24th April 2023 at 11:02 am #157930
I left a while ago but he still wants to try couples therapy.
He says he understands that I won’t get back with him, but that we need to learn to communicate for the sake of the kids (I always seem to be drawn in when he uses the kids welfare as bait, and he know this).
In principle, working out how to communicate sounds reasonable but I’m worried it’s a trap.
I also know that he is almost totally incapable of having a rational discussion – he lies and twists reality, he uses emotional blackmail and coercion, and he makes wild leaps in his argument to fit his narrative. I guess I’m kind of hoping that the counsellor will see through his charming facade and tell it like it is.
Am i being naïve? Does anyone else have experiences of couples therapy?
24th April 2023 at 9:00 pm #157938AnonymousInactive
I have a bit of experience of couples therapy before things got really bad and before I knew it was abuse. My ex used it as an opportunity to play the victim…
Sadly I think with these kinds of men you can’t coparent, and from everything I’ve read communication about the kids should be kept brief and in writing, ideally in an app or similar? I’m very early on in the journey so I haven’t had to navigate this but that’s what I plan to do in the future… More like parallel parenting??
I know mediation is not recommended when there has been domestic abuse, so I don’t think couples counseling would work either? From what you’ve said about his behaviour it doesn’t sound like couples therapy would produce the kind of outcome you want – instead of helping you both learn how to communicate for the kids, I think it may just be an opportunity for him to continue trying to control you.
I don’t know if this is helpful at all, but my thoughts are there with you and I hope more people will give advice from experience about how they navigated parenting post abuse X
25th April 2023 at 8:04 am #157949
Hi lightbulbmoment, couples counselling isn’t recommended for abusive relationships as the abuser tends to use it as a platform of how they are struggling.. I had couples counselling just before separation and my husband did use it as poor him time, then he tried other tactics ‘because we were in counselling’ in other words, my ex had a hidden agenda to counselling. Also you have said he lies and twists events.. he will continue to do this.
Your ex is the problem not you, if he wants counselling so he can learn how he has abused you and wants to change then that’s for him to sort out. If you do decide on couples counselling I would strongly suggest that you find one who is trained/experienced with DA.. but you are right in what you say, he won’t suddenly become reasonable he will use it to continue.
Sending strength and a hug ❤️
25th April 2023 at 9:44 am #157952
Thank you 1234F and HFH,
It’s really useful to hear your thoughts and experiences. Your posts make a lot of sense to me and I think ultimately I know that couples counselling isn’t the right approach here. You’re right in what you’re saying about continued control and the victim narrative.
BUT, I’m feeling bullied into agreeing – it’s the same old pattern of me agreeing to something I don’t want to do because the repercussions of not doing it are worse. If I don’t agree, it will lead to constant texts and calls berating me and saying I’m ruining the kids lives, it will become part of the smear campaign painting me as a bad/uncaring mother, mentally unstable, that I lie about my experiences etc, and I’ll have his family telling the kids I’m the problem. Maybe it’s easier to just do what he wants (in the hope that the counsellor will see it and call it out).
But the worst thing for me is that internal n****e that perhaps he’s right, perhaps I am ruining the kids lives, perhaps we do need to go to therapy to have a more peaceful future and if I don’t then I haven’t done everything possible to help the kids through this.
Sorry, another rant!
28th April 2023 at 11:39 pm #158049
Couples therapy is a ridiculous idea when you’re not a couple. What would you hope to get out of it? Frankly, it’s a desperate attempt by your ex to regain control over you. If he’s genuinely concerned for the children’s welfare then family therapy might be appropriate.
30th April 2023 at 4:24 pm #158105
Haha, Camel, you are so right! It is absolutely ridiculous.
The idea is to communicate better as a separated couple so we can co-parent effectively. But I know that this too is ridiculous, he will never be able to communicate sensibly with me.
I’m clinging on to trying to be kind, and still doing what he asks for fear of upsetting him if I don’t. At some point I’m going to give up on that and probably cut contact, but I’m not quite there yet.
Hope all is OK and the sun is shining for you this weekend.
14th May 2023 at 1:19 am #158449
You need to protect yourself against his constant bullying, coercion and control. You shouldn’t still feel too afraid to stand your ground.
You have every right to limit contact solely to discuss childcare. You don’t have to let him into your home. You don’t have to respond to his emails or texts. His way of communicating isn’t working for you. So, decide what works for you.
14th May 2023 at 4:18 am #158453SingleMomSurvivorParticipant
I went to couples therapy before leaving my ex and it was an absolutely terrible decision. Like many abusers, my ex is incredibly charming and he managed to convince the therapist that I was severely mentally ill and that I was abusing him. During one solo appointment with our therapist I told her I thought I was being abused by him and she seemed totally unconvinced. Meanwhile she believed whatever lies be told her about me. My ex also started using whatever therapy lingo he learned against me. The whole experience was very traumatizing. Don’t go to therapy with an abuser. Abuse is not a couples issue or a communication problem.
14th May 2023 at 5:28 pm #158465LostinagoodbookParticipant
My ex has asked for couples therapy and given exactly the same reason. I already question if it was really abusive or if he was just depressed and had anger issues. He has denied/ minimised/ most of what I’ve brought up. Played the victim often before. Been awful with guilt tripping/ blaming and suicide threats then quiet now seemingly a new man. Giving space, he says he has done a stress management course and now doing a parenting one too that I should give it a chance for the sake of the family etc. Bit torn tbh. He’s not actually acted on stuff before so maybe he really is willing to change?
18th May 2023 at 3:35 pm #158558
Your post really struck me. That period of wavering (has he changed? should I go back?) is horrific. You feel torn up by guilt, self doubt and confusion.
I succumbed and went back twice. I will never do that again.
Obviously each relationship is different but I think the general experience on this forum is that this type of man is incapable of change. He may put on a good show for a while but the mask will quickly slip. The fact you say he has denied and minimised what he’s done and guilt tripped/blamed you shows you that he hasn’t taken responsibility and therefore won’t be able to change.
Stay strong, stay positive.
25th May 2023 at 12:16 am #158688tryingtosleepParticipant
Omg – I could have written this post myself.
How is it that abusive men are all so similar?!
Thank you for posting this – it’s a real support for me to read this advice too xx
30th May 2023 at 11:53 am #158834
As a bit of an update on this, we are starting counselling. The aim is to approach our separation and divorce in the most positive way for the kids.
Thanks for all your advice, I take on board all the warnings above and I’m fully expecting that he will try to use the counselling to manipulate and control me, play the victim and present me as an abuser/crazy.
BUT, I’m hoping that it will be a safe space for me to refute his claims and work out how to get through this, kindly and sensibly. And ultimately, I will know I have tried every avenue to make this separation work.
(as I write this I’m just imagining rereading it in a few months time and despairing at my naivety)
I feel that counselling may be my opportunity to peel off some of the octopus tentacles that he has stuck onto me. I just want him to leave me alone – I’m exhausted by the constant calls, texts, dramas, accusations – and I don’t think he will calm down until he has some peace. He needs to hear that I believe his story, that his behaviour was justified because he was ill, or that I provoked his more recent behaviour by leaving. It’s a fine line of conceding some space to him on the one hand and justifying his abuse on the other.
(again I’m thinking this may be horribly naïve, and it also feels like I’m playing the manipulation game now too)
Really struggling to think clearly, any thoughts welcome!
30th May 2023 at 6:32 pm #158840
Hi lightbulbmoment, I understand your reasoning, I also went ahead and tried couples counselling after being warned not to. For me, the concept of marriage was deeply ingrained, i tried all avenues. No judgements here x
You said …
“He needs to hear that I believe his story, that his behaviour was justified because he was ill, or that I provoked his more recent behaviour by leaving”
Do you believe that his abuse was down to him being ill or because you and leaving? I mean that as a question to yourself.
Be true to yourself, this is your story and your pain/heartbreak.
Big hugs ❤️ HFH
30th May 2023 at 10:21 pm #158844
Thank you HFH. This has really made me think.
I was set on taking what I thought would be the path of least resistance (appease and pacify, as usual, in the hope of slipping away quietly) but your comment has shifted my focus.
I’m still so scared of upsetting him despite having left. It’s conditioning after such a long marriage. But it means that I don’t speak my truth. Maybe the truth would be kinder for everyone than this charade?!
Hope things are bearable in your world xx
31st May 2023 at 5:52 pm #158850
I completely understand as the conditioning I had for marriage was deeply ingrained… I remained with him for decades… now I look back at that old me and feel sorry for her, I didn’t have a clue!
It is good you are aware that he will try to manipulate the session…. saying that, he is an angry man anyhow, he has shown you his anger through abuse throughout the years. No wonder you are afraid to speak your truth…. you really are not responsible for his reactions whatsoever….
My ex tried everything at the point your are at, he sensed the shift in me and ramped up emotional manipulation (with children too!), he tried realky hard to get that trauma bond cycle going.
Hugs ❤️ HFH
1st June 2023 at 12:53 pm #158864LostinagoodbookParticipant
Keep us updated Lightbulbmoment? I’m finding this thread really useful. I’m still wavering but scared to do it as if I end up feeling like I really am to blame for everything then i will end up going back. He also says it’s about communication but we communicate via message so I don’t think it’s the real reason.
He has asked me to read what he has sent to his therapist and I refused after my friends insisted he was using it as a way to draw me in with sympathy( the week before he had been making out I was unbalanced and treated him badly to family members). But I feel horrendous – I don’t want to read it as I have enough of my own stuff to deal with but I feel like a horrible person saying no. After I said no he replied again saying he’d really appreciate it and they were saying it was evidence of him ignoring boundaries again. I’d have said yes if I was home on my own I’m sure.
How long before he gives up 🙁
23rd June 2023 at 2:06 pm #159356StrongLifeParticipant
Wild leaps is a good phrase. This is good explanation of twisting and ghen putting words in your mouth and leaping to conclusions like ex did.
Be careful of the therapy if he is domestic violence abuser. Be careful of contact- be careful of children’s safety around him.
26th June 2023 at 7:05 pm #159450Tudorite2023Participant
The quick and simple answer is no, if you know he is an abuser.
You are not being naiive: You are in the grip of an addiction to the abuser.
If you know he is an abuser, you need to leave, get out and stay out. Block all channels of contact through which he could reach you.
Therapy will not make him realise that he is an abuser. He honestly, genuinely believes he has done nothing wrong. He might tell you he realises, but this is fake contrition.
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24th October 2023 at 8:24 pm #162665
This is an update after quite a few months of couples and family counselling.
So, you probably all know that you were right! – any sort of therapy with an abuser is not going to help them understand or change their behaviour.
It was actually a mixed bag in the end. As expected, he lied, twisted the truth, denied his behaviour, accepted no responsibility and used what he learned to try and manipulate and control me. No surprise there. He didn’t take anything positive from it and it didn’t improve his behaviour at all. In fact, it got worse as he had more opportunities to manipulate me.
The therapist was absolutely brilliant. She saw the situation exactly as it was. She told him he had been (and continued to be) abusive towards me and the kids, that his behaviour was the problem and that he needed individual therapy for addiction and behavioural issues if he was ever going to rebuild his relationship with the kids.
I felt really seen and heard and it has given me some strength in my own view of the situation.
It was a risk, and I wouldn’t recommend it as it could easily have gone the other way (I’ve also ended up with the massive bill), but it has helped me to see the situation from an external perspective.
Stay strong ladies x
20th November 2023 at 2:22 am #163377
Hi there, sorry this is a late reply. I’m so pleased it went well for you. You were fortunate to get a counsellor who saw your ex for what he is. Well, you did what your ex asked, and paid for it. Hopefully he’s leaving you in peace.
3rd December 2023 at 7:33 pm #163785StrongLifeParticipant
Also like to state as I reread this – they do not change.
I hung around for some magical change. It never happened- I changed instead via therapy.
He does not need to be there. Personally I would never be alone or even in same building as him to limit any chances of further abuse.
Hope that helps
3rd December 2023 at 8:23 pm #163789swanlakeParticipant
Thank you for the update LightbulbMomemt. It’s great that you felt seen and heard.
On the subject of guilt tripping and blaming for abusive behaviour, my abuser committed a serious crime and tried to blame it on me. Apparently if I’d acted differently or done as I was told, they wouldn’t have done what they did. They really have no remorse or compassion for other human beings and were only sorry that they got caught.
We truly are not to blame for anything that other people do though for a long time I was called a bully as if I had any control over my abuser when I was well and truly under their thumb and in reality they are to blame for things that happened to me. It’s so hard when abusers are cunning and manipulative.
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