The Chinese say: "Before marriage, keep eyes wide open; after marriage, keep half closed". But, we do the opposite. During dating and in the first to second years of marriage, we keep them closed. This time of naivete that will lead to disaster has a nice name in the psychology books. It's known as "the honeymoon period". Aauuhh. Next comes what I call the "Why did I marry this person, biggest mistake of my life" stage. Isn't it comforting to know that, according to experts, all marriages go through this second stage?
Marital counseling can improve a marriage, but many people claim they can't find a good counselor. One lady saw a psychologist that was almost bald and he combed what little hair he had the whole therapy hour. Then she went to another doctor that was really short. His furniture was tiny and uncomfortable. Still another example is the therapist whose waiting room looked scary. It was long, narrow and dimly lit, with posters of Dali's melting clocks along the walls.
But there are good marital counselors. One Christian couple I know, now happily married, at one point quarreled because of differences in age. The first two counselors they saw did not understand them. Finally, the third one was able to help them. That's how tenacious you need to be- as persistent as Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence funding.
Another reason for not receiving marriage counseling is the complaint, "My husband won't go and he's the problem." For instance, "He invested our IRA in turbo baby carriages that were later recalled, but he won't listen to me." Or "My wife refuses to see a psychiatrist. She won't let me leave footprints on the carpet and arranges my fries in order of size before I can eat."
But, if a marital counselor is good, he or she would help even if only one partner goes to therapy. That is because often by changing yourself you can change other's reactions to you and that in turn changes your response to them, thereby making a new pattern. It is like a dance. If you are tired of the same tango with your spouse and you do a foxtrot, it won't be possible for your partner to do a tango anymore. 'On the other hand it won't look like a foxtrot either', you might wonder. But the partner who changes is the one who leads.
It really does not matter if it is the man or the woman leads. During Biblical times a man could get a divorce if he said his wife burned the eggs, but women could not divorce. I picture a Hebrew before a judge claiming, "My wife commits adultery. She waters down the grasshopper stew". Now we have equal rights. Women can be as indifferent as men since both can divorce easily. As one pastor says, some women would complain even if they had a perfect husband: "Jesus, you can't eat fish for breakfast!" But instead of being equally indifferent, either man or woman can lead by getting counseling and perhaps save the marriage.