Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/11/2013


So, after a particularly stressful, late-evening recital in which I forcibly restrained one child and had to run out of the auditorium with another screaming in my arms through a soloist’s piece my wife has given me an ultimatum: go to counseling or get packing. I honestly don’t know what exactly counseling is supposed to do for me nor the specific reason that she wants me to go because it changes from time to time. I have alternately been diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder, anger problems and being a bad parent (all by my spouse of course since I have yet to seek professional help) and although there is some truth in all of these claims I remain unsure about how individual counseling will help. In other words, it is not I who has the problem with my “problems” (although less anger and being a better parent are goals towards which I am constantly working) but my wife. In fact, as I considered my options this morning I couldn’t figure out where to begin for the life of me.

What do I tell the counselor? I can go the easy route and simply say that I am there to work on my unskillful behaviors rooted in anger and fear and that I would appreciate any help specifically in regard to improving my parenting but I almost feel as if I will be deceiving them. I think that, whatever I do, I will need to come right out and tell the counselor that I am there primarily at my wife’s behest.

So, how do I feel about this? Angry and resentful but, in all honesty, who couldn’t benefit from talking to mental health professionals? My greatest fear is that I will do this but my wife will claim I have “tricked” the counselor into believing I’m a good guy (there is a precedent for this) so I am reticent to embark upon such a costly and time intensive endeavor. Still, none of that matters since the trump card has been pulled. Let us see how this goes.

May I remain humble and open-hearted to the criticisms and views of others.


  1. If you go to counseling it seems that your wife should too–in a marriage it is TWO people who create reality not ONE. Have you suggested that to her? Am I supposed to respond to this here?

    • Yes, I have suggested that but I think it’s an issue of time and money.

  2. You could ask your wife what she would like the end result to look like. What is it that she would like to achieve by your going to a therapist. Ask her to be concrete about the results. Ask her to refrain from saying she’d like “you” to do xyz. Ask her to only talk about herself. What does she want to get out of your going to therapy. How does she think that it will benefit her. Once you have listened, see if there is something the two of you could work out together, without the help of a therapist, to meet those expectations. Be honest with her. Tell her what it is that you see yourself doing that could help achieve that/those ends. Also, if you know this, tell her what it is that *you* would like to achieve, if therapy (together) were possible.

    Also, many therapists work on a sliding scale; and you’d be surprised at the amount of counseling insurance companies make affordable, even if it is not specified in your plan. You could inquire about it, and then look for a therapist willing to work with your insurance and/or your budget.

    Also, I agree with spikee21 above. Every relationship is about both partners and how they interact with each other. What I learned at Naropa University, and through my studies in non-violent communication we often do not really listen with our hearts to one another (or to what we are actually saying to others). From personal experience, I have started to listen to the advice I give others, as it is often advice *I* actually need to follow. In the same vein I have noticed that when people give me advice, it is often something *they* need for themselves. The worst part about this realization, for me has been: Do I *tell* them? If I tell them, how will it affect them/our relationship? Will they understand? Will they believe me? Often times, however, just knowing about this interplay has been helpful. It has opened me up to the kindness others are offering me… by giving me well-meaning advice, often intended for the speaker, but with a sincere intention of wanting to *help me*!

    A friend on facebook posted this wonderful article a few days ago: about the challenges of maintaining a healthy relationship over time… I found it to be quite inspiring!

    Good luck! ~Namaste

  3. Know that these difficult times happen to most married people, and “that too shall pass”, impermanence….Maybe first talk to a trusted friend for advice, or your Buddhist teacher

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