Last week, I talked about the effects of having dissociative identity disorder (DID) on your marriage. This sparked a question about marriage counseling. I am going to address this topic for all adult survivors of child abuse, not just those with DID.
In my opinion, marriage counseling is a great option whenever one party in a marriage is undergoing significant change, and this is common with child abuse survivors who have entered into therapy and/or started the healing process. The marriage worked before because the two people fit together (whether in healthy or unhealthy ways). When one of you changes and grows to be healthier, this change is going to affect the marriage. This is unavoidable because, as you become a different person, your needs are going to change as well.
I wish I could speak to the topic of marriage counseling firsthand, but hub flat out refuses to talk with any sort of “shrink” or counselor. I am sure that he would go if I gave him an ultimatum with divorce being the other option, but I have not been ready/willing to play that card, so we have never done it. I did ask him to talk with my therapist a couple of times, but he always refused. Alas.
If you have a spouse who is more willing to participate in your healing, I suggest Laura Davis’ book Allies in Healing. This book is written for those who love someone who has been sexually abused, and it does a good job explaining many of the things that we need our spouses to know about us. A big issue for spouses is feeling rejected by our ambivalence toward sex. This book helps explain to the spouse that this is an aftereffect of the abuse and not a personal rejection of the spouse.
A good, qualified marriage counselor can help you work through the changes in your marriage as you heal. Your marriage counselor should not be the same person as your personal therapist because you need a “neutral party” that doesn’t have “loyalties” only to you. I have heard from friends who did go through marriage counseling that you can learn a lot of tools to help you understand each other better and increase communication.
If you have personal experience with marriage counseling (whether positive or negative), please share it in the comments. Some of my readers would like to hear from those who have tried it.
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