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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Elizabeth Street

HOW COUPLES THERAPY SAVED MY RELATIONSHIP

Jun 26, 2013

How Couples Therapy Saved My Relationship

When my husband proposed to me, we had been in a long-distance relationship for several years. The first step toward our nuptials was for me to move from my home in Los Angeles to his tiny apartment in Tempe, Arizona.

Claude had been reluctant about proposing to me. His therapist suggested he insert all my pros and cons into an Excel spreadsheet, so he asked me to do the same. Of course, I refused. His biggest hesitation was my messiness. I’m not dirty, but have piles of papers, books, shopping bags and clothes strewn all over. Claude is the opposite. The more empty a room, the better. 

I moved in and put all my furniture into storage. My clothes were kept on a clothing rack and a desk was set up in his living room where I could work remotely.  As the clutter started to get to him, I began to get annoyed because his late work hours would force me to be alone much of the time. Claude also snored. Loud. We started arguing about everything. Soon, we were questioning whether we should even get married.

We decided to see a couples therapist. There is often a stigma tied to couples therapy. A friend told me that your marriage is doomed if you start going to counseling before you’ve exchanged vows. But if that was the case, it was best to find out now.

Audrey had a cozy office with a big red couch. She had young children and often made references to how remarkable the Harry Potter series was. We discussed our fights (“I can’t stand Eunice’s piles,” “Claude is selfish – why do I have to leave the bed when he snores?”) and Audrey pooh-poohed them, saying that our bickering was normal. “You two are getting to know each other in a different context. Before, it was more exciting because Claude was visiting L.A. or Eunice was coming to Arizona. It was like a holiday. Now you are both in Claude’s space and that takes some getting used to.”

She suggested that I tidy up certain areas of the apartment and keep one section for clutter. She told Claude he should move to the living room when he snored. And we should schedule a date night every week.

“You two will be fine. At least you aren’t watching football all day like my husband while I’m at work.”

I bought earplugs. We got married. And now we have two young children who both snore.

By Eunice Park

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