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Married to a marriage counselor

By Aime Dunstan Post Staff Writer

Married to someone who thinks they're always right? Try being married to a marriage counselor.
"Sometimes being married to a therapist can be kind of maddening when you do just want to yell and scream," says Judy Williams, wife of Brian, a licensed clinical social worker. "He'll go 'No one does anything always,' and that just drives me crazy. And I'll go, 'I know no one does but you do!' "

Brian, who worked in publishing for 12 years  now counsels families, couples and individuals. He turned to the profession after undergoing counseling for his own marriage.

"I sat there with my legs crossed and my arms folded and my finger pointed at (my wife) saying to the therapist, 'Fix her!' " he recalls of their time in couples' therapy. "I spent a good deal of money before I realized I was going to have to change, too."

Brian, who earned his master's in social work from Barry University says many of his couples clients complain of an inability to communicate, as well as differences in opinion and family backgrounds regarding sex, parenting, finances and other issues.

"I think one of the things that's effective in my working with couples is that I've sat on the other side of the couch also," he says. "We'll be married 35 years in November, and believe me, we couldn't have done it without outside help."

Judy worried Brian would become too philosophical when he changed careers, but she says he has become more sensitive and introspective.

"It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be," says Judy, a yoga instructor and registered nurse. "We always had the kind of relationship where we talked about our relationship anyway.  But now we don't have the power struggles that we used to have."

Brian says his clients help him gain perspective, which helps his own marriage as well as his clients' marriages.

"Sometimes, I'll have a particularly arrogant, know-it-all type of male and I will come home and go, 'You know, I don't know how you put up with me for forty years' " he confesses.

Still, Judy can't resist having a little fun at the expense her husband's profession.

"I sit there and I go, 'Oh, and you tell other (married) people what to do?' That's always a good line in a fight," Judy says with a snicker.

So how do you know if you need marital counseling?

"When it's not working," Brian says, adding that research shows patients wait an average of six years before submitting to counseling, at which point the problem has become "entrenched" and clouded with other issues. "Normally, I think people think (therapy is) the step they take before they call the lawyer. I'd say it's the step you should take right after you call your mom or your best friend."