Loose Lips Sink Relationships

October 4, 2011


My husband and I are in marriage counseling. We’re trying to work things through, but it’s hard. I want to keep things private, between us. He has been telling everyone in his family that we are in counseling. I don’t think that is helping. What guidelines are there for this? -On The Rocks

There’s no official rule book here. People’s comfort levels with broadcasting their participation in counseling run the gamut, from keeping it secret from their spouses for many decades to discussing the ins and outs of it with the lady who rang them up at Target.

But with couples counseling, ideally, there’s a united front, and going with the more conservative common denominator makes sense — especially if boundaries with his family are something you’re working on in therapy. But be willing to listen to why it’s important to him to talk about it with other people, and whether you risk cutting him off from significant emotional support. It’s also worth exploring whether you are unduly embarrassed about needing some help or overly concerned about crafting a falsely perfect image of your marriage. Therapy is a good arena for working this out, too.

 Smoking Out Another Problem

As for the pot-smoking husband [from the Sept. 6 column], I think the friend and you missed an important reason for her friend to not go out. She is afraid to leave her children home alone with the loser, stoner husband. I would be, too! -No Name

Good point, no doubt. But I was by no means endorsing his pot-smoking. In fact, I actively condemned it! But it wasn’t him writing in, or even his wife — it was his wife’s friend. And the best way for her to keep the relationship strong with her friend — and thereby have more leverage later trying to get her friend to realize how bad things seem to be — is not to lecture about Just Saying No.

Plus, the chronic pot-smoking might be a symptom of something more important, such as depression or severe social anxiety, and not much good will come from focusing on it alone.

As for her being afraid to leave her children at home with her husband, she already does just that, for dozens of hours per week (he’s a stay-at-home dad). An extra hour or two with a supportive friend who can help her sort things out is a small price to pay.

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