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23 Apr 2003

Divorce or is there another solution?
Dear CyberShrink,
My wife and I are writing this letter together, we need your skilled advice. We’ve known each other for five years and have been married for 5 months. Our troubles started the day we got engaged. My family, especially my mother, made it clear through their actions and hints that they had a problem with our relationship. My mother (I know now) is a very persuasive woman and she swayed my whole family to share her point of view and to act in the same manner. I’ve discussed the matter with them on several occasions, but they assured me that there’s no problem and that they supported my engagement. This caused me to back family’s actions whenever my fiancé tried to discuss the situation with me. A year after we got engaged, my family openly raised their objections to our relationship. My wife tried to reconcile my relationship with my family, but my mother became verbally abusive towards her, blaming her for everything that has happened. Up to now my wife and I have tried a couple of times to smooth things over, but my mother solely believed that my wife is to blame. This causes a lot of tension and major fights in our marriage. We are at the point where we are considering divorce as a possible solution to all of this…
Our questions:
1. How do you tell when you can still “help yourself” and when it is time to get professional help?
2. How do you know that a specific situation could be improved by getting professional help?
3. If people are really meant to be with each other, (like we believed before we got married) how is it possible for things to deteriorate to the state where you have to pay a person to show you how to patch things up?

We would appreciate your input.

Answer 367 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Hopeful Couple,
It sounds very sad that one vengeful person outside of the relationship should have been allowed to cause so much unhappiness through a stubborn refusal to allow her son to make his own choice of partner, and seems to be continuing to sabotage the relationship, as if it is far more important to her that she be proved right in her objections, than that you should be allowed to be happy. I suspect many people would consider it wiser to consider divorcing your mother, than your wife.
In response to your specific questions :
1. We all try to help ourselves deal with the problems of life, all the time, whether or not we recognize that we are doing so. But when you find your chosen solutions are not working, find it hard to make choices as to how to cope with the situation, and find yourselves contemplating giving up ( which divorce after only 5 months of marriage would represent ) --- isn't that time to get pofessional help ? There's no disgrace in doin so --- most of us readily ask for advice on the car, the washing machine, the TV, on almost every other area of life when it runs into problems. Why should our own most intimate happiness be declared a no-go zone, without recourse to expert help ?
2. You don't ever, in any situation including this one, get a cast-iron guarantee that professional help will solve all problems --- the TV repairman, the dentist and the lawyer can't do this either. But what one can generally rely on, is that, especially in a situation in which things could hadly get much worse, professional help can indeed help one to understand the situation more clearly, examine one's alternatives in more detail and more objectively, and to try different approaches, examining the effects of each intervention, so as to be able to choose the best available course of action, more rationally.
3. Any couple, however healthy, wealthy and wise, is capable of etting ino situations which they find hard to manage, especially when the situations are interfered with by malicious others. No-one is immune to such situations arising. And you're not, strictly, "paying someone else to show you how to patch things up". Someone wo has skill, knowledge, experience, and caring, can bring an invaluable perspective which no-one actually inside the problems can access alone. But what is often the case, is that the therapist works like a chemical catalyst, helping you to discover and reach solutions you might not have found entirely on your own, but without prescribing what must be done, or taking over the decision-making process.
Remember, at the absolute worst, from the point of view of the relationship, even if you eventually decide that divorce is indeed the best possible option, making such a decision after having both learned the maximum amount from what has happened, greatly increases your chances of avoiding making similar mistakes in the future, and of parting in a more friendly and more constructive manner. And, of course, having known each other for five years, it is surely pretty likely that your initial decision to marry, was the right one ; though your joint defences against outside interference may ned to be strengthened.
Do return to the forum later, in a fresh mesage, and let us know how you get on,
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