What happens when a marriage counselor's marriage hits the rocks? Author Sharyn Wolf, a marriage counselor and psychotherapist practicing in New York City, writes about it in Love Shrinks: A Memoir of a Marriage Counselor's Divorce." I asked Sharyn if she'd write something about that here, and I'm thrilled she said yes. Thank you, Sharyn!
Love Shrinks: a memoir of a marriage counselor’s divorce
By Sharyn Wolf
Writing “Love Shrinks” was a scary proposition for me. I’ve been a marriage counselor and psychotherapist for twenty years, and it has been my job to listen. It has never been my job to tell. And, this book is about my divorce. It’s all about telling—all about revisiting a painful past.
In the 90’s I had a career as a “relationship expert.” I appeared on more than 400 television and radio shows including eight visits on Oprah. People looked to my perky, upbeat advice on how to stay lovers for life, and they seemed to like my funny delivery. I was one the one who said, “The problem is the place you start working; not the place you stop working.” And, “When you have the energy to throw him out of the window, you can use that same energy to make love work.” The truth is that while I was delivering all these sassy sound bites, I was going home every night to a failed marriage of my own.
We couldn’t cooperate to buy furniture for our home. We didn’t share meals. We had sex three times in thirteen years. It was shocking. The better I got on TV and as a psychotherapist, the worse my home life became. I was freaked out because I was living such a lie.
I came to realize that my evangelistic fervor to help others was really an attempt to help my own marriage. I was desperate for it to improve. But, no matter what I said or did at home (I tried all of my own advice on my husband), nothing helped. Still, I couldn’t leave this man for so many reasons.
He was the man who danced me across the living room floor in my pajamas while the stereo played the love theme from “Beauty and the Beast.” He was the man who climbed into bed with my dying aunt when she said she wanted to rest her head on his belly. He was the man who gave me his silly mosquito net hat when we were hiking, and I forgot to bring mine.
And yet, he was the man who never read a word of one of my books no matter how much I begged. He was the man who would not listen to me talk about my work no matter how much that meant to me. He was the man who got shoe polish all over our new white couch and refused to put a cover on it or take off his shoes.
After fifteen years, I stepped out of the grey landscape of my marriage, and I filed for divorce. It was messy. It was long. It was a pity. I now receive another kind of media interest that isn’t as much fun; I am the marriage counselor who couldn’t keep her own marriage intact.