Giving a f*ck

I need to find a marriage counselor and make an appointment.

I don’t really want to.

I’m so tired of working on my marriage. So, so tired. It’s just hard to give a fuck anymore, you know? I mean, how many fucks should I be expected to give.

All the fucks. I should be willing to give all the fucks when my marriage is at stake. I know this.

Honestly, if I had the name and number of someone I would call. Today. I would do the intake interview and make the appointment and tell my husband when and where to be.

But I don’t have a name, and I don’t know where to start looking for one. It’s not an easy thing to get a referral for. It’s not something you ask your friends about, you know? Not that I mind admitting we’re having problems, but it puts people in an awkward place because it assumes they have had problems themselves.

Of course my husband and I could look together, but I guarantee you if I bring it up tonight my husband will sigh deeply, participate resentfully, and communicate how frustrated he is to be spending his limited and precious free time looking for marriage counselors with everything except his actual words. Is it even worth enduring that negativity? I should just suck it up and do it myself.

Ironically, that cycle of my avoiding his negativity, doing it myself and then feeling resentful about having to do it myself is a big part of why we’re going to counseling.

We’re both so tired, it’s genuinely hard to give a fuck. Especially when we’re so good at just getting through the days without actually getting upset at each other. Things aren’t even bad right now, but the minute something starts to chafe, we’ll be back at it again.

Which is why I need to find a marriage counselor. I guess I’ll do that today.


    1. My husband is willing to go, begrudgingly, but he would be super annoyed to spend his precious Friday night down time looking for someone. He hates that kind of planning work, which is why I always do it, and he has no real understanding of how much time and mental energy it requires.

      1. Thank you. It’s actually much better then where we were a few months ago, but I’d like to avoid falling back into that place again.

        I don’t know anyone who has ever gone to marriage counseling. And I have very close friends who are open about infertility, frustrations with children, etc. I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s hard not to feel that way.

        I read recently about a survey that showed that liberals in their 30s and 40s are very supportive of having children outside of marriage but very critical of divorce. I have been thinking about this a lot. Trying to figure out where it comes from.

        1. You never know people are going to marriage counseling, but then all of the sudden they are getting divorced.

          Maybe people don’t feel as comfortable talking about bumpy parts in their marriages because another person is involved, and you CANNOT talk about having trouble in your marriage without talking about your spouse. That might be why it’s such a taboo subject. Or maybe it’s just our protestant culture. 😉

          1. This is why I don’t blog about our issues, but I will comment freely about them since my comments don’t draw an audience. Brian has asked me not to blog about him and blogging about our issues includes him, so I don’t do it. I save out for comments and text chats. I’ll tell you EVERYTHING if we text (as you know. Ha!).

        2. I think it really depends on the circumstances for having children outside of marriage. I am supportive of single parenting by choice, but I am really, really leery of the idea of bringing a child into a relationship where one or both people don’t want to actually get married. I think it’s super risky for the lower-earning person, in particular. I don’t want to sound judgey, but there are a lot of different scenarios that could be called “having children outside of marriage” and I have very disparate attitudes towards them.

          I think it’s also because many people in their 30s and 40s are adult children of divorce and are learning that even an “amicable” divorce is really burdensome and difficult, especially as one’s parents become elderly. People in my socioeconomic circles are much less likely to have personal experience with being a child deliberately conceived outside of marriage. In divorce, the child has to go through the divorce with all its conflict and upheaval and financial damage. In non-married childbearing, there isn’t necessarily going to be a major relationship problem or major lifestyle change involved.

          1. So, I found the article and I completely misremembered it! It’s Americans as a whole are more critical of divorce, despite growing acceptance of less traditional families, but more so among highly educated Americans (funny that I confused that with liberal). And the article wasn’t about divorce with kids. Just divorce. I think what you are saying about divorce being hard on kids which is why people want to avoid it makes sense. But I think there is something else there — people seem to have very high standards for themselves and their peers. Not much forgiveness when people make mistakes. Maybe it’s the same impulse that drives a lot of the competitive parenting I see.

            1. Divorce is a really recent cultural phenomenon, only becoming somewhat normal within the last 50 years or so, and people in their 30’s and 40’s are the very first generation where it happened on a widespread basis. I think that has a lot to do with why that age group reacts so negatively to the idea of divorce.

              I am part of that group. My parents divorced in the early 80’s when I was five. They had a very good divorce. They put their differences aside and always put their children first, which was not super common at the time. Most divorces from that time period were very acrimonious and fathers often had very limited contact with their children, sometimes due to their own volition and other times because the court standard was to limit their contact.

              Anecdotally, judging by the divorces of my peers with kids, things have really changed for the better. 50/50 physical custody is standard now. The focus is heavily on the kids and their well-being. No one seems to be jumping into new relationships right away or starting new families. Not to be all “divorce, yay, it’s fun everyone is doing it!!!” but I do think that we as a society can and have gotten better at divorce and that we can’t really compare what divorce was like 30 or 40 years ago to what it is today.

              1. I dunno, I think even modern divorce is still pretty bad for everyone. My parents divorced in the mid-90s and I’m in my mid-30s. They did everything they were supposed to do for a “good” divorce and it’s still quite burdensome on me. I really dislike having to do separate visiting now that I have small kids of my own– it’s a ton of extra time and money and my kids get less time with their grandparents. But more importantly, as they get older, I’ve had to step up into a major caregiving role for each of them simultaneously. If they were married they would do a lot of this stuff for each other. Their divorce seemed pretty ok when I was in my 20s and early 30s, but now I can see the writing on the wall– things are getting harder as they age, and the worst is yet to come.

                Of course, this situation is compounded by the financial impact of divorce. No litigation, just the cost of maintaining separate households for decades means they have a lot less saved. This impact is also ongoing– nobody says “Oh, your parents’ divorce is amicable? We’ll only charge you for one room at the retirement home instead of two.”

            2. Well, I think the breaking up of families whether it’s divorce in a marriage or breakage in a non-married couple – – is hard on kids. I don’t see how not getting married is going to make it easier on the kids when you break up. You likely still have to go through court to determine custody etc. You’re still moving to different houses and the kids have to shuttle back-and-forth. Etc. etc.

              1. I think people are comparing being married and then divorcing, vs. never living like a married couple at all. So like a single woman who has a male friend donate sperm but it’s never a marriage-like relationship, so there’s nothing to transition out of.

  1. ” I mean, how many fucks should I be expected to give.”. That is the question, isn’t it? I’m not of the, “give all the fucks,” mind because maybe you just don’t want to. Maybe you just need things to coast for a bit, and that’s not giving all the fucks.

    I called once I was so angry that I couldn’t think positive thoughts about Brian. Isn’t that terrible? I’d had a friend who’d been through it before me and she gave me the name and number and kept on me until I called. I needed that.

    1. That is the question, and so articulately posed! 😉

      I have not gotten to the point that I can’t think positive thoughts about my husband, but I have had some days where I can’t quite articulate what I actually love about him. I mean, I think he is a good person, but I don’t really feel in love with him a lot of the time right now. I don’t know if that is something to be alarmed about, or if it’s normal when the reality of raising two smaller kids is wearing two parents down. Sometimes I think coasting is fine, but other times I think apathy will lead to our eventual divorce. I’m honestly not sure what I should be doing anymore.

  2. K and I went once. Like, to one appointment. It was about 10 years ago, and neither of us liked the woman. I remember her saying “you really haven’t been married very long! These are very minor problems.” Who the hell says that?!? Besides, as we are married longer and have larger problems, it becomes harder to convince him to go.

    Then I tried to go to a marriage counselor by myself. I went to her once and couldn’t stand her either, so I switched to a regular therapist, for just me, and that helps.

    1. this is exactly what we did. we went once, hated it, and then I started going to my own therapist. it helps, but at some point she always has to recommend that we go to couple’s therapy because there is only so much I can do on my own when he’s the one who’s the problem (kidding! sort of…)

    2. My husband and I have been before, but every time it was to resolve a specific issue, so once that issue was resolved we stopped going (like if we were going to have kids, if we were going to have a second kid–see a theme?!) It is much harder to motivate now that it’s just general communication issues. It will be harder to determine if the therapy is helping, or if it will really change anything in the long term, if there isn’t a specific issue to resolve. I think that is why I’m more ambivalent about going now–one minute I think we have to, the next I think it will be a waste of time and money, neither of which we have a ton of.

      1. I think you have to go. You can’t afford to divorce. Seriously, I have no clue how you would afford it. Even if your husband doesn’t help at all with the household and the kids, you’re way ahead with his financial contribution.

  3. Is there a local mom’s group/list serve? I see questions like this being asked in our local listerve. I tried to find one just by looking through our insurance list & then googling a few to see websites/pictures. It didn’t work—I didn’t click with her—and it was painful. Another option is to just find names of bigger practices in your area, those that have 15+ therapists associated with them, specializing in all different things. That was how I found my current therapist.
    I so agree about running out of fucks to give. This is sort of what keeps us going…I’m too exhausted in every way to even muster up time to complain or ask for more. I don’t think its a good way to go about it though…apathy seems like a very dangerous thing in a marriage. Oh well, I’ll worry about that some other time.

    1. Yes this is what I was going to say. There is a local FB group that I am a part of for Chicago Moms and people can ask questions (anon if necessary)- if there is something like that for your area that could be a good resource.

    2. I’ve also met with people I didn’t click with before. I think that is part of my apathy–I know how hard it is to find someone we will both like. And that is also why I feel so paralyzed with these first steps, I know it may all be for naught.

  4. I’m not in your area nor is the counselor we saw (David), but I’ve heard good things about The Couples Center.

    And it’s too bad friends don’t talk about this stuff more. Because you’re not alone in this stuff and the falicy we present that everything is easy and always well always does more harm than good.

    Get a list together than hold your husband to his original acknowledgement of needing counseling. Don’t let him put all of this on you. Because it should be all on you.

  5. I hear you…
    I am going to be totally honest here. My husband is a good dad and the kids love him. That’s the main reason I am (still) married. Otherwise, he usually feels like yet another person who wants/expects stuff from me. We don’t have a bad marriage, we don’t fight, and he’s pretty supportive of me and my work, and a good dad. So I don’t have a good reason to bail, except that I don’t feel I love him most of the time, and I mostly want to just be left the fuck alone.

    I tried counseling, didn’t really work. I guess I don’t have real problems except that I am a restless asshole, which I totally accept. And that I am possibly irreversibly out of love, which would be sad if I cared enough. It’s not like I would want to be married to anyone else, I just want to not be needed by people 24/7.

    What helps is that I am committed to work and have re-committed to some old hobbies/passions and I am planning to expand on them. Just do stuff for me.

  6. Do either of you have access to an Employee Assistance Program? A lot of times you can get 5 free visits per person to an in-network person. A lot of organizations offer this benefit above and beyond health benefits. And it comes with referrals (not sure how helpful they are, though; mostly they are therapists who bill EAP).

    I’m sorry you’re in a rough patch…

  7. We’ve done marital therapy twice, one time for around five months and then again with a different therapist for a month. I found the experiences and both therapists to be unhelpful at really identifying and addressing the more fundamental disconnects in the marriage. Both therapists were hyper-focused on this idea that better communication solves everything and I simply don’t agree. Better communication is good, but it can be a bit of a lipstick-on-a-pig solution for couples who are experiencing more serious structural problems.

    Have you ever read the book Hold Me Tight? I’m generally a self-help book hater, but this is one marriage book I’ve read that I find compelling. The author does a really good job of describing the root causes of deeper, more troublesome problems that couples face and how they should be addressed. It’s supposedly a variant of emotionally focused therapy. Look into it and if it is compelling to you try and find an emotionally focused therapist who can apply some of the techniques described in the book.

  8. Yep. I get this all too well. It’s hard to pick the necessary battles when you’re exhausted and busy fighting child and career battles so relationship feels like it isn’t worth the energy. I’d say it is worth the energy and we’ve been happier when we work on our relationship even a tiny bit. Keep plugging along and I hope you find a decent therapist miraculously quickly that your insurance covers.

  9. We went through couples therapy and it worked for the most part. For us, talking to one another helps. The whole reason we had to go into therapy was, avoidance.
    I agree, look into EAP where your employer may help you with some sessions, free to you. And sadly, that’s how I got The Hubs to go…it was free (for 8 sessions)…whatever works, right.
    Hang in there. Don’t let this totally fall on you. Pick some therapists out, let him help choose one and go from there. Maybe it’ll feel less overwhelming to him & he won’t be so damn unwilling.
    And can I add, he’s one lucky guy to have you. I don’t know how you put up with him sometimes (sorry, uncalled for but yeah)

  10. My therapist recommends going to marriage counseling but we really don’t have that extra time. For now, it’s been more helpful to carve out fun couple time because those happier memories help to defuse negative thoughts (a little). I also try to focus on good things he does and actually acknowledge him for it. It’s hard because I felt like I was the only one doing this for a long, long time; however, I think this helps to make him act kinder toward me, too.

  11. Do you go on date nights? I know it may seem kind of trivial but I think that is one thing that has really helped my relationship with my husband. We still have lots of communication issues and I am still so tired and so frustrated with him a lot of the time. But if we go out on a date, even once a month, it really changes my mood and helps me remember why I love him. It makes it easier to give more fucks. We did counseling too for a while and I still really think it would do us good, but I did not like the woman we saw. And we’re too busy focusing on trying to help our son right now to go for ourselves. I’m having the same time picking someone for our son though. I don’t feel comfortable asking for a recommendation for him. It’s just so depressing admitting that he’s struggling. So I definitely feel you on that.

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