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We’re happy to help. Below is an email exchange between a reader and our publisher, Susan B. Noyes, about the reality of making marriage work. The reader has agreed to share her story with everyone, but has asked to remain anonymous.
Some months ago I read something in Make It Better about somebody struggling in their
marriage and how, after a ton of hard work, the marriage was now better than ever. The comment
resonated with me because my husband and I have been struggling in our marriage for
some time. I told myself at the time that I was going to follow up with the writer and ask
if they would be willing to share the name of the marriage counselor, therapist, marriage
retreat, book, seminar – whatever it was they used to help them get back on track. I have
two small children (ages 3 and 5) and life overwhelmed me and I never followed up.
Here we are months later and my marriage is shakier than it was then. So I realized that I
need to follow up now, before we are too far gone.
If it was you that mentioned your marriage struggles, would you be willing to share what
you did to get to the great place you’re in now? I never imagined I’d ever be in this
position (I’m sure nobody really does) and the thought of receiving recommendations
from someone who has been there (and come out happily on the other side) would mean
the world to me. I would appreciate any tidbit of guidance you’d be comfortable sharing.
Thanks so much for publishing such a great magazine. I enjoy reading every issue and
usually end up tearing out 5-10 pages in each issue to follow up on!
OUCH! My heart goes out to you. I had six children under the age of 10 – the youngest
still nursing – when my marriage hit a painful, unexpected wall. I faced the very real
likelihood that my marriage would fail. I didn’t see it coming either. I needed help and I
needed it fast. First, I just cried to my friends. But a particularly wise one, who had
similarly struggled said I needed a professional and gave me the name of her highly
recommended therapist. She was right.
But a good therapist wasn’t all that I needed. I needed to do a lot of hard work on myself.
I used prayer, self help books, help from my family of origin and whatever else I could
find to help me fight through difficult days, focus on the good in my life each day and get
stronger within myself.
It was hard, but I also made sure that I didn’t make my kids feel bad about their
father. After all, they are 50 percent him.
I did make it clear to my husband that I thought he needed help, too, and I requested that
we also do marriage therapy. Those joint marriage therapy sessions are really tough,
because for them to work, you have to address festering wounds. But what doesn’t kill us,
makes us stronger. And fortunately, that is what happened in our marriage.
But, it might not have worked out that well. And because of the work I did on myself, I
was going to be better prepared to deal with life as a single mother.
Hope this helps. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.
Thanks for writing,
Susan B. Noyes
If you like this, you might also like:
Failing Up – June 2014 Publisher’s Letter which prompted the above letter ( please see pg. 20)
2011 Commencement Speech: Family Institute at Northwestern University– Susan’s advice to and about therapists and living a syncopated life