I love my wife, Diane, like crazy. But I still wanted to pull my hair out sometimes.
What did we fight about? Money, for one. I was used to spending at will; she insisted every purchase be made together. Another flash point was the in-laws. They tended to butt in, and we weren't on the same page about them.
Diane pushed therapy; I pushed back. I hated doctor's offices. We had no time. So Diane, a Google fanatic, found a Skype counselor.
Neither of us had used Skype before, so it didn't feel natural at first. We spoke with our therapist at night after our kids were asleep. It was more helpful than I expected. The most useful trick I learned was to clarify what my wife meant—mirroring—before I replied. And I learned how to tell a complaint from a criticism. A complaint like “There are socks on the floor again!” isn't a personal attack.
Had we not started Skype counseling, we'd have made each other's lives hell for a lot longer. Now we have a budget we compromised on. We set up boundaries for our in-laws. We are out to build each other up, not get each other.
At the seventh one-hour session, we spent more time laughing than addressing problems. The counselor said, “You don't really need me anymore, but reach out if you ever do.” When we hung up, I said, “I guess we graduated!” That felt pretty cool.
Online Therapy: Yay or Nay?
“My Skype clients are more relaxed and focused than those I meet with in person,” says New York City therapist Clay Cockrell. “They're in a familiar setting, so they don't need to ‘warm up’ with chitchat.” Adds Austin, TX, life coach David Cantu: “Aside from the ease, the biggest benefit is that folks can choose the best counselor for them, and not be limited by who's nearby.”
Cockrell says it could be too convenient. “When things are really easy, people tend not to value them,” he says. “But working at something, taking time and traveling to a therapist's office, may feel like an investment in your marriage.” Cantu adds that the Skyping itself is not always seamless. “About a third of my clients have technical difficulty at one point or another,” estimates Cantu. If you've never used a video-chat app before, play around with it and troubleshoot before you make a counseling appointment.