Marriage counseling has always scared the bejesus out of me. Not because there's anything wrong with it per se -- I've seen it save plenty of marriages. But when you hear "they're in counseling," it seems to be code for "somebody used the 'D' word" (ahem, that would be divorce?).
So when Food Network star Cat Cora sat down to dish about family with The Stir, I wasn't expecting to hear the words "marriage counseling" come out of her mouth. Not least because the star's marriage to wife Jennifer has fascinated me since 2008, when the couple became pregnant together and put an extra twist in there. They used a sperm donor but carried each other's embryos. To say I thought it was cool was an understatement. From far away, it seemed like one of the best ways of saying "I love you out there."
Now you'll have to pardon the "celebrity as BFF" fantasizing moment here, but I always wanted to ask her about it ... and how she makes that awesome marriage work. And, well, last week I did!
Cat spends so much time on the road away from her family that she literally wrote a book about it. And after dishing to The Stir how to keep her relationship with her kids on solid ground, the chef served up some details on how a working mom keeps love alive too.
So what's their secret? Would you believe, after almost 12 years of marriage, Cat and Jennifer still visit marriage workshops? And they don't consider that a problem at all. For Cora, it's more like preventative maintenance for your marriage:
We went through a really tough year last year because we just finished having babies, and we were trying to get hormones out of our system. And with our kids being so young, it's easy to get disconnected.
Definitely make sure you have a date night during the week. It's always good if you can get some preventative counseling or, you know, to have a life coach who can help you with some of the tough spots. There's nothing wrong with that at all.
Working on communication is really the hardest thing -- having kids, being stressed. That's where I think counseling can really help you workshop together. We just did a great workshop here, and it helps you reconnect. We got away for a couple of days from the kids and just had time together.
She's got a point. My knee jerk reaction is that marriage counseling is a sign that things are going wrong in a marriage. But when you spend as much time apart as working parents do (or in Cat and Jennifer's case, a traveling working mom and a stay-at-home mom), all it takes is one screw-up and there's so little time to fix it that "things are going wrong" before you have a chance to say boo. If you seek out counseling before it goes wrong, no one ever gets to that point.
Would you seek marriage counseling when your marriage was going well?