Dear Coleen: I'm clinging on to hope that therapy will make him stay

Dear Coleen

I'm a woman in my late 30s and have been married for seven years but my husband and I have reached a crisis point.

While I still love him and want to try everything to make it work, his mind seems made up about separating and going ahead with a divorce. He moved out a few weeks ago, so it’s been very hard.

We got together for a drink recently to catch up on things. Both of us were miserable and I think being apart has made him reconsider rushing into divorce because he agreed to go for some relationship counselling. However, he emphasised that he didn’t expect it to change his mind but acknowledged that it might help the process.

I’m still clinging on to the hope that therapy will help us but don’t know what to expect, as I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m feeling very nervous about what’s going to come out in the sessions.

I suppose our relationship started suffering during Covid, trapped together in a tiny flat with two dogs and no garden, trying to work and get along. I thought things would get better when life got back to normal but they’ve actually got worse.

He thinks I’m unambitious and fixated on having a baby, and claims he feels under pressure when he doesn’t know what he wants. I just think he doesn’t want to grow up and have responsibilities.

Coleen says

Well , I think signing up for ­relationship therapy is a ­positive move and it does show your husband’s mind is open to possibilities, despite what he might say. It shows he’s willing to try something different and to compromise by taking on board what you want.

The important thing with therapy is commitment. It’s not a quick fix and it takes time to get a breakthrough one way or the other. So, it’ll only help if you give it time and you’re both willing to be open and completely honest.

It can be a painful process because it will bring issues, fears, resentments and insecurities to the surface, so you have to be prepared for that. It takes resilience. You’ll have to face all those issues you’ve described, like different views on starting a family, and you might not like hearing your husband’s opinions.

If you read this column ­regularly, then you’ll know I have had counselling at different points in my life and it’s always helped me to see more clearly and enabled me to move forward in my life. But it’s not an easy process. It’s true, you can’t predict the outcome when you embark on it. In my case, counselling helped give me the confidence to finally leave my first marriage, so of course that’s a possibility in your case too.

But it’s also helped me to give other relationships a chance. If you go into it positively, you’ll have a great opportunity to be seen and heard, and to work through the problems. Good luck.

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