The room is modern. The walls are neutral. There is a white noise machine on the floor to drown out the noise of other conversations. Books about marriage, relationships, sex and communication line the bookshelves. As I sit down on the white IKEA couch, I feel like my world is ending. When the therapist asks, “So tell me about what brought you here,” I cannot stop the tears from spilling.
It is not important nor fair to share the specifics of why my husband and I ended up in therapy, but the reality was, there we sat on that IKEA couch, both of us sharing why we felt we were there. We were holding hands, but we felt worlds apart. It was one day specifically that made us realize we needed help, but it was years of neglecting our most important relationship as a married couple that led us to this room.
It was years of not having date nights. It was years of not having important conversations. It was years of the same arguments over and over. It was years of ignoring important issues in our relationship. It was years of bottled up emotions. It was years of focusing on our daughter and our careers. It was years of not realizing what was important to each other. It was years of excuses. It was years of neglecting us.
I have heard marriage compared to exercise or a muscle. How true this is. Years of not working at our marriage led it to atrophy. Our marriage was broken and seemingly beyond repair before we asked for help. In the end, we did seek therapy, but it was not pretty.
There were days on end when I did not sleep. I lost my appetite completely. I could not focus. Some days I wanted to leave. I wondered how many more tears I could cry. Our broken relationship was all I could think about.
This was not an overnight decision, but what made us want to try therapy was remembering how much we loved each other. This included how to trust and communicate with each other all over again. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it. We are learning how to reconnect and love each other on a whole new level. Some days aren’t fun, but marriage is work. Hard work.
And every week or every other week, as we sit on that IKEA couch, I am reminded that the hard work and difficult conversations are becoming worth it. The problems we faced did not appear overnight, and the work involved to get our marriage back on track is not going to happen overnight. It has become clear through our time in therapy that my husband and I need to continue to commit to ourselves, our relationship and our marriage. It is a continual, daily investment of time, love and sacrifice.
To the moms who can relate to my story, I would like you to know that you are not alone. Sitting in a therapist’s office with my husband was the last place I thought I would ever be, but I learned that it’s okay to admit that my relationship needs help. I do not see it as a sign of weakness, but rather strength. It shows strength to not ignore the problem and another kind of strength to ask for help when all you want to do is give up. Being mothers is so important and vital to our families, but the foundation is strong relationships with our significant others. Work with all you have to keep that foundation strong.