Books for Marriage Repair

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dear Dr. Gunzburg

Can you recommend books for marriage repair? We've been to 2 marriage counselors and both were a waste of our time and money (and we're short of both, especially the latter). When I met with the counselors alone EACH would say things like: "no one should put up with what you've had to", "it must have been SO hard for you", "you poor...", etc. But, when we would meet with them together the counselors both acted like no one was at fault and it went from "no one should put up with THAT" to "put up with that."

I see a lot of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) in my wife. She sometimes reminds me of the poor man's Leona Helmsley: rules are for the "little people" (like me) to follow, but not her. She wasn't always this way, but she was raised to "believe in herself", which, in practice, means that when your hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence) causes problems just crank up the hubris. Rinse. Repeat. Of course, you may think that I'm the narcissist. Fine. Refer me to someone who deals with the disorder, but I've really had enough of the approach that I've experienced so far. Telling my wife that no one's at fault has just made her more arrogant.

Since we're almost broke, are there any books for marriage repair out there that could maybe help us?

-Ex-Teacher in Maryland

Dear Ex-Teacher,

It is very important who you choose as a marriage therapist. There are many things to consider. Unfortunately, you experienced 2 misguided marriage counselors. The easiest way to counsel an individual and have that individual feel good about the counselor and the counseling is for the counselor to validate and thus encourage that individual's victim-hood. This is the situation you found yourself in.

The more difficult, and in my opinion more effective in the long-run, path is to help the individual understand his or her own participation in, and responsibility for, the problem situation.

It is self-management that makes the most effective difference in both individual counseling and in couples counseling. In my opinion, when a counselor takes the position that no one is at fault, then there is no one left who can fix the problem. However, fault-finding is a problem in itself and perhaps your counselor(s) were ineffectively trying to work with you on that issue. This seems to create a conundrum, doesn't it?

The answer is that both of you are "at fault" and you each need to learn to manage yourselves individually and together in order to repair your situation.

Although it is often difficult for one and sometimes for both partners to fully grasp this concept as applied to themselves, you created the problems together, almost like a team. After even only one spouse truly understands the full implication of this, I find there is usually a major turn-around in the relationship. I don't mean to say that the understanding in itself fixes the marital problems, but it creates a clear path and a sense of relief that there is a way out of these awful feelings.

Quite a few couples have worked this out using my books for marriage repair available at this link. Of course you understand that a self-help program does not have the power of direct intervention customized to your situation and personalities.

I wish you the best success in accepting and learning self-management to improve your marriage to be better than ever. Warm Regards.

If you want to work with me, I offer marriage counseling or marriage retreats in Maryland, to couples from all over the world. I am intentionally out-of-network for all insurance plans. My fees are based on $260 per hour, with a 45 minute session costing $195. I also have self-help programs available.

Tags: self help, save marriage, finding a therapist