Laura Doyle’s new book will be entitled: First, Kill All the Marriage Counselors.
The title lacks originality, but it makes her point clearly and effectively. Long time readers of this blog know that I too have warned people off of marriage counseling… here, here, here and here.
A relationship coach herself, Doyle learned the hard way why not to go into marriage counseling.
At some point in the distant past Doyle’s marriage was in trouble. By her account, she had gotten into the habit of belittling and criticizing her husband. When he failed to respond properly to her efforts to debase him, she decided that he needed to change. The best way to affect that change, she believed, was to go to marriage counseling.
You might ask yourself where she learned that the right way to treat a husband, or anyone, for that matter, was to belittle and criticize him. Is there something in the culture?
Doyle explained herself in The Daily Mail:
It was six years before John and I opted for marriage guidance. By then we rowed frequently and I was oblivious to the damage my constant belittling was doing. John spent so much time watching telly, he’d rather watch a repeat than make love….
I’d been on at him to ‘change’ — the classic wife’s mistake — and mentioned therapy as a way to do it.
What happened in marriage therapy? Let Doyle describe her experience:
For more than two years we traded weekly insults, with the counsellor often on my side.
She did nothing to disabuse me of my belief it was his job to make me happy, not mine. In front of her, I told John he had ‘no spine’ and that there was something wrong with him.
It was at her behest that I persuaded him to be tested for attention deficiency disorder — thinking there must be some medical reason for his shortcomings. Quite how John didn’t run for the hills I’ll never know.
Rather than encouraging me to see all the brilliant things about my husband — why I fell in love with him in the first place — the counsellor merely highlighted the bad.
Doyle was wrecking her marriage by talking down to her husband. Her credentialed therapist took her side. The therapist agreed that her husband was a sorry excuse for a person and supported Doyle’s attacks. Under the cover of “therapy” Doyle found herself empowered to insult and attack her husband with impunity.
Evidently, marriage counseling did not help her marriage. It inflicted further harm.
Even then I failed to recognise the major contributing factor to my marital strife: marriage counselling. But as I spoke to more and more women who’d had similar experiences, there was no hiding from it.
One woman was told by her counsellor: ‘Don’t you see, your marriage is dead?’ Her husband wanted to work at it, but she listened to the ‘advice’ and sought a divorce — which she now deeply regrets.
In another case it was only when her husband accepted the therapist’s proddings and said they should part that the wife realised it wasn’t what she wanted. By then it was too late.
No one should ever call this science. It is ideological indoctrination.
Eventually, Doyle started asking herself how her negative attitude might be contributing to her problems. She saw herself and other women vacillating between demeaning their husbands and acting the victim. When they do not get their husbands to follow their orders, they retreat into the role of martyr. It’s an alternate mode of manipulation.
In Doyle’s words:
Wives mostly swing between disrespecting their husband and playing the martyr. Marriage counselling re-enforces this, but I do the opposite by suggesting women rein in their negativity.
Essentially husbands just want to please their wives, but at times feel it’s hopeless.
Eventually, Doyle quit therapy and decided to seek out some real advice. She decided to listen to voices of experience, not voices of politically correct therapists. She asked women who had been in long, happy marriages for advice. She was so desperate that she took the advice.
I was willing to try anything to save my marriage so I started to bite my tongue. The next time John asked: ‘What shall I wear?’ I got a perverse pleasure from his confusion when I replied: ‘Whatever you think, darling, you have good taste.’
Gradually the dynamic began to change; friends said: ‘What’s happened to John? He looks different.’ I noticed that he stood straighter and when I came in from work he got up from the sofa and smiled: he was happy to see me.
OMFG … who knew it was so easy?