How to help your divorcing friend find a lost relationship
Once I forgot where I parked my car. I was so sure where it was that I kept looking for it in the wrong place. I even went so far as to report it stolen. The officer asked me good questions and helped me realize what I knew all along – exactly where my car was really parked. In much the same way, marriage counseling provides an opportunity to retrace steps – and the potential to recover a marriage that may have become lost along the way.
If at some point it becomes obvious that your friend’s marriage is fragile and you want to encourage professional help, here are some of the more common objections – and how to respond.
“I don’t want to tell my problems to a complete stranger.”
It understandably feels counterintuitive to disclose one’s most personal concerns with a stranger, yet the value of counseling is that it provides an even playing field. The counselor is working on behalf of the marriage rather than for the sake of one individual over the other. As rapport is developed, your friend will find that it can be helpful, and a relief, to talk with an unbiased person.
“What will a counselor tell me that I don’t already know?”
The truth is that your friend truly is the expert on his or her life. Often when we are in the thick of something difficult, however, we stray from the things we know and truly can’t see the forest for the trees. There is great benefit in allowing a counselor to ask good questions to help remember and recover what’s been lost.
“Marriage counseling is too expensive.”
Marriage counseling can be costly, and often is not covered by health insurance. Gently ask your friend to contemplate the cost of a divorce to help him or her consider the possibility of counseling. When put in perspective, marriage counseling is far less costly then a divorce.
“My spouse will never go with me to counseling.”
Often one partner refuses counseling because he or she fears being blamed, embarrassed, judged or misrepresented. Encourage your friend to make the decision jointly with the spouse about who to see and agree to have three visits to evaluate together if the environment feels safe, objective and helpful. If the spouse still refuses to attend, encourage your friend to proceed into counseling individually. Often when one spouse’s change positively impacts the marriage, the other spouse becomes curious and joins in.
“I’m strong enough to do this on my own.”
Counseling is actually a move of strength because it identifies where the relationship is open to attack and offers a collaborative effort to defend the well-being of the marriage. Typically one feels empowered, not weakened, by this process. If you have engaged in counseling yourself, take the lead and share personally about the positive impact it had for you.
Marriage counseling at best can help a couple find a relationship that has been lost for a while. Yet, even when the love can’t be found, each person has the opportunity to determine how to move forward positively and with everyone’s best interests at heart.