Television presenter Ben Fogle and his wife Marina have revealed how counselling has helped them communicate better and embrace their differences.
The couple were inspired to open up about their own marriage counselling experience after former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed earlier this month that she and husband Barack had visited a counsellor.
Ben is a former Countryfile presenter who has also hosted a variety of programmes for BBC, ITV and Sky and filmed around the world, and the pair have two children.
He told The Times: “Like all married couples, we have our ups and downs. We would be lying if we said it was always perfect, but we have learnt how to deal with our differences. When Marina suggested going to see a marriage counsellor, it felt like an admission that something was wrong, when it clearly wasn’t.
“Only now are we openly discussing the realities of mental health. We are taking it seriously. Talking openly with a third party defuses things before they become an issue. Like everything in life, you have to work at it. Just as you put effort into family, work or fitness, you also have to put the effort into a marriage.”
Marina added: “Our marriage isn’t always so perfect and I believe that far from this being a failure, seeking marriage counselling is one of the most constructive, forward-thinking actions we have done.”
The couple told The Times that they first sought counselling after their third child was still born, but that they then continued to visit the same therapist about their relationship too.
She said: “We visited a grief counsellor, whose wisdom, time, discretion and deep understanding of our emotions allowed us to process the wall of grief that appeared to be engulfing us. And because she was also a couples’ therapist, we ended up talking together and separately about our relationship, about how we were making each other feel. Confiding in someone impartial and whose time I was paying for rather than monopolising was a huge release.
Marina said the couple don’t visit their counsellor on a schedule, but their visits are always constructive.
“Ben and I have learnt a tremendous amount from our therapy sessions. I have learnt to embrace rather than resent the ways in which we are different. I have learnt that some things I don’t agree with, I just need to let go, that communication is everything
What I’ve realised is that it’s not about the amount of time you spend talking, it’s about what those chats achieve.
She added: “For us the hardest part was going to a session for the first time, acknowledging that we needed a bit of help. Nowadays I look forward to them.
“In the years that we have been seeking advice, we have applied the skills we’ve learnt there. We have emerged even stronger for it.”
To find a counsellor who can help you with relationships, visit our Therapist directory.