After years of emotional and verbal abuse directed at my children and me and physical abuse directed at the children when they were younger my husband finally consented to go for counseling–he admits to being backslidden but agreed to go for Christian counseling. Much to my surprise the sessions have not been about his issues but about how I deal with his raging at me–he doesn’t even acknowledge his physical abuse with our children either.
The counselor allowed him to divert the session to my past which was almost 30 years ago–this happened after she questioned him about anger issues. He raised his voice to her and she allowed him to talk about my past so I would look like this awful person. She says that even if he makes me pay the price in some way, shape or form in the future for saying something he doesn’t like that its better to pay the price rather than suppress it–does that make sense to you.
Nothing addressed about his behavior. It has become all about me and my response to it–which is usually a feeling of being shell shocked and knocked off of my feet. What do you suggest? The fact is that all of his past behavior is the reason things are in the state they are in now–but he fails to acknowledge any wrong doing–a Christian psychologist told me that he has narcissistic personality disorder. Life is all about him at everyone else’s expense. How do you even begin to address these issues in a setting where he is present and the counselor doesn’t seem to get it?
In abusive relationships, we do not recommend couple’s counseling. Often the abuser will manipulate the sessions. Retaliation toward the victim will occur after the sessions. We recommend each person seek out their own individual counseling to work on their own issues. When both parties have worked through their past or present issues, then and only then do we say to go into couple’s counseling. What you have experienced in couple’s counseling is common. The counselor should not have continued counseling both of you together.
In your relationship, you need to know when you can speak truth to him and when to walk away. You need someone to come into his life and hold him responsible for his behavior. I think your counselor was trying to get you to stand up to him by setting a boundary but at your great expense. The only hope of someone changing is that he receives consequences for his behavior. In these kinds of relationships though consequences need to come from an outside source. Boundary setting is done in baby steps. A great book to read is Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Safe People is another book by them.
I can understand your counselor’s concern about stuffing your feelings. That could be anger turned inward. This can lead to depression, bitterness, and health problems. Learning appropriate ways to let it out is essential. But in your case, it sounds like the counselor does not understand the dynamics of domestic violence and the manipulation that occurs by the abuser let alone the danger it puts you in. It sounds like you are being blamed for your husband’s behavior.
My suggestion for you is to stop couple’s counseling and enter into counseling just for yourself. I would also suggest that your husband see a different counselor than the one you see. Narcissist people are their own god. Until they make the true God their god there is no hope. They will continue to abuse others around them.