A Practical Guide To Couples Therapy
It is one of the universal truths that every marriage will inevitably go through difficult moments. A time may come in which one or both partners feel that splitting up is their best option. To guide your decision-making process, consider the following:
Step 1 — study the literature
- Read several “couples counseling” self-help books.
- Discard “couples counseling” self-help books.
Warning: Do not under any circumstances either believe or attempt to act on what you have read.
Note to women:
These books are written by women for women, and are not in a male partner’s native tongue. Would you want him operating an unfamiliar piece of dangerous machinery after having it explained by someone who didn’t speak his primary language? Of course not, assuming your relationship is still within the reach of this program.
You will gain little to no useful insight into his feelings or motivations.
Note to men:
These books are written by women for women, and are not in your native tongue. Would you operate an unfamiliar piece of dangerous machinery after having it explained by someone who didn’t speak your primary language? Of course you would. It’s a guy thing. But having done that, would you be surprised if it blew up in your face? No.
So don’t be surprised if it blows up in your face.
Note to all:
In particular, ignore any advice along the lines of “clear communication is the secret to a good marriage.” Operate as if these books were written by people with a financial stake in troubled relationships. They are. Clear communication is the secret to repeat business for family counselors.
Conversing in a way that does not make your partner unhappy is excellent. Telling them the truth will make them unhappy. Be honest with yourself: you don’t even want to be honest with yourself, do you really want to hear someone else’s irrational criticism? Is it going to to change your behavior?
They feel the same way.
Furthermore, expressing your deepest feelings, hopes, dreams and desires is not recommended. It may spark the idea your partner is capable of bringing these things to pass.
This is nothing against your particular relationship. Finding the perfect marriage is like the lottery:
- We all know somebody who claims to know somebody who has won.
- Someone will win.
- It won’t be you.
Hence, the true secret to a good relationship is the same as when purchasing lottery tickets: carefully managed expectations.
Step 2 — assess your situation
- Fill out a dating service survey while drunk and sexually aroused. However tempting, do not use your actual name or submit it at this time! Label this Form A.
- The next morning, before your hangover fades, complete a second survey. This time, be scrupulously honest: imagine you are under investigation by the CIA and will receive 10 years in Guantanamo per lie. You will not feel any desire to use your actual name or submit it at this time. Label it Form B.
- Compare your answers.
- Think very carefully about the fact that all potential partners on said dating service will submit their Form A. What you will get is the person from their Form B.
- Think very carefully about the fact that all potential partners on said dating service will expect the person from your Form A. What they will get is the person from your Form B.
- Delete both accounts.
- Clear your browser history.
- Commit to memory what you learned.
- Never mention what you have done. To anyone.
- Double check you have cleared your browser history.
Step 3 — seek advice
Your friend Erica from work says she has a friend named Desireé who is happily married. Her husband James is said to be hot, easy to be with, and a perfect father.
- Note that Desireé is smarter, prettier and more exciting than you are.
- Remember that Erica is a lying bitch and everybody knows it.
- Desireé probably does not actually exist.
- Even if she does, her relationship is no more likely to succeed than yours.
- Stop asking Erica for relationship advice.
Talk to Ted, the guy with all the answers about your love life.
- Note that Ted has been divorced three times.
- Ted is cheating on his most recent wife with someone named Desireé, whose favorite hobbies are drinking wine and oversharing with colleagues.
- Ask yourself why you would seek advice from someone who keeps a couples counselor on retainer.
- He is also sleeping with her.
- Stop asking Ted for relationship advice.
Note: do not delete Ted’s number in case you’re about to be single again and need a new future ex-wife.
Step 4 — take action
Ask yourself if you truly want your relationship to succeed. Be honest.
If the answer is “no”:
- Choose an inconvenient time to open clear lines of communication with your partner.
If the answer is “yes”:
- Do not attempt to open clear lines of communication with your partner.
- Instead, apologize because you have been an asshole lately.
- Strive to stop being such an asshole and treat your partner better.
You have completed our program. It probably didn’t work any better than therapy, but it’s not any worse and is considerably cheaper.