Fixing Our Flaws: The Benefits of Personal Counseling
If your car starts making a strange noise, you take it to the mechanic quickly. If your plumbing springs a leak, you get it fixed. If your roof starts leaking you call the repair man. So why would you not call a counselor when you have some issue troubling you psychologically?
It has always amazed me that men typically resist counseling – – and do so vigorously. Even when their spouses implore them to go to a counselor, they hold back. Often, only under the threat of an ultimatum, will they yield and reluctantly visit a marriage counselor. The spouse, on the other hand is likely all too ready to go and has been thinking of this as a possible remedy for some time.
To be fair, men have a good reason to be wary of counseling. For one thing, we are not articulate in describing our emotions (beyond anger) so it feels threatening to begin with. Added to this is the fact that our spouse is often very articulate, especially emotionally, and can likely talk circles around us. Hence the conflict begins over whether to resolve a conflict.
There’s one more thing that troubles men about going to counseling: they feel they are supposed to get emotionally naked in front of a stranger. Of course that is not the case, but as my pastor used to say “It isn’t true but it is real.”
So here are the reasons why you should be willing to go to counseling, either alone or with your partner:
All of us have problems and baggage from our childhood and adolescence which hold us back emotionally as adults. You may not even be aware of what those issues are, but chances are you have bumped into them in your love relationships or in the work environment. You will never live a complete and full emotional life until you deal with these issues – – they will not go away and they will keep causing trouble until you deal with them.
There is no shame in seeking help for a psychological issue. We create shame by following society’s bad advice which says only people who are crazy go to counselors or therapists. Please liberate yourself from that antiquated notion. All of us occasionally need help in dealing with our emotions.
You’ll never experienced true intimacy with your partner until you deal with the issues which are keeping the two of you at a distance. Your partner likely knows this intuitively, so it would be helpful if you see the request to go to counseling as a plea for more closeness. Again society has told men to remain distant and tough and this makes true intimacy nearly impossible.
It would help you accept the idea of counseling if you knew you could go there with your own agenda already prepared. And you should do this. Whatever issues have been troubling you in the marriage are fodder for you to bring up in a counseling session. Likely you have been dodging those issues to avoid conflict; however conflict is inevitable so why not go ahead and work through the conflict and make your relationship stronger. A lot of men are reluctant to bring up issues because they think that will cause trouble in the relationship. However, if you bring up these issues and successfully resolve them, you know your marriage is strong enough to handle them. Otherwise, you are always unsure.
Realize that your communication style is valid. But also realize it may need some fine-tuning. Men do handle relationships differently from women, but both parties have to respect each other’s style and learn to moderate their own style in accommodation. What this means is that you should not limit your conversation to one word answers and grunts and groans, but instead take a moment and search inside yourself to figure out what you’re really feeling, then verbalize that. Remember, feelings left unspoken become resentments and eventually turn to anger. This is disastrous in an intimate relationship.
Finally, as stated earlier, the menu of emotions from which men typically select is limited to one or two. The one most frequently used is anger because society has said anger is OK for men to have and express. But if that is your go-to emotion, then you only deal with things if they make you angry. If you Google the word emotion, you’ll see that there are dozens more emotions that you probably are feeling but have never expressed. Women get the credit for having a wide pallet of emotions, but that is because they are more able to express them. We have those same emotions, but we have not learned to properly make them known.
So here is your assignment: Start opening up to your partner and speaking what you are feeling in a calm and loving manner. Then go to counseling either with your partner or alone—and be honest about your feelings. Ask for help.
I wish I could convince you that your life will be so much better with proper counseling. If possible, talk to someone who has been and see what others have learned. But I will issue this guarantee: your life will be richer by far if you deal with your own emotions and share those emotions appropriately with your partner.