Turning relationships around is the absolute last thing I expected to be doing with my life. When I was about ten years old, I said to my mother, “I don’t see why I’m supposed to get all excited about spending my life washing some guy’s socks.” That was my picture of marriage! Maybe I was watching too many detergent commercials after school!
Decades later, I watched the movie, The Good Woman. In it, Helen Hunt says that being married was like being shut up in a room that got smaller every year. That was a good description of my fear.
I’m sure a lot of my skepticism came from my own parents’ divorce when I was four. How could it not? That, combined with the amazingness of my mother. I didn’t put words to it back then, but I just had a feeling my mom genuinely enjoyed my brother and me a lot more than a lot of parents who had way more time and money. We hung out. We had a lot of fun routines. We did art projects together on Saturdays.
As a family, I didn’t feel lacking. I felt lucky. Of course, there were things I missed out on, but I didn’t understand them until much later.
I also saw that she was her own person and made her own decisions, in spite of her hardships. The married women I observed around me? Sometimes yes, sometimes not so much. (To learn more about my incredible mother, check out my post The Coolest Mom.)
My feelings about marriage didn’t change much when I grew up. In my twenties, I was more interested in adventure than settling down. It didn’t have anything to do with not liking men. I liked them a lot and I like to think I learned some good relationship skills.
But sometime in my thirties I grew weary of relationships that were valuable, but didn’t completely fill up my heart. And I realized that a deeper relationship would be an adventure in its own right, and hopefully a more meaningful one. I started to suspect that, as a friend of mine said, “Good married was better than good single.”
I’m very lucky. I met a man who is good and kind, who I find very interesting and who makes me laugh. Teaching moment: those are very important things to look for! John has showed me what acceptance is on a level I had never experienced before. I feel rock-solid support from him, and that’s a big part of what drives me to help other couples go for relationship gold.
Make no mistake, ours is a real marriage in real life. Every marriage will have its stages when it’s more than you bargained for. For one thing, I’m a step-mother. Even though my step-daughter, who is 19 now, is an absolute dear, a blended family has built-in challenges. There’s always a piece of your family life that’s out of your control.
Another thing is that I had never dated engineers and never pictured myself doing so! I leaned more toward therapists like myself, or academics, you know, the liberal arts grads. So, we definitely had to learn each other’s language. Those early days seem far away now, though, because now I really appreciate engineers a lot. (For more on this, see my post Relationship Advice for Women Who Love Engineers.)
And no, in case you were wondering, I don’t wash my husband’s socks. It takes something extreme for me to do his laundry for him. I still have a thing about that!
Becoming a therapist was very natural but it also took me awhile to get there. As a teenager I gobbled up books on psychology. I also volunteered on a teen crisis hotline. But in college my interests ran more to languages and literature, and after college I taught English as a Second Language.
In my twenties, I got very interested in domestic violence. I volunteered at a shelter, and that eventually led to a master’s degree and years later to the therapy practice I have now.
I have a good personality for counseling couples. I’m a natural mediator and peacemaker. I can always see the other side. I’ve worked in a lot of roles in the mental health world, but really got excited when I was called upon to help resolve a conflict. I really like to see the walls come down and people open up to each other again.
The truth is, I wanted to do marriage counseling years before I actually did. But the irony was impossible to miss: I wanted to DO marriage counseling, but I didn’t want to BE married? I waited until I was bona fide.
Now, I’m excited about branching out and serving more people by creating digital products. Is the internet not tailor-made for getting help with personal problems? Last I read about it, the research said only 6% of couples who get divorced have tried counseling. It takes a lot of courage to reach out to a stranger for help. I’m all sympathy about that, because I’ve seen a counselor myself on more than one occasion, and I know how much goes into that. Now people have a way of seeking help more privately, if they choose to, and I think that’s just fantastic.
Thank you for stopping by and thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you find something here that is just what you need right now to solve what is troubling you.
Here’s to your own rock solid marriage!