Marriage Counseling Success Story
To honor our confidentiality commitment to our clients, the story below uses the fictional names of “Jim” and “Lisa.”` The couple worked with counselor Christa Wright, licensed associate marriage and family therapist (MS, AMFT), at Catherine J. Hunter & Associates.
What initiated counseling?
Jim and Lisa came to counseling because of broken trust issues in their marriage related to finances. Lisa was trying to decide whether to stay in the marriage. Jim decided to start therapy first and eventually asked Lisa to join him.
What did Jim and Lisa discover?
The couple discovered that issues from their past were affecting their marriage and ability to communicate with each other. When he was a child, Jim’s over-protective mother often suggested that they not share problems with his father. “As an adult, that translated into not telling anyone about problems and that I had to fix them myself,” explained Jim. Lisa had a highly critical and controlling alcoholic father, so she had learned to avoid issues instead of dealing with them. “When Jim would come home and immediately ask me about something that I was supposed to take care of on a particular day, it reminded me of my very critical family,” said Lisa. “I would shut down.” Jim and Lisa were falling into patterns based on their pasts.
How did the counseling sessions work?
Christa first referred each of them into individual counseling to work through the specific family issues that had come into the marriage. After that, the focus was on communication and learning to be honest with each other. “Counseling sessions were a safe area, where we could speak to each other without fighting,” said Lisa. “As a mediator, Christa could relay information in a way that Jim could hear me and vice versa for me. It really worked for us.”
Learning how to communicate was quite difficult, but they persisted. A key moment occurred after a very difficult session. “We were in the car and I kept saying to Jim, ‘I’m done, I’m done,’” explained Lisa. “A light bulb went off for Jim and he said, ‘Wow, there is nothing that I can do about this.’ It was a big moment for us, because I saw him realize that he can’t fix everything. It helped us decide to move forward together.”
Jim gained a different point of view from the sessions. “I didn’t realize how my actions were hurting Lisa,” said Jim. “Lisa also learned that I was not doing things on purpose.” Christa helped them learn how to stop hiding from each other and connect in honesty, which builds intimacy and trust.
In addition to communication, the couple worked with Christa on a plan to divide and manage financial responsibilities. She recommended a financial counselor to provide guidance on managing money in a healthy way.
How did counseling help you with the most difficult changes?
Lisa moved out for a few months, which was difficult for the couple. “It was a challenging time, but Christa supported us through it and we were able to reunite,” said Lisa. “We learned to communicate, listen, and set boundaries. Christa introduced us to tools that will help throughout our lives.”
For Jim, realizing what he was doing to Lisa was very painful. “I realized why my previous divorces had occurred,” said Jim. “With what I learned, I might have saved my other marriages.”
Jim and Lisa both stress the value of counseling for a troubled marriage, especially the mediation role that bridges any communication gaps. “You need a mediator. You also have to want to be married, be willing to change, and be honest,” said Jim.
“Finding the right counselor is important,” explains Lisa. “Christa really understood how to work with us. We were a little uncertain about the Christian-based focus of the practice, but quickly realized that Christa accepted our beliefs. We never felt pressured. Christa understands how to connect with people and focus in on what would help them best.”
How has counseling changed their lives?
Jim and Lisa were able to identify broken patterns based on their pasts and learn new, healthy ones that opened up communication and built trust. Counseling strengthened their relationship.
“Counseling is why we are together today,” said Jim. “We have no secrets and now understand how to be a husband and wife.”