Tuesday is therapy day for me. I’m supposed to have a fifty minute session. I had a two-hour session. In fact, my prior sessions were about ninety minutes each. My therapist just lets them go on and on. He then looks at the clock and says, “Wow! I should really pay more attention to the time, but we are doing really important work here.”
Tuesday’s session was not as intense as the prior session. I didn’t leave feeling as raw or amped up. I deliberately chose a therapist in the same practice as my husband’s therapist. That sounds funny to me–my husband’s therapist. That implies that he regularly attends therapy. He doesn’t. He’s seen his therapist a few times and without any sort of regularity. Therapy was a condition of mine.
I issued an ultimatum last summer or, at least, I think it was last summer. My sense of time feels skewed somehow. I told him that he must see a psychiatrist for his medication management rather than an internist. Internists have their favorite drugs or drug rather. They all seem to favor Zoloft. Zoloft seems to be the cure for all that ails a person. Zoloft will not cure much if one has severe depression or profound anxiety. If one needs a little tweak, then perhaps Zoloft will do the trick. A psychiatrist should ultimately be the clinician managing one’s neuropharmaceutical medications. Not a GP. Do you really want a doc who removes hemorrhoids and diagnoses strep infections treating your mental illness? I don’t.
I also told my husband that he must see a therapist consistently if I was going to think about staying in the marriage. My therapist asked if I was bluffing. I wasn’t really bluffing. Had he refused, then I would have had to seriously assess my options. After about six months my husband decided to comply. He is slow to make decisions. He doesn’t respond well to threats or ultimatums, and we are a good match in that. I am not one to make threats or issue ultimatums.
My therapist offered me good advice on Tuesday. He observed that we are in different places emotionally, spiritually, developmentally, and intellectually. He may be intimidated by me, and this may be another reason we fail to connect and effectively communicate. He may be right. I expect my husband to be able to keep up with me and my ability to process and understand emotions when, in fact, he cannot. He lacks the cognitive ability to do so. We discussed other factors that may contribute to his categorized behaviors, but, in the end, I am still where I started. I am at a crossroads. What can I radically accept, and what can I not? What is too fundamentally broken to fix? What can be changed?
This is most likely why people avoid therapy when it comes to marriage. Who wants to go to therapy only to have a therapist tell them that they are 1) being abused 2) possibly incompatible with their partner and 3) in need of a major reality adjustment?
It is not for the faint of heart, but I am finding that I sort of like it. I am feeling a sense of strength begin to awaken in me, and it’s long overdue. I haven’t spoken the truth in my marriage in a long while, and I actually did this week. I told the truth. I asked truthful questions of my husband, and he answered honestly. Nothing is fixed and yet I feel better. I told the truth, and he did not gaslight me. He listened, and he looked stricken. Why? He has indeed been abusive, and I told him so. I used the ‘A’ word. Abuse.
“That behavior can be called abusive. That’s what my therapist said. I think he might be right.”
Third-party credibility is very helpful when it comes to telling the truth in a relationship. A therapist is not the same as a girlfriend. “Deandra says that when you yell at me that’s abusive,” is not the same as when a therapist makes a similar observation. Gravitas matters. There’s something about that PhD after the name that just might make a difference to people.
There’s another reason to go to therapy. Third-party credibility. When we start taking the risk to tell the truth to someone we might fear, we need that back up. We need that extra dose of credibility. That evidence. That extra opinion. It got my husband’s attention.
I highly recommend it.