Dear Jill and Mark:

My husband wants to go talk to a counselor because of some anger issues he’s been feeling lately. He set up an appointment through a program offered through his work. They set him up with a female. I feel uncomfortable with this and don’t know if I should just ignore it or if it really does matter. I thought I’ve read that men should speak with men in counseling. Just wondered your opinion on this.




Dear Concerned,

There is definitely wisdom in men seeing men counselors and women seeing women counselors. It’s just a wise part of protecting your marriage proactively. (We talk about this in No More Perfect Marriages!) We don’t think there’s anything wrong with you expressing your concern to your husband and asking if he would mind requesting a male counselor. If it becomes a big deal, though, it may be something you have to give grace on and leave as it is. We are beyond thrilled to hear that your husband wanted to see a counselor to deal with his anger issues. We’re also thrilled that he took action himself to set up an appointment. Both of those are huge and something to be incredibly grateful for. To us that’s a bigger mountain to climb than the gender of his counselor. So we think it’s valuable to express your concern, but don’t let it get in the way of him getting the help he needs.

Mark and Jill

Mark: This question came in this week and we thought it was a great way for us to discuss the value of “triaging” marriage issues.
Jill: If there’s a medical emergency, the first thing they do is triage. This is the process of sorting multiple victims to determine medical priority. This effort helps to increase the number of survivors.  It determines the priority of issues to be addressed.
Mark: When there are multiple issues in marriage, we also need to triage. This helps us determine the priorities of the issues we want to address.
Jill: In the case of “Concerned,” she had a very valid concern but it was secondary to her husband identifying that he needed help with his anger and the effort that he’d already made to seek out that help. Both of those are huge wins for their marriage!  His appointment with a female counselor was a valid concern but should not get in the way of him actually getting the help.  So she needed to “triage” the issue and determine that it was not as important as him getting the help.
Mark: We had the pleasure of interacting with “Concerned” this week and found out that her husband responded to her expressed concern by changing his appointment to see a male counselor.  We were so glad to hear that her husband responded the way he did, but if he hadn’t it might have been best for her to let the female counselor issue go for now. This puts him seeing a counselor as a top priority and him seeing a female counselor as a second priority.
Jill: Some questions we might ask ourselves when we’re triaging issues are:
  • In the grand scheme of things, is this really a big deal?
  • Is there something positive happening here that I’m not seeing?
  • What’s the most important thing that needs to happen here?
  • Is this the right time to address this issue?

What about you? Are there multiple issues you need to triage in your relationship? 

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