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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Our marriage is a disaster. is there any point in "couples"

Resolved Question:

our marriage is a disaster. is there any point in "couples" counseling if my wife has yet to resolve her personal issues from her past?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

If the counselors that you worked with felt that your wife had personal issues she needed to work on, then that might be the best option for your marriage.

The counselors must be seeing something with your wife that makes them feel she needs to be seen on her own. Your wife's past issues can cause her to view things in a skewed way. She may not have the skills to relate to you or to deal with her problems. Often, people who experience abuse or other trauma in their childhoods grow up to view their relationships in the way they were taught. So for example, if someone is physically abused they may be defensive with others. They view others as out to hurt them and willing to be in their space, like their abuser was. So they push others away and put up emotional walls to protect themselves. It worked well when they were being abused but it does not work well in other relationships.

Your wife may also have emotional scars that interfere. She may need to work on defense mechanisms or even work through any emotional trauma she experienced if her parents abused each other or used drugs and alcohol.

One of the issues with your wife's desire to have you in therapy may be that your wife does not see herself as part of the problem. She may be transferring some of her issues onto you. Or she may be fearful of going to therapy alone.

Maybe asking her why she wants you along may help you find what the issue is. If she feels that she cannot go alone, offer to sit in the waiting room. But tell her that you need her to work on these issues so the two of you can have a better marriage.

I hope this helps,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
for me to imply the our problems are due to her problems is a touchy subject. im not opposed to counseling, but i feel its a waste of time if she does not resolve her underlying issues. but, to present that to her is suggesting that its all her fault and that puts her on the defensive. im clearly not perfect, and she has made some major sacifices thus far for our marriage, but i'm concerned that we will never progress until she understands how her past and now current behavior patterns will continues to make communication impossible in our marriage.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for the additional information. It helps.

What you said does confirm that there is something going on with her from her past. If she is sensitive and won't accept suggestion that something is going on with her, then it makes it hard to resolve the issue.

I am assuming that she does not respond well when the therapist tells her that there is a need for her to be seen alone? If you haven't tried that and you think that might work, then ask the therapist to talk with her.

You may also need to be involved if that is what it takes. What your presenting issue should be is that you cannot talk to your wife without her feeling defensive. That is truly a problem that the two of you can work out. Then go from there.

Can you tell your wife that you do not feel it is her fault? Maybe a different angle is what you need with her. Talk to her about why she feels it would be her fault. Tell her everyone has issues they could work on. Be very supportive. Offer to go to a few sessions to start off. Then taper off. Come back as needed but only for a few sessions here or there.

Learn what you can about defenses. It will help you know how to work around them. The more you understand where she is coming from, the better you can address how she acts towards you. Here are some links to help:


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