Confidentiality

28 Mar

Letterbalm Soldier in ShadowDear LetterBalm: My husband left the military after a 20-year career, including three tours of duty in Iraq. As a veteran, he’s receiving therapy to deal with elements of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and related issues. Fortunately, counseling is working well for him, and he’s less anxious at work and with me and the kids. But he won’t discuss any of his sessions with the counselor. I don’t want to know all the details, just those about our relationship, which I think I have a right to know. He and I have had words about this. What can I tell him to make him more willing to open up?

–Supportive Wife

This may come as a shock, but you have absolutely no right to know what goes on during your husband’s confidential therapy sessions. Nada, rien, tipota, niente – nothing. Ms. L.B. can’t imagine the needless stress you are putting your husband through. He’s dealing with PTSD and unimaginable issues, and your badgering him for details told privately is selfish, intrusive, insensitive and uncomfortably close to cruel. If you have worries about your marriage, treat this as a separate matter, unrelated to his therapy. Better yet, seek your own therapist to guide you through your own issues. You need to apologize to your husband. Fix him his favorite dinner, get the kids out of the house and say this sincerely:

Audie, I owe you a big apology. I’ve had no right to pester you for any details you may have discussed in therapy. I guess I’ve been so worried about you and about us, that I lost my head and put you through undue stress. I’m so sorry. I know you’re working hard to get better, and the kids and I are seeing signs that you’re getting back to your old self. Can we make a deal that has to do with just you and me: If either of us sees red flags in our relationship, we tell the truth to the other person. This is about us, not about your therapy; I promise I’ll leave that subject alone. And, I also promise to love you always because you’ll always be a hero to me.

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