Dear Dr. K

My husband and I are not getting along more and more. There have been a number of past hurtful situations that have left me feeling disrespected. So I forced him to go to therapy and tell the truth about his inexcusable behavior. Is it wrong for me to ask him? Now he tells me that he only tells his therapist his side of the arguments! He never shares what he did or said but only what I said! He says he has started to fess up. But does he really tell his therapist everything as he told me he has? How do I know he is being truthful about his behavior? I’m tired of his toxic drama.

Tired of Toxic Drama

Dear Tired,

As much as you’d like to be an arm chair quarterback in your husband’s individual therapy, it’s a losing proposition. As you point out, you’ll never know whether he gave the version of the argument that you would give, or have empathy for your position.

While it might be a great sign that your husband agreed to go for help, you now recognize that you have no idea whether he’s working on what YOU want him to work on. You can’t motivate someone to change, unless they see a need to. That is the problem with demanding a spouse sees a therapist: you don’t know whether they actually feel like they have to be the one to change.

Relationships require trust as a fundamental tenet. You are so distressed that you hope that HIS therapist will help turn your distress around. But his therapist doesn’t work for you. If your husband is as challenged as you describe, it might take a very long time for him to get the help he needs. You have to answer for yourself whether you want to wait around.

He may not believe that he actually needs therapy, and may be placating you by going. Or worse, he may be telling you things he’s said in therapy just to upset you.

Stop asking him to share his private clinical work. Of course you can ask him to get help, but that’s where your influence stops.

More importantly, read what you wrote: You don’t trust him. You consider his behavior toxic and you are tired of the drama. Is this the type of relationship you want to be in? A relationship where you feel disrespected and unheard?

If his behavior is intolerable to you, focus on that and only that. Then watch what he does, not what he says. Actions really do speak loudly, and it might be time for you to begin to focus not only on his but also on your own.

If you really do not believe you can trust him, you have an “arrangement” not a marriage. Give up trying to puppeteer your husband’s therapy, and start doing your own.

Thanks for writing.

Dr. K

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