Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happily Ever After vs. The Marriage Counselor

Has anyone else read this article on The Huffington Post: Do As I Say, Not As I Do? Turns out, even the relationship experts don't always know the right path through hard times in a marriage. Marriage counselor, Sharyn Wolf, writes that while she was selling books about dating and building a successful relationship (even offering insight on the Oprah Winfrey show mulitple times), she was one-half of a failing marriage. Say what?

When my marriage fell apart, I felt like a failure. I was embarrassed. I would hear of other friends overcoming hard times in their own marriage and think, why couldn't I do that? What was wrong with me that I couldn't overcome difficulties as well? Seeing "marriage experts" on television only emboldened my sense of defeat. Yep! I it was my fault that things fell apart. A bad marriage is completely fixable if only you do the "correct" things.


Here I am, a number of years beyond my husband telling me he wanted out. I'm in a new relationship, I have a new sense of myself and feel like I've finally come out the other side of all that badness. And now - now(!) - I hear about this "relationship expert's" failed marriage? My first thoughts were: liar! Fraud! Where was this admission when I needed to hear it most?

Then I realized that my condemnation probably wasn't fair. I remembered that when my relationship was falling apart, it wasn't only a feeling of failure I experienced - I also felt shame. I walked around feeling shame that my husband and I couldn't stick it out. I've talked to other people who went through breakups and they too felt a sense of shame surrounding their coupling crash. Why would I assume that a "relationship expert" would be any different? In fact, she may have felt even worse. How hard must it have been to promote yourself as a meastro of marriage while you're own relationship is tanking. Indeed, she writes "...I was counseling my patients with the principles from my book, and they were thriving--leaving therapy to go on with their lives. They kept getting better while my marriage kept getting worse. I felt like a fraud..."

Big oy.

Isn't it time we all embrace marriage as a joint effort between two people to do the very best they can to build and maintain a thriving relationship? Doesn't that sound so much more active and realistic than happily ever after? Perhaps if we all took a step back from happily ever after we'd all realize that even a relationship expert might succumb to two people's best still not being good enough.

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