Ellen Glass was shocked when she and her husband sought counseling early in their marriage and she discovered she wasn’t the only one with frustrations. “I walked in with a mental list of all the things that my husband needed to change,” says Glass, a licensed clinical social worker at Jewish Family Services. She was floored when her husband came in with his own mental list as well. “I was also shocked when the therapist, instead of saying to me, ‘Oh you poor dear,’ gave as much credibility to his list as she did my list.”
Happily married for 42 years now, Glass spends much of her time counseling other couples dealing with marital issues. Many come to see her because they are disillusioned, a feeling that often stems from having unrealistic expectations of what a marriage truly is. “People often think that the initial excitement and euphoria that is often present in the first stage of a relationship is the real thing and that something is wrong when that intensity subsides,” she says, noting that all marriages become familiar and routine at some point.
People seek marriage counseling for reasons ranging from poor communication skills to infidelity. Most come to see a counselor when they are at a pivotal point in life. They may be new parents or fledgling empty nesters who have to relearn the nuances of being full-time partners instead of focusing on parenting.