So how’s that therapy working out for you, anyhow?

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life72 Comments


Artistic rendering done in PSE 8 using some filter. I'm really making great use of my time this week, while waiting for my new hard drive to be installed, which apparently won't be possible until next Monday. Lord, help me.

I thought I'd talk about how things are going with me and Dan.

I've touched on it here and there and there, and honestly, it's a bit unusual for me to not have talked about it more, considering how much working on my marriage has dominated the past two-and-a-half years of my life.

Part of it was to preserve some privacy; part of it was because I knew for a fact that I didn't have all the answersβ€”and still don't; and part of it was because I wasn't in a place where I could vouch for the effects of therapy.

Today, I feel differently.

Last week, I was dusting in my family room and I was overcome with this thought: I don't ever want to live my life without Dan in it.

I shared this with him and it made us both a bit weepy. Not for the simple note of sentimentality invoked, but for the truth of just how hard what we have been trying to do is: that being save our union.

I realized, as I was dusting our super-sized TV, one that we bought when we were on much less solid ground, that there have been moments where I wondered if I shouldn't just take this journey alone. I have rambled on about this on more than one occasion to my therapist, who now loves to remind me, and in a somewhat mocking tone, how I once thought: to hell with him, I can do better on my own

But today, I know better.

This process has been so much more about me and who I've been in this marriage (and to a larger extent, in this family and in this world) than who does what around the house. Or who doesn't ask me how my day was. Or who is wrong or right on just about everything.

It's been about redefining what kind of person I want to be. 

Do I want to be a judgmental, evaulative person who tries to control life? Or do I want to be loving, warm and wise and one who seeks to figure out what life is offering up and respond accordingly?

Do I want to be right? Or do I want to see what is actually true, regardless of whether or not there is pain in the truth? (And I'm learning that there always is.)

This might sound like therapy mumbo jumbo, but it's mumbo jumbo that has reminded me how much I love my partner in crime, and how much I've nearly thrown away because of who I have been.

For the first time since we started working on this, I feel like we are out of the woods.

Does it mean that the work is over? No. It's not. I'm trying to rewire my responses to life on every level. 

People are noticing, and by people I mean the three that I presently live with.

Like the other day when Aidan told me my calm response to the death of my computer was proof to her that the therapy was working.

That level of acknowledgement means everything to me.

I know that not every couple is going to stay together, nor should they. That's life. And that's truth. 

But I know that if there is a kernel worth exploring, then there might just be a chance to make it through the forest and see what's on the other side. 

And I know that some of that journey is going to involve a lot of self-examination and that it's not fun and it's not pretty or sexy. In fact at times, it's going to make you run in the other direction. 

I've made a lot of about faces in the past few years.

I'm looking down the barrel of 21 years of marriage next month.

And I'm extremely grateful for that opportunity.



Cathy ZielskeSo how’s that therapy working out for you, anyhow?

72 Comments on “So how’s that therapy working out for you, anyhow?”

  1. #1

    Thank you Cathy, for your honesty and integrity and for being brave enough to share what you have. I honestly think you have given many hope – hope that there is a way forward even when they believe there is none left. I also think that you may have woken a few up to the harsh realities of life. Congratulations on the new awareness of making it over the hump. Remember the ride down the other side is also fraught with danger but it sounds like you have enough ‘skill’ to know when to apply the brakes now. Aidan’s statement possibly means that the ‘passengers’ in this ride are most appreciative! And I’ve made a mental note to self about your blog when/if my computer crashes… I very much admired how you handled that one.

  2. #5

    Thank you for this well written piece. As one who gave up too easily (even though in this case I have questions about whether ‘saving’ was possible), I truly believe that my next relationship will start with therapy, one minute after a serious commitment is made. This job is way too hard, in most cases, for two people to go it alone. Just like parenting.

  3. #7
    Melanie A.

    I’ve only recently started following your blog so only recently learned of your journey. I want to thank you for sharing some of that journey. You are right that not every couple should end up staying together, but I think most of the time people can’t, won’t, or simple don’t want to do the hard work to save a marriage. They forget what made them fall in love in the first place. It is not easy to take a hard look at yourself, I’ve been there. Heaven knows I should be there again because you are right too that it is never ending. We can always improve and do things to make our marriage or any relationship and ourselves better. I smiled really big to read your thought while dusting. I am rooting for you both.

  4. #12

    So happy for you. It’s been rough morning at our house, but your post today made my day. God’s continued blessings on your family!

  5. #13

    Wonderful post, and I’m encouraged by reading it. Encouraged to know that there are still couples who are willing to do that hard work and keep their commitment. The benefits are like ripples in a pond. Really good ripples! That touch your spouse, and your kids, and … your family, friends and readers.

    Thank you, and God bless you all.

  6. #14

    Thanks for sharing this update with us, Cathy. My husband and I keep coming to the same place time after time–do we stay or do we part ways? The changes we are both making are in turn making the difference in ‘us’ as we work through this (and a big piece of that is recognizing that the things we say in those moments aren’t just in the heat of the moment but deeply felt accumulations from the years we’ve been together and really, truly need to be addressed and not just rehashed). It helps to see you and Dan working through similar things, knowing that commitment from both parties can yield positive results in real life and not just in mumbo-jumbo theory.

  7. #15
    bl gordon


    I was moved to tears as I read your post. I appreciate your willingness to share such intimate details about your life and marriage. It helps me put things in perspective and be mindful of my actions.

    You are inspiring.

  8. #18
    Sue SG (the commenter formerly known as Sue S)

    My partner, anmovie husband, of 12 years and I just made it through a 3 year long rough patch due to his depression, our loss of connection and other things. I too thought I could do better alone many days during those three terrible years. Thankfully we have been able to rebuild because he was able to get help, and we have always had excellent communication. Our relationship is stronger now, and while there remain work to be done, I feel that it is stronger now, and will continue to get stronger, than it was before it almost came crashing down around our ears because we are committed to it and each other. When I read your posts on this personally subject I always feel like you are writing my heart. Thank you for letting me know there is some one out there working through it just like we are, and making it, slowly, happily, one sweet moment at a time.

  9. #20

    I wish you could hear me….I am sitting her clapping and cheering!! Both for your journey and your growth! Thanks for the peek into the inner sanctum and the inspiration to carry on daily!! Blessings on ya girlie!!

  10. #23

    So glad for u both. And that u can acknowledge your own faults instead of looking for other peoples. Keep u the good work! 21 years is sadly rare these days πŸ™‚


  11. #24
    Sarah F in VA

    You are inspiring Cathy, and an amazing writer. Please don’t ever go away or retire. πŸ™‚

  12. #25

    You know what? GO you. πŸ™‚ I commend you for your bravery–both in posting about this and for acknowledging that there is work to be done on your part too. I know I’m still at the blame portion of my marriage and (unfairly) I usually only focus on my husband’s flaws and blame him for my own. Of course, that’s certainly not making me any happier, but I never said I was that smart. πŸ™‚ But, I am hoping to get there. I wish you and Dan and the kids well.

  13. #26

    i just hit the 25 year mark and was kinda expecting a trophy or something…and as our therapist reminds us-50% of marriages end…and you gotta figure, outta the other 50% left, half of those people are miserable! (yeah, we may be rethinking this therapist…)Anyway, congrats to you both, marriage is hard, but a good buddy along for the journey is worth working for. thanks for the reminder that i’m not the only one working on it.

  14. #27
    Leanne in CA

    Love this! So glad you two are working it out and in it for the long haul. Take care of yourselves and each other!!

  15. #28

    Someone once told me “If you’re just living with someone, you jump ship at the first sign of bad weather. When you are married to that person, you work on a plan to jump ship. And by the time you have the plan all worked out, you find that you have fallen back in love and no longer need to jump ship.” I have found this to be true. We celebrated 32 years this year (and dated for 3 years before marrying…that’s 35 years!) There will always be rough waters, but learning NOT to rock the boat unnecessarily is the key.

  16. #29

    Cathy & Dan: You should both be so proud that you are making that commitment to work on your marriage…no matter what the outcome may be. You had such a great moment & you realized that Dan is the one that you want to be with. Some people think that marriage is so easy but it is something that has to be worked on. You have to adjust it as the years go by. Thank you for taking the time to work on this & to decide what you both want for your future.

  17. #31

    This is the Kathy who emailed you and said “no one is named Cathy/Kathy anymore.” Thank you for having the courage to share your story, and to let us know that not everything is always perfect in blogland. I’m rooting for you guys, keep up the good work!

  18. #32

    Oh this journey… my husband and I have been on a similar ride… we knew we didn’t want to get off the ride, we just knew we wanted to enjoy it more… one of my favorite quotes is from Robert Anderson and he said “In every marriage more than one week old, there is grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.”
    Wise words – thanks for sharing your heart – makes me feel like I’m not alone…

  19. #33

    I really appreciate you being so candid on your blog. I wish I could be more authentic on mine, but I’m too chicken.

    I know this sounds super corny, but I make the choice every morning when I get up to be with my husband. Sure, he annoys the living daylights out of me sometimes, but I can not, no way, no how, ever imagine being without him. I can imagine being without his snoring and without his inability to clean a shower properly, or his apparent lack of planning abilities…. but not without his friendship, his advice, his strength, his shoulder, his support, his love, his zest for life…

    We were given some great advice when we got married (10 years ago this month!) – to begin as we wish to continue. So we take the time to discuss aspects of marriage and what we want and what we don’t want. Long commutes and travelling around our province & the next one over (a lot) really help with all this talking time. It’s something people comment on about our marriage – our communication. We made joint-decisions like “don’t fight in public”, “no low blows or name calling when fighting”, “no side taking when friends decide to fight in public”. If there is trouble with any of our friends, we talk about it and about what it means to us, or even what it means about us. I don’t think he actually likes all the talking, but I think he likes the lack of drama that is the outcome of all the talking!

    We’re not perfect, of course, but we’re perfect for each other. I can’t imagine my life without him. And I do, I choose him every day.

    Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to have him/be his.

  20. #34

    I admire you for being so honest and letting go that everything is the other persons fault. Really lovely that your immediate family are noticing the changes and are loving you for that too. Way to go Cathy! Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  21. #35
    Nicole Hankosky

    Thank you for sharing. Wonderful to hear and great to have an inside view into your successes with therapy too. My best to you always.

  22. #36

    Thank you for sharing. My hubby and I are 13 months into the journey of “putting it back together/repairing the disconnection”. It’s hard, I don’t have anyone to talk to about it, other than our counsellor, it’s all consuming and suddenly it’s comforting to know someone on the other side of the world is doing the work as well.Thank you for sharing, you’ve made me feel a little less alone. Niss, Sunshine Coast, Australia.

  23. #37

    I’m really happy for you and Dan and your family. (And had to comment to say that your husband looks very like his son in this picture.)

  24. #40
    Sara S

    Good for you guys and good for you because you keep it real on here. I know how hard it is to keep a marriage going, raise kids and try to lose weight, you’re an inspiration to a lot of us! Keep it up girl!

  25. #44
    Margy Eastman

    I’m so glad things are working you for you both. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. And when you decide to succeed…how sweet.

  26. #45
    Jane Toft

    As a survivor, I can only say, hang in there you two ageing hipsters. The middle aged dating game is littered with men in ill fitting leather jackets who have never heard of Billy Bragg. ‘mare.

  27. #46

    Hi, ive been following your blog for a whie, but havent had the courage to post before.

    THAnkyou so much for sharing your journey with such honetsy and integrity. I have been in therapy now for coming up for three years, and so much of what you say about being an ‘adult’ really resonates. It is so nice to know i’m not the only one going through this journey. It is bloody hard and painful, and i have often wanted to take the perecieved easy route ( ie can do better on my own!) but have also realised that some things are just worth fighting for!

    Thankyou so much for sharing and i sincerely wish you both all the very best for the future.

  28. #48
    Amy K

    Oh my heart! Cathy, that was a truly inspiring post. The portion about you questioning the type of person you want to be…spoke directly to me.
    Thank you for authentically sharing this personal part of your life!

  29. #51

    Blessing to you and Dan as you continue to work through it. What a great example you are to your children. I hope you and Dan both realize the impact that this will have on them — seeing their parents work through something incredibly difficult has got to make them proud. You’re setting a wonderful and realistic example. My parents divorced after 27 years of marriage without trying to save it because my mother had her mind on someone else. I’ve been married only 4.5 years, but I can tell you that seeing them poo-poo on a 27 year commitment made me sad and disappointed. Marriage is freaking hard. A&C are lucky kiddos.

  30. #52

    OK I can’t see to type all that well because I have tears in my eyes.
    I am so freakin’ proud of you and Dan – and I don’t even know you!
    I’d write more but I need to go find a Kleenex…
    – Lee

  31. #53
    Stacy Simpson

    Awesome. Thanks for being so open. I’m so happy for you and your marriage. 21 years is an accomplishment worth celebrating. I hope you guys do something special and enjoy each other.

    We just past the 17 year mark. We definitely have our ups and downs. Usually, it’s me complaining, him listening and probably wishing I would shut up. Your post reminded me I can only control my actions and responses. I need to talk less and listen more. Thanks for the reminder!

  32. #54

    I love this post. My husband of 21 years just passed away after a 4+ year battle with cancer. While there were days throughout our marriage I Just couldn’t live with him, I knew I didn’t want to live without him. Now I don’t have a choice, but am so grateful that nothing went unsaid between us. Letting go of the little things – like how he could never seem to fold the towels the right way (MY way) – gave me a new perspective. He was a good man, and it’s true they are hard to find. Hang on to yours!

  33. #55

    oh, Cathy. This is so beautiful. So honest, it just brought me to tears. Of course partly because of my own recent loss of my marriage, but mostly because I’m so inspired by your honesty, and your commitment to make it work. Thank you for writing this, friend.

  34. #57

    : ) Thanks, Gwen. I really am aware that its not always going to be the case that even with the work, its going to work out. I have just begun to really scratch the surface of the changes I want and need to make for myself. I appreciate your comment and hope you are doing well right now. xo.

  35. #58
    Denise Rotell

    You are a phenomenal writer. I read your posts like this one, and can totally relate to you and all you are going through. I think to myself “She should do a column in O Magazine or something”…but then I realize that , I guess you already do:) “Trying to rewire responses to life on every level”–I think everyone should probably be working on that!!! Thanks for this awesome post!

  36. #60

    I thank you and Cathy for your honesty and transparency. I am tearful, as I read the shared journey we are on, but hopeful – because even though I know this process will be long, it has at least begun.

  37. #61
    Lee Currie

    I am so incredibly happy for you and all you have both learned on your journey. To come out the other end closer together is an incredible accomplishment. Years of therapy with my soon-to-be-former husband didn’t work for us, but it surely did wonders for me πŸ™‚ Thank you, as always, for all that you share.

  38. #64

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you are both celebrating your 50th anniversary with family by your side! Keep doing what you are doing!

  39. #66
    tiffany h.

    I love and thank you for your honesty. I celebrated 14 years with my love last month and during this time I’ve learned that marriage full of love at time but is full of ups and downs at times; it’s hard. I have also learned that I do not want to live without the love of my life, even if he doesn’t load the dishwasher the “right” way (meaning my way) or feed the kids what I think they should be eating. With two young children at home we’re constantly working on our marriage and finding time just for us to reconnect and remember all the good we saw in each other 14 years ago. Best of luck to you & Dan!

  40. #67
    Renee Pearson

    I’m so proud of you, Cathy. The work of evaluating and acknowledging yourself is the hardest work you’ll ever do. After 40 years, Kent and I know that marriage is always a work in progress. But the work gives us an opportunity to discover new parts of ourselves to share. That’s what makes it exciting and rewarding. I can honestly say that we are both better people together than we are apart. (We’ve tried it both ways.) He is my love and my best friend…and it’s the friendship that I value above all else. It’s the friendship that keeps our relationship alive and growing.

    Hugs to you, Dan and the kids.

  41. #69
    Karen keiper

    I think the biggest truth that needs to be told to our sons and daughters is marriage is hard work! You need to work at a marriage for it to survive and thrive.

  42. #70

    Marriage is a commitment that isn’t all happiness and fun! Some people are critical of other spouses and my response is, some battles are worth fighting….others aren’t worth a second glance. I have been married for 21 years to the only person I ever wanted to be married to. We aren’t romantic, we aren’t together all of the time, we don’t like to do the same things, but we have two amazing children and we all know that we love each other more than anyone could ever know. Thanks for sharing your journey…it’s real and it is worth it!

  43. #71
    Katie D.

    Beautiful, Cathy. My first husband was killed in a car accident 15 months into our marriage, when I was 25. I loved him as much as a wife could love a husband, but even the short time we were together (about 6 years) was hard work (though well worth it, and despite the tragic ending, I would do it over and over again). I have been remarried now for 3 years, and I love my husband desperately, but it is still very hard work! Yes, there have been momentary thoughts of “screw this! too hard! not worth it!” but the truth is, we are SO lucky to have each other. And to all of those who think the grass is greener elsewhere, I have married two amazing men, and both are as big of a pain in the you know what as the other!! Must be that Y chromosome…. πŸ˜‰ I feel lucky to have that perspective any time I imagine life without Joe or with someone else.

    And, btw, I want your therapist!! I WISH I could let go of the judgmental controlling wife that I know I can often be, but so far no luck.

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