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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marriage Counseling, Learning to Resolve Issues Before the Massive Blow Up

I just wanted to say quickly that the only reason I've decided to even write about this is because infertility can be, not always, hard on a marriage and the divorce rate is higher for couples that experience infertility so I know I'm not alone.  And then there's PPD and I could have placed a large bet on the fact it would have NEVER HAPPENED to me because I wanted to be a mother so bad, everything was just going to be awesome once I had a baby.  And well, then PPD happened to me. 

.....So we walk into the counselor's office and sit down and immediately, I liked this lady.  She was easy to talk to, but I couldn't stop crying.  Seriously, I used to cry like twice a year, I'm not a crier, but when you lay out all your problems on the table, it was overwhelming!  The first session was just so the counselor could get to know us and she laid some ground rules:
1)  Fight fair.  No name calling, no fighting in front of the kids, and no leaving the house in a middle of a fight.
2)  One issue at a time.  Each session would be devoted to one issue and we'd spend the hour on that issue.

And that was about it.  It felt really good to talk about our problems to someone besides our friends and family because I did not want people to know all of our problems or hear only my side and well, very few people are able to keep a secret and not tell their best friend, their spouse, their mom thinking that person would not also tell someone and before you know, several people know your problems!

Immediately my husband and I decided each of us would get 4 hours to go do what they wanted on a weekend day.  No kids, no chores, no running errands, just time for ourselves.  I usually spent my time on Sunday and would go to movies with my mom, brunch with my girlfriends, shopping, the bookstore, or whatever relieved stress at the moment and I loved it!  And the minute I got home I'd hug and kiss my kids a million times but I deserved that time to my self.

Also, DH agreed to take the kids to daycare in the morning.  At this point I was getting up between 4:30-5am to get ready for the day and be ready for when the kids got up at 5:45 am.  DH on the other hand would get up around 5:45 and leave the house around 6:05....he had NO IDEA what it was like to make sure I was up and ready BEFORE the kids got up otherwise, it took me 2+ hours to get ready while trying to watch 2 kids.  And then to wrangle 2 kids to my moms every morning, it was just too much.  It made more sense for him to get up at 5:30, get ready, the kids wake up and he'd take them to my moms at 6:30 allowing me to get up at 6 and getting ready while the kids were gone and then head to work.  He had always said he'd be late to work and I argued that he wouldn't be late if he left my mom's house at 6:30 and who cared if his boss would no longer see him at work 20 minutes earlier and instead 5 minutes early!  He doesn't get raises or jobs based on his timeliness!  He's union, he gets called off a list so there was no benefit but there was a huge benefit to me to be able to sleep until 6 (except on days with my trainer).

Chores-  Our second session was devoted to chores and our counselor asked if we had a chore chart.  Of course not!  DH was really tired of me getting really upset if he got up from the table and left his plate and cup or if he made his lunch and left the crumbs on the counter, wrappers etc.  I believe in picking up as you go!!  Also, I felt like he never did laundry unless he needed his work pants!!  And the only way he'd really help out is if we had a huge fight and he'd storm around the house, ignoring me...but cleaning (and I must say, I didn't mind, at least he was cleaning but I know that's no way to live).  We made our chart, put it on the fridge and I can tell you what it has transitioned into :

1) Dishes/Kitchen Clean Up/Dining Room- We trade every other day.  Neither can get upset as long as the chore is done prior to going to bed so we wake up to a clean kitchen to start the day fresh.  All dishes have to be done, no "soaking" pans.  We usually just do this chore right after dinner and the other person takes the boys to take a bath.
2) Laundry-  We used to do Wednesdays and Saturdays and the machines did not run any other time (unless one of the kids wets the bed).  Because we don't have spit up on clothes all day long, we are able to just do Saturdays now.  At the end of Saturday, everything has to be folded AND put away in it's place and no clothes can be left in the machine.  And we do this together.
3)  Floors, bathrooms, rooms, dusting, done once a week, and we do it together.

The chore chart was much more detailed than this for the first month but it was too micromanaged and I didn't feel the house was cleaner than it is now:)

By this point, we were doing a lot better and we talked a lot about everything.  I really watch when I'm upset to not say to my husband, "You never doing anything, you never help out!"  Because it's not true but back then it sure did feel like that!  I was reading one of the forums I used to go in all the time for moms with babies born around the time Dylan was and one lady had said she wasn't sure if she was ready to TTC again because her husband doesn't help at all and it would mean that she'd be "a single mother with 2 kids" in her words.  I'm definitely not in that situation and I'm thankful.  Doesn't mean my marriage is perfect but DH helps me out so much now, it's awesome.  He does the grocery shopping, he helps out, and he doesn't have to be asked to do something, he just does it!  Now I'm not naive to think that with our next baby this current pattern will continue but we do talk a lot about what would have to be different this time (he'd have to take on the majority of the laundry, dishes, and cooking chores the first couple months).

So everything is going well at this point and we are really proud of ourselves for getting help before it was too late or just allowing these problems to continue. 

And then, our final counseling session.

I did not know it was going to turn out to be our final session and there was no way I could have prepared myself for the shit storm that was about to happen and the deception I felt from my counselor.  That session resulted in me going home directly afterward, crying all day long, and my husband calling and texting several times to ask if I was okay and him saying, "She crossed the line.  I am so sorry Brandi."

Here's an article about relationships when couples experience infertility (http://www.slate.com/id/2250361/).


  1. that was a great article.. thanks for the link :)

  2. Wow, I am curious - what did she say to you?

  3. Seriously...what happened? I like to think of my mother as a 'relationship counselor' because she crosses the line at every possible point!

  4. My MIL does that! I've learned to stay out of my parent's little tiffs. I'm thankful my mom lives here so I can go vent to her once in a while:)

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