run by a husband and wife team and is given in an informal group setting.

    Thank you everyone for your input, advice and support :hugs:
     
  37. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Sounds good! I hope this course is a better fit for you two!:cool:
     
  38. Ms. I

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    I wanted to read the OP (original post) when I had time to do it in one sitting.

    Man, oh man! What kind of bozo counselor is this?! I would have gotten up & left after the first time or two of him pouncing on you like he repeatedly did!...after giving him a little piece of my mind.

    So what exactly did that accomplish? He was horrendous! It's as if he wanted to make sure he got whoever the next female to come in his office really good as payback or something.
     
  39. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    That's a great point. I didn't mention this earlier because I was so focused on what happened IN his office, I forgot to mention what happened right before.

    I had to use the ladies room, which is right across from the pastor's office. When I went in, there was a woman standing and staring at herself in the bathroom mirror and sniffling like she'd been crying.

    She jumped and said a quick "Hello" to me, then started throwing water on her face.

    Looking back, I'm wondering if she had just come out of counseling with the same person. Maybe this guy has an issue with women. Maybe he is having problems with his wife and/or daughters (who are close to my age) so he's mad at all females right now.

    WHATEVER his problem, he isn't OUR (me and fiance's) problem anymore. I hope he gets the help he so obviously needs
     
  40. Ms. I

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    Jan 26, 2013

    Yes, Em, this so-called "counselor" is a complete & utter joke & seems to have problems/issues/a vendetta against women, so he uses this slight power of authority of being this counselor to try to be the big man.

    F him! :mad:
     
  41. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Jan 26, 2013

    I've been with my wife for 20 years. We've been married for 17 years.

    We never had any kind of marriage counseling whatsoever. Here's the thing. If you can talk out between the two of you all of the obvious things that a counselor will cover, then the marriage will work. If you can't talk out those things, then you have problems.

    In other words, you shouldn't need a counselor. That doesn't mean going to a counselor has doomed your marriage - i.e. people do a lot of things they don't need to do. I once started seeing a counselor for depression. She made me go to a class on how to deal with depression. I had absolutely nothing in common with the people in the class. One day I was on my way to the class and realized I probably wasn't depressed, but if I was, I'd be far less depressed if I didn't go to this stupid class. So I skipped it and went to Starbucks.

    Basically all you both need is a simple checklist.

    Are you on the same page with the direction you want your lives to go? In other words, if one of you dreams of a suburban life with kids in Long Island, and the other won't feel fulfilled until they have spent a year in Africa with the Peace Corps, then you might have a problem.

    Another way to look at it is do either of you have dreams, goals, or aspirations that are not compatible with the dreams, goals, and aspirations of the other.

    Same as above with kids.

    "Sexual history?" All that matters is that you both are honest and that everything is indeed history.

    The only area that you may ever need to see a professional counselor is money and retirement. But that's not a job for a pastor, that's a job for a qualified financial adviser. Probably one of the best things we ever did.
     

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