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Woman shares disturbing saga; 'I think our marriage counselor turned us against each other.' AITA? UPDATED 4 YRS LATER

Woman shares disturbing saga; 'I think our marriage counselor turned us against each other.' AITA? UPDATED 4 YRS LATER


When this woman is convinced that her marriage counselor is trying to ruin her marriage, she asks the internet:

"I think our marriage counselor turned us against each other. AITA? + 4 year update"

My husband of seven months and I had a rough time after we got married when he came back from military deployment. Screaming matches, ED, resentment from deployment, me feeling unattractive, etc.

We went to a military-funded marriage counselor for about two months before the therapist suddenly disappeared saying he was getting transferred. Said he'd continue seeing us once a week but suddenly his phone number changed and we had no idea what happened. We just stop counseling altogether due to scheduling issues.

Our last session was around February or so. I thought the marriage counseling helped as we'd be doing better or so I thought, but apparently my husband is still unhappy, albeit for other reasons now. Our bedroom life still sucks, and I feel horribly unwanted and undesirable despite being fit and attractive.

We had a fight last night and finally the substance of our individual counseling came out for the first time -- We were shocked to say the least.

So we'd had both individual and couples counseling. We'd meet around once a week as a couple and would alternate weeks individually.

It came out last night: the counselor had been telling us individually that the problem was all the others' fault. He gave us both some of the same story but with some differences: he told us each that the other was being very closed off and defensive, and not wanting to open up or discuss issues.

That we were each blaming the other. This was while I was openly sharing with him my abandonment and anger issues and feeling insecure in the bedroom, and providing him with background info from my previous therapy sessions with other counselors.

My husband claims he would try to offer stories from his past as well, but that the counselor would actually cut him off and say he wasn't the problem.

He told my husband privately I may have BPD and likely needed mess. This coincides chronologically with my husband out of nowhere yelling at me during arguments that I needed medication.

I asked our counselor if I should see a specialist after these fights, whether I really was showing these signs, and said honestly that I would seed more intensive help if he thought it would help our marriage.

He laughed at my husband in individual sessions saying there was nothing wrong with me, that my husband was deflecting by trying to diagnose me. "Does he think he's a psychiatrist??" He would laugh.

He told me privately my husband was emotionally and sexually underdeveloped and would never have a healthy relationship, sexually or emotionally, with anyone without serious change.

That I should move on. That he was not willing to change or admit to any issues and would run from all conflict. That each time the counselor tried to broach issues, my husband would clam up and get defensive.

That he didn't know what it truly meant to be married and that he suspected there was something deeply rooted in my husbands' past that was the root of all our problems.

That my husband just needed more therapy. (note: we weren't paying for therapy. We got it free due to military benefits). He told me I was very smart and attractive and deserved a partner more on "my level".

My husband reports the counselor told him there was nothing wrong with him, that he was very mature and intelligent and all our problems stemmed from my psychosis.

The aftermath: I am horrified by how many of our fights after the beginning of counseling were colored by his statements. I was treating my husband like a 13 year old boy and my husband kept telling me I needed psychiatric treatment.

Our marriage has actually improved much after this time, but I Now believe it's because I worked on my anger issues and gave my husband the benefit of the doubt, while my husband became a better communicator in arguments.

My husband now has different issues with our marriage, but we are both still reeling from our conversation about the counselor last night And wondering what kind of harm it may have caused.

I don't really know what I'm asking here. I had insomnia all night about this and I just don't know what to do.

EDIT: direct question: should I report the counselor? And what are suggestions for how to move forward with my husband in this?

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the comments/OP's responses:

tldr: Marriage counselor told each of us the marriage problems were all the fault of the other. Told us separately that I was a psychotic bitch, and that he was the emotional/sexual equivalent of a 13 year old boy. Wondering how much harm this has caused, unsure what to do.

Man, that is some Dr. Lecter nonsense. I hope you can get his license yanked!Jesus, what the f is wrong with this guy. His job is to fix relationships, he is doing the exact opposite. This is something out of an M Night Shamalyan film. What would happen during the joint sessions? How did he manage to maintain the two sides of the story simultaneously?

OP replies:

He would request an update of our status since last meeting. We would both give our perspectives on the latest fight, or on why we thought we resolved an issue successfully.

Then he would provide suggestions. But a lot of it seemed fluffy. I always resented him not confronting my husband on his issues, and I now know my husband was angry the counselor wasn't suggesting I get evaluated for BPD.

Honestly, I did have issues with rage and he didn't help me at all even when I tried to bring them up individually. I read a lot of self help books specific to managing anger, and did a lot of introspection and practiced techniques on calming down.

I also read some books on marriages. Our relationship has improved greatly, but I think it's because both my husband and I did a lot of self help. I have no idea what couples incapable of such introspection and self awareness would have done with someone like him.

strangesecret writes:

By law arent therapist suppose to keep notes or recordings of each session?

OP replies:

There were no notes. He explained it was all kept confidential as per military policy. This made sense to me at the time, because a lot of military veterans don't want documentation that might hurt their careers, and such, so he explained it as a policy issue meant to encourage soldiers to attend counseling instead of bottling it all up.

OP adds:

I feel so stupid. I felt like something was off. I didn't include this in my post, but he would propose strategies for getting my husband to "come out of his shell" at the next joint session, but he wouldn't follow through. My husband says he said the same thing to him, and would be flabbergasted at joint sessions when the counselor did a 180 on him.

maevarty writes:

I too once went to a military counselor on base with my ex husband. He was really nice and we did the same thing alternating joint and separate visits. Mine did sorta the same thing, agreed with me that much of the trouble was my husbands fault so who knows what he was saying to him.

Our joint ones were never very good cuz we always had our 2 yr old with us cuz I could never find a sitter during the day. So most of the time was the counselor telling my husband he didn't have patience for her etc cuz if we would start...

arguing she would get in between us and try and "help" as all 2 yr olds do and he would snap at her in response. So eventually my ex felt he was getting ganged up on and hated going.

But suddenly things turned for the better. He started being sweet, patient and just nicer in general. We were fighting less and everything. So I thought things were working and things were great. My counselor also was getting orders...his to AZ. So we stopped going.

A few months later he gets a 19 yr old gf that he worked with (who ps was also married but to a marine) and left me and my daughter taking the only car and debit card (which is a whole other story).

I was devastated and completely blind sided. Turns out he was faking it all. He hated going to the counselor and thought that maybe if he faked it he would eventually love me again.

Which apparently was something the counselor suggested. That seeing us getting along and happy again would bring back old emotions and remind us of what we had blah blah. Well he gave it like 3 months before he said fk it I'll just leave her for someone else.

I don't recommend the counselors on base to anyone unless they really need it lol.

bossz writes:

This same exact thing happened to me with my ex. We weren't meant to be regardless, and the relationship was far past broken before we set foot in a counselor's office, but yes; same thing. It has left a very, very bad taste in my mouth for LMHCs...

as I have had a great number of bad experiences with them in childhood and adulthood. I am not currently in need of treatment, but if I was to go for mental health services again, I would only go to see a clinical psychologist.

They are the only people I have met that actually give you "work" to do and practical tasks to actually change your life. Again, this has only been my experience.

I am sorry to all you LMHCs, as I am sure, as with everything, a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. I am sure there are many, many of you who help people. The LMHCs I have had experiences with are, I think, working far beyond their scope and taking money to be a brick wall or (as with this worst case scenario) a manipulator.

And now, OP's big update, 4 years later:

So this is an update more than... Three years later? I hope this is allowed. I used a throwaway and don't remember my password.

A lot happened since then and it occurred to me that maybe I should post an update in case anyone here was around for that.

Summary: I was the wife who was seeing a marriage counselor with my husband. Both jointly and individually. Things were only getting worse and worse and it was only after a blow up fight that my husband and I compared notes and realized the counselor had been feeding each of us lies.

Counselor was telling me that my husband was emotionally 12 years old and would never be capable of a relationship (while reassuring my husband all was well with him). Meanwhile, he was telling my husband I had borderline personality disorder and needed medication.

When my husband started accusing me of being mentally ill, I brought this up to the counselor who then began making fun of my husband for saying such a thing ("Does he think he's a psychiatrist or something?" He actually laughed.) Counselor reassured me that I was a "beautiful and intelligent woman" and would do great once I left my husband.

The counselor (who was provided by the military through their family services) ended up being transferred a few weeks after we discovered this. We couldn't figure out if he got canned for abusing some other couple, if he retired, or some other shenanigan.

Well. Fast forward to today. My husband and I are doing great now. We went on a vacation, both of us changed jobs, moved, and we are very happily married now four years later. We travel, adopted a couple of kitties, and bought a house in a place we both love.

How we got here: We both read some self-help books. Started giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Got better at communicating. I left my super high stress job, he changed careers, and everything sort of did a 180.

(Funny enough. My old job had been killing me and when I'd mentioned to counselor that I thought maybe I should find another job, since it was so dysfunctional, he protested against it.)

My husband and I did not report him at the time. We were concerned he would retaliate against my husband in some way, as my husband was in the armed forces for a year and a half after all this. I am embarrassed that we did not report him.

We were scared and overwhelmed. I am considering calling that base's family services now and filing an official report. Not sure if it'll matter, so much time has passed.

That's... That's all really. You all were such a great help then, I thought I might as well post this in case anyone around here remembered.

Update 2 (around the same time):

OP here. It's hard but I actually ended up seeing another (licensed and well reviewed) therapist when I lost someone very important to me. This counselor was WONDERFUL and really helped me.

I did my research and paid out of pocket for her. She was an angel and worth every penny. I think finding a good therapist is a lot like dating. There are some crazies, some assholes, and some you just don't click with. Also, maybe you get what you pay for and Dr. Lecter was free with the military....

It really would. The ONE good thing Dr. Lecter did was tell me, "Your husband says some stupid things in arguments - he doesn't actually mean to hurt you."

This blew my mind because, as someone very good with words, I couldn't understand how someone could say such hurtful things without harboring malice. But I followed his advice and was more patient when my husband would say something ridiculous.

Also, finding a new job helped me a ton. I didn't recognize how much of a nervous wreck I was thanks to that God-forsaken office. I became much more even-keeled overnight. This did wonders.

I've thought a lot about it. I think he was honestly at the end of his career and decided we were both good people with personal issues that brought out the worst in each other.

My hypothesis is he didn't want to do the work and figured he'd just get us to break up and move on with our lives - rather than take months to get us to realize we were just incompatible. But yeah. I decided to call the base Monday and report.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's udpates:

fasgaw writes:

I've worked in mental health for the past 15 or so years. To further my own person resilience and understanding I took an intro to counselling course - not with the purpose of being a counsellor but to develop some insight in managing difficult conversations and what not.

As part of the course we had a session dedicated to 'unethical counsellors' where they discussed counsellors who in are in the role for their own personal gratification (you could argue that we all are but anyway I digresss...).

These unethical counsellors could include counsellors who have blurred their own boundaries, have saviour complexes or those who purposefully try to meddle and control their clients.

They did reiterate that it's not everyone, and I think it was more to get us to think about our reasons for being on the course but it definitely opened my eyes.

faer50 writes:

Honestly terrible to know this can happen. Relationships are hard, even the best ones. To think a therapist could sow such discontent is wild.

My partner and I have been together over twelve years. Neither of us learned in our childhood how to fight fair and reach middle ground.

We've never done therapy together but have somehow in our relationship learned how to communicate and disagree fairly. Not perfectly by any means, but we often reflect on how crazy and lucky it is we've managed it when many couples we've know haven't.

But, moral of the story, I think a lot of people can and could get through their differences if they learn to communicate on the same wavelength. To hear a person who is supposed to be coaching those skills actively sabotage them instead is truly disgusting. So glad the couple managed to grow and get closer despite it.

catmocatmo writes:

And this right here is why people refuse therapy. Whether they refuse to never to try it in the first place, or whether they try it, quit, and say NEVER AGAIN!

Obviously, this happens even when people have a good therapist but they just don’t quite mesh well together. But to have someone who maliciously tried to sabotage your life and marriage, is a sure fire way to break any trust you had in the system.

What sucks too is, in this case, they didn’t really realize this therapist sucked so much ass because he fluffed their egos individually. At least when you don’t mesh with a therapist, or it’s obvious they aren’t being effective, it’s more apparent and you can remove yourself from their care.

And since the whole premise of therapy (the medical profession as a whole actually) is based on trust, it seems extra abhorrent that he would do that to them.

I guess it’s a good lesson to keep in mind. Therapists and counselors are people too. There’s always going to be shitty, selfish, jackasses in every profession, and there’s always going to be ones that you just won’t feel comfortable with.

If there’s a doubt, move along. It might be difficult to find another, but in a situation like this, not going is better than sticking it out.

elementalsurprise writes:

In case anyone needs to know what to watch for, from a therapist: a counselor seeing both people in the relationship and them for couples counseling. Ideally you should each have a separate counselor then a different for couples counseling. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow for this but as much as possible this is the best option.

telling you what the other person said in their session. Absolutely not. Confidentiality and all that.

not listening to things and flat out saying “you’re not the problem”. There are better and gentle ways of saying you aren’t the problem but they need to hear the story fist

“diagnosing” other people without meeting them specifically for diagnosis

saying your partner will never develop past 14. I have said “it sounds like there could be some work on maturity” but that’s it

bad mouthing your partner. I have said “given the information you have given me I don’t think they’re worth your time” but only with a long term client and only using examples that the client gave themself.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for her? What would YOU have done in this situation?

Sources: Reddit
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