Hi Dr. Dan- I have enjoyed your show for years and appreciate the service it provides. I find myself at a point where I am in need of a therapist, but am not sure how to proceed. My wife and I are having problems and she attributes this in large part to my behavior (lack of respect, communication, etc.) I’m sure this is in large part true, so I’d like to have therapy individually as well as marital counseling.Does individual therapy occur at the same time as the marital counseling, or are they done at separate times? Can I start with a therapist and then have my wife join the therapy? My wife has been in therapy before and says it can be very hard and wearing. If that is so, would individual and marital therapy at the same time be too much?
Dear concerned husband,
Sometimes marital problems are mostly because of one person. Sometimes, but not often. Certainly this is the case with the abuse or violence where one spouse feels unsafe in the matter. If you haven't harmed her physically or psychologically, nevertheless If your behavior is so irritating to your wife that she will not go into therapy until you have done some work, so be it.
On the other hand, if she is willing to go into therapy with you, I would recommend that. Very often in marital therapy I have one spouse working for an entire session, sometimes two or more on their issues. That way the observing spouse can get to see and understand you from a different perspective. Because after all, the goal is not just behavior change, the goal is mutual respect and understanding. I am sure your wife would also benefit from talking to a therapist about her marriage with you sitting in the room. It would help you understand the impact of your behavior beyond her surface reaction.
I hope that helps