4 myths of being married to a marriage counsellor, debunked

Do you ever wonder about the private life of a marriage therapist? Do you assume they have the perfect marriage? Not so fast. As neuropsychotherapist and relationships expert Joanna Wilson explains, they’re just like everyone else. 

With our psychological insight and expertise, you might think that being married to a marriage counsellor is perpetual, conflict-free bliss. While we can certainly apply what we’ve learned in our years of training. it doesn’t mean our marriages are always perfect. We’re humans, too, after all. How would we understand relationships and coach couples through issues if we haven’t lived them ourselves? So I’m here to debunk some myths about what being married to a marriage counsellor is really like.

Myth number 1: We live in eternal marital bliss

I have been married for 13 years and know how challenging it can be. I am continually researching and learning so much about relationships in my role, and yes, sometimes there are hiccups.

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If I’ve had a challenging day, my husband and kids will inevitably be dealing with it as well because that’s part of being married. At these times, we aren’t our best versions of ourselves.

But we make sure to set aside regular date nights so we can enjoy each other’s company without the distractions of children and screens that often detract from what we appreciate about each other.

Myth number 2: We don’t argue

Despite both having front-row seats to exemplary relationship mentors, my husband and I still had to break some well-rehearsed unhelpful relationship habits and adopt a healthy approach to dealing with our differing opinions; especially when we transitioned into being ‘married with children’.

We still have disagreements and to this day, I am still often shocked when my husband doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t want the same things as me. But how we approach those differences is the key.

I want our three young boys under 12 to see us disagree and know that they’re still safe, life is normal, no one’s leaving or slamming doors.

Myth number 3: Marriage therapists are master communicators

As an author, radio co-host, podcaster and neuropsychotherapist, I like to think I’m an excellent communicator. Add love, and feelings of disappointment or frustration, though, and I’m not as good as I think I am.

When we are triggered, our memories are not reliable, and we naturally default to ego protection with defensiveness. What we find essential, is ensuring we align ourselves by constantly evaluating how we do things; from the children’s age-appropriate chores, anticipating disciplinarian consequences, extended family influences and how we roll as a couple.

Myth number 4: Marriage therapists expect a better marriage than everyone else

My husband met me as a flight attendant with long blonde hair and now he’s married to a marriage therapist with short hair of varying colours depending on the week – he didn’t get exactly what he signed up for!

But we still desire each other and love making it work. Why do we love making it work? We’ve founded our marriage on commitment, respect and kindness – no matter what. This example was gifted to us by our parents.

Think about your marriage legacy

This is where my greatest passion for relationship counselling comes from: enabling every couple who walks through my door, especially those with young children, to recreate and reform their legacy.

Some of my most beautiful opportunities arise when clients with legacies of separation, divorce and all sorts of abuse come with open hearts and minds to say, ‘We don’t like how we were raised, we didn’t get to see how beautiful marriage and family can be. Can you please give us strategies to approach life differently? Could you please help us help our children?’

People give up on their marriage for many different reasons and many don’t realise how much our relationship choices today have a ripple effect on generations to come. I love the honour of coaching couples back to the safe, connected and intimate relationship they deserve and their children can mentor from.

I certainly could not do that without the “full marriage experience” myself.

Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99).