Sunday, December 3

While marriage counseling has proven to be a valuable tool in mending relationship issues, it doesn’t always halt the path toward divorce, says Laura Doyle, a New York Times best-selling author and host of The Empowered Wife Podcast. Sometimes, despite sincere efforts and the guidance of a skilled therapist, the fundamental issues may run too deep, or the parties involved may have miscommunicated so much that they feel as though they are on different paths in life.

The Feisty News caught up with Laura Doyle to ask her why marriage counseling isn’t a sure-fire remedy for marriage issues and what women can do to help revive their marriages instead.

TFN:  Why do women generally opt to go to marriage counseling?
Laura Doyle: Many women, including me, choose marriage counseling because things have gotten so painful in the marriage that they feel their last hope is for a professional to show their husband what he’s doing wrong and have him take it seriously. Or it’s a last-ditch response to his affair, him leaving or filing for divorce and she wants to keep her family together, and her finances.

TFN: Why doesn’t marriage counseling always work?
Laura Doyle:  When I dragged my husband to marriage counseling it was mostly so she could fix him so I could finally be happy. So I was not focused on self-improvement so much as husband improvement, which never works. Complaining to a stranger in front of your husband about everything he does wrong is disrespectful, and respect is like oxygen for husbands. So no wonder we fought on the way home. I was suffocating him every Tuesday at 7 pm on that gray couch at the marriage counselor’s office. Some marriage counselors don’t have good marriages. They’re going through a divorce, or they’re on their third marriage, so how can they help you with your marriage? A certificate on the wall is no guarantee that they have what you want in their marriage. Finally, there’s no such thing as working on a relationship. There’s just working on yourself and then he responds to you better.

TFN: Should women try harder to make their marriages last?
Laura Doyle: Most women are already trying very hard to make their marriages last and just need the right support and information to be successful. It never feels good to give up on your family, your finances, and the dream you had when you said, “I do.” Nobody wants to go through the enormous pain and expense of a divorce, but marriage counseling can make you feel hopeless and exhausted.

TFN: What can women do to improve their relationships with their husbands without marriage counseling?
Laura Doyle: One of the things I learned by interviewing women with happy marriages is how to activate my husband’s hero gene. I didn’t think he had one of those, and my students always think their husband doesn’t have one either, but thankfully we were all wrong! It’s just that no one ever taught us the skills we need to be successful in love.

I had been trying to remind, beg, nag and demand that my husband do things I wanted him to do, which wasn’t working at all and was causing lots of fights. Once I learned to express my desires in a way that inspires, I was amazed at how quickly and positively he responded to me. I’m teach this skill every chance I get because it is a game changer!
We used to have big fights about housework. Sometimes we’d end up in a cold war with no talking for days. I tried asking him politely, making spreadsheets and explaining that if I cooked it was his job to clean up, but he refused! I was so tired of being the only adult in our house! I nearly divorced him.
Then one day I did an experiment. I said, “I would love a clean kitchen.” And this time, instead of just turning up the volume on the TV to drown me out, my husband said, “Okay. I’ll do it.” And he did! Even more amazing, he’s been doing the dishes ever since, and that was over 20 years ago! Why? Because he knows it makes his wife happy and he wants to be my hero. If you think your husband doesn’t have a hero gene, what could it hurt to experiment and find out?


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