Monday, December 04, 2006

An investment of a sort

Tonight, she and I will be returning for a dual session with the therapist. We have, more than a few times, buried the hatchet in whatever conflict happened to make one or both of us furious and sworn that we really ought to see someone, i.e., marriage counselor, but we never really got anywhere until recently. The problem is that our insurance doesn't pay for family issues, so the question was: If we're going to pay out of pocket, who do we want to see? She managed to get a recommendation from a coworker for a guy who has some experience with MS couples, so we went last Monday for a session.

Of course, the first session doesn't really go anywhere, mostly just getting-to-know-you-and-your-marital-issues. I think C. even surprised herself when she was in tears after the first question, to wit: "So what do you hope to get out of counseling?" She went first, saying something about some suggestions for managing conflict, which went fine, but then I said something about how I wasn't really expecting to get advice, but just an opportunity to talk thru some things, especially since I really don't have many (any?) close relationships in which I'd feel comfortable bringing up marital stuff. And that was enough.

See, my wife has this extraordinary capacity for empathy, and what I said was enough to make her feel, all at once, all of the sudden, the isolation and loneliness that I've often felt not just with MS but even before as a guy who perceives himself to lack great social skills. And I sorta sat there for a while thinking about how it felt to feel her feel my pain. (The therapist seems to like to interact with one person at a time, leaving the other to listen and think.) Anyway, it seemed like we were done pretty quickly, and just that brief experience I think gave us enough empathy to have a week in which we really enjoyed each other's company.

But there is the small matter of the fee: $120 for an hour, which ain't exactly pocket change. For a couple days afterward, we talked about whether we felt like it was worth $120 an hour to go back for more sessions in the future. As an avowed cheapskate, I felt like maybe we could have found someone better, even though we'd only been to see this guy once. C. agreed that $120 would multiply rapidly, especially if it turned out that we wanted to keep coming back. So I called and left the therapist a message saying that we liked him but we didn't feel like we could afford his services, that we'd probably try to see therapists covered by our insurance on an individual basis, etc., etc. I was a little surprised when he called me back to so that he could offer us a discount, that he thought we would really benefit from couples work, etc., etc.

So we're going back tonite.


mdmhvonpa said...

Counseling on the cheap. Tough call, but one thing I was told a long time ago (or heard, I forget) is this: Listen to advice, but pay great attention to advice you pay for.

Beth said...

NANC is big in the midwest, and I think it is free and largely successful.
Your woman sounds like a keeper!