For Better AND Worse
I told y’all that I would share some of the things things that LeAnn and I learned in marriage counseling. I think a lot of people would be embarrassed if someone they knew saw them coming out of a marriage counselor’s office. Don’t be. I think every married couple should go to at least one session. I believe, if we’re being really honest, for 99% of us, marriage is one of, if not the hardest, things we’ll ever do.
So what brought LeAnn and me to the point of admitting we needed counseling? There were many symptoms, but it all boiled down the fact that neither of us felt loved. My personal counselor had us order the book, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. We got it from Amazon for about ten bucks.
In the book, we took a love language quiz that determined our love languages, or more simply, what is it, that makes you feel loved? The five languages are, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Turns out, I was physical touch. And no, not every guy gets that one, LOL! What that means, is when she holds my hand or puts her arm around me, some form of touching, I feel loved. Also I feel like I’m giving love if I give a hug or kiss and so on.
LeAnn’s was Acts of Service, which means she feels love when someone does something out of kindness for her or the ones she loves. These acts don’t have to be huge or well planned out, just done with love.
The book went into great detail about each language (it’s not a long book, took me about two hours to read it) and we learned a LOT about each others needs and that neither of us was getting it.
It’s like we were stuck in the mud, (I’m notorious for gettin’ stuck, LeAnn should always drive) she wasn’t getting what she needed from me, SO she wouldn’t give me what I needed, and I wasn’t getting what I needed, SO I wouldn’t give her what she needed. And like an old mud-hole, our relationship became stagnant, and started to stink (figuratively stink) even though we still loved each other,
We learned so much from the book, but then we had years of hurt and resentment to work out. So my counselor, suggested that we go to the Vet Center for marriage counseling. She gave me a number of a lady to call there to make an appointment. (I hate making phone calls, my anxiety skyrockets and I put ’em off. If you’ve ever been, or are still waiting on a call from me…sorry)
Eventually, (about a month later) I called and we went to see our new therapist. (At this point I’m going to both my therapist and our new counselor once a week. Can we say CRAZY?! I’m not really crazy…I’ve been tested…and the results were inconclusive, so…) Anyway, when we got there, she talked to us both separately, then brought us in together on another day.
From then on, one of the biggest things we worked on was communication. We did Reflective Listening, (SO awkward and silly feeling, but I still do it when needed) which is listening to what the other person has to say and then repeating back to them what you understood them to say. It helps for clarity of feelings or ideas and more importantly, it makes the other person feel heard.
I have to stop here and say that not only did I make LeAnn cry throughout our sessions, but our therapist also shed some tears as well. (She said she NEVER cries in sessions) Whenever I walked in, they each grabbed a tissue box. (What does that tell us??!!) Although, she told me that I can’t make anyone cry. People are responsible for their own responses and emotions. I can’t make anybody FEEL anything. That is still hard for me to grasp, but it’s true.
Our therapist was amazing! She hardly talked at all. She made us do most of the talking or she’d just stare at us until we said something. Most therapists I’ve been to talk for almost the whole session. We made some progress and began working our way to better communication and speaking the other’s Love Language. (Guess what, we all have a secondary Love Language. You REALLY want to take this test now, right?)
I’d love to tell you that in a couple of months, everything was perfect and fine, but remember at the top when I was talking about a marriage being work? It takes time to get back to a functional, if not happy relationship. We started in 2016 and just last year about this time I became completely broken, and while deveastating, it turned out to be exactly what I needed to let go of things that were holding me back and move on with LeAnn. At this point in the post, I should get LeAnn a box of Kleenex. (She’s so cute, and just as sweet as everyone says she is) She deserves better and I’m working (almost) every day to give her just that.
This is just a small portion of we have done so far, but we still have a ways to go, a whole lifetime in fact.
I’ve gotten messqges from a few people who are having marital problems. To start, I would reccommend every couple at least get the book, The 5 Love Languages (no, I don’t get any kickback from it, lol) and also, get some counseling for their relationship. There’s nothing to ashamed of. It’s really the adult thing to do. (Who doesn’t love adulting?) After all, we married because we loved them. We should work to keep it or to get it back; partners too! It can help even the best relationship, IF BOTH people work on it.