I’ve noticed that a lot of requests for help that come through e-mail, text, or sites like Thumbtack.com list “save my marriage” as the reason for seeking help. So I thought I’d let you know in advance – I can’t do that.
A lifeguard can save someone’s life often even in the face of their resistance. They’re trained to swim to shore with a struggling, uncooperative victim. But I probably won’t be touching you during couples counseling, and I can’t forcibly make your spouse stop yelling or nagging or being lazy or whatever it is you think is the problem. In that respect, I can’t “save” your marriage.
What I can do is teach you to save it yourself. There’s a classic joke we therapists like to tell: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one – but the lightbulb has to really want to change. Ba-dum ching!
If you are hoping I will offer some silver bullet that will make the problem go away, I’m afraid I’m not your guy. I don’t have a magic wand or a metaphorical life-saver flotation device. If you plan to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them and wait for change to happen, I would say you should expect to wait a very long time.
But if you are prepared to hear points of view you may not have considered before; if you are ready to be a little humble and accept responsibility for things you may have done wrong; if you are ready to change the way you do things even when the way you do things is not objectively wrong – then I’d say we’ve got a fairly good shot at getting the life rope out to you.
If “save my marriage” sounds good to you, then get ready to swim. I’ll show you the way.