Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Therapy Is Ruining Her Marriage

Under the highly professional aegis of her credentialed therapist, a woman who calls herself  No Space for Private Thoughts, NSPT, has made a hash of her marriage. So she writes to another therapy-addled twit, that being New York Magazine columnist Ask Polly, to seek absolution.

To be clearer, she wants Polly to tell her that she is right and that her husband is wrong. After all, she was merely expressing her feelings. Just because they were all hostile shouldn't matter. Better yet, if you prefer idiocy, she was feeling her feelings. Her therapist told her to do it, so she cannot understand why it doesn’t work. Being a good therapy patient she believes that the fault lies with the husband and that he now needs therapy himself.

Thus do therapists do bad jobs and use their own failures to gin up business for themselves and their profession.

Apparently, said husband has mental health issues of his own. Considering that he is married to a complaining nag, it is not overly surprising. You will see that NSPT begins her complaining by saying that her husband does not always do as he is told. She does not quite see that when she behaves this way she is treating him like a child. 

Here is her letter:

The past year has been hard on our family. My husband and I have beautiful children and are gainfully employed, but he dislikes his position and is dealing with major depression and anxiety. I’ve been holding it together, some days are better than others, but I support him and am trying to help him as he journeys to recovery. About seven months ago, I finally got my postpartum anxiety under control and have been feeling better, which is a blessing because I don’t know that I could handle everything without having my own mental health in check.

Lately, my husband has sometimes been difficult to be around. He has forgotten some of the small things I’ve asked him to refrain from doing over the years (“Please wash out your spit from the sink” and minor things like this). I talked to my therapist, and she advised me to write these things down and, if I felt the need to bring them up at a later date, I could. Having them somewhere would help me figure out what was important enough to address and what was just a nagging thought that would pass. This was great advice because my husband also asked me to take it easy on him and stop criticizing him about small stuff. Because our children are small, I wasn’t confident that a diary would be private, as they tend to go through things. So I decided to email myself when I wanted to write down my complaints. The emails turned into vent sessions with myself and I also wrote down some other bigger relationship issues I had feelings about. I’d planned to review these issues and address them with my husband, maybe after he got through the worst of his depression.

Let’s be clear. The therapist was offering her bad advice. She was not helping her patient to deal with emotions. She was turning her into a complaint factory. You see, within the therapy world, the practice of writing down certain things has been in use for decades now. It is a staple of cognitive therapy. Yet, all serious cognitive therapists understand that when you are depressed and feel worthless you should write down thoughts about yourself… not about other people. You should write down evidence that would tend to prove your worthlessness and an equal number of thoughts that prove your worth. Unbalanced thoughts are the royal road to depression.

This therapist has incompetently told the letter writer only to write down her complaints about her husband. And she chooses to write them in emails. Again, this is none too bright. Try writing them on a piece of paper and then discarding it when finished.

Since this woman explains that she and her husband do not keep secrets, it is no surprise that he found her complaining, whining emails. After all, they share a computer. Duh!:

My husband and I generally respect each other’s privacy. For instance, a few months ago, while using Google Maps in the car, my husband opened my email and asked why I’d received a note from an admissions department regarding a master’s program. I wasn’t seriously looking at the program — I was just curious — so I didn’t share with him that I had inquired. It was surprising that he read my email, and I asked him not to go through my emails again, and if he had any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them. We don’t keep secrets, so this wasn’t an issue, and he apologized.

Now you can see where this is going. Last night, after a hard day at work, my husband opened up our personal computer. I was still logged in to my email when he opened the email portal to check his own, so my inbox popped up. He saw an email about three or four down in my inbox titled “relationship complaints,” and he decided to open it. He not only read the most recent email I had sent myself, he also read the other three.

These emails I sent contained private, very negative thoughts that I did not want him to see. I was working through my emotions in a healthy way. He knows I journal to clear my head, and he knows that I have a tendency to send emails to myself as a way of journaling. The emails contained only criticisms of him; some were very petty while others were larger relationship issues we need to work on once his mental health is in a better place.

He immediately confronted me, and I became defensive and hurt that he invaded my privacy. He is hurt and thinks I have shown him I don’t love him, like him, or want him around. We aren’t speaking.

I know we need couples counseling, which I’m going to set up today. But was I really in the wrong to email myself these private, very negative thoughts? If not, how can I get through to him that, while it’s understandable that he is hurt, he invaded my privacy in a major way?

No Space for Private Thoughts

Genius, if you don’t want him to see them, don’t write them down where he can see them. One suspects that the man discovered the truth about his marriage in the emails. He discovered that his wife’s latent and blatant hostility to him was rendering him depressed and anxious. It was an awakening, you might say, one that should lead the woman to fire her therapist and to change her deviant ways. One is trying to be optimistic: if she wrote to Polly the chances are that she will double down on nagging and drive her husband out of the house.


Ashley Squishy said...

Festivus every day at her house.

Dan Patterson said...

Marriage therapy. An expensive session where the husband is derided for his every misstep, his wrongs are reinforced and his attributes are ignored.

Anonymous said...

Journaling is just rehearsing the anxiety/unhappiness. Picking a scab makes healing take longer. Better she should rinse the sink and figure out what actions she can take to make life easier for her, her husband and her kids. And dump the “therapist”.