Mary and John came to my office in the past fall. Both looked discouraged and were doubtful of their decision to come to the couple counseling session.
We began our conversation by talking about their concerns and hopes for the counseling sessions. Both talked about their efforts to make things better in their couple relationship. They said that not getting a preferred result made them feel frustrated, disappointed and doubtful. They felt it was hard to release their couple relationship from the grip of the problems.
They were concerned about their difficulty in listening to each other. They said “we work against each other. If one of us does something for the other one, the other party takes it negatively. We have become defensive and comfortable in retaliating, which hurt us more. Our intention is to fix the problem but any attempts we make works against us.”
Mary and John said, “We want to bring back what we used to have but it seems to be impossible”. They described how they met, what they liked about each other; what they appreciated about each other and what caused them to feel distanced and hurt.
They said “we used to have a strong emotional connection, but it seems to be all gone; our trust and faith on each other have gone down; anything we do is a problem for another one”. They were both in tears when they discovered how they were affected by ‘the emotional disconnection’.
They both expressed their commitment to do their best to understand how ‘the emotional disconnection’ was formed and how their actions and thinking contributed and fueled its formation. They wanted to be able to reconnect with one another again.
Despite their commitment to each other, Mary said she doesn’t have a faith that she would get the desired outcome. Mary expressed doubts about their abilities to repair their relationship. We spent a few sessions talking about what values Mary and John gave to their relationship. John and Mary shared their understanding and knowledge of each other and both were encouraged to search for their commonalities. Both identified their shared values as determination, persistence, honesty, and making things work. Our conversation led to the exploration of shared responsibility for what was done in the past. They both became interested in reconciliation and forgiveness. They were asked to listen to each other as if their best friend were talking to them. They were able to hear each other differently. Consequently they said they had a breakthrough and an epiphany.
The couple agreed to work together again; they wanted to bring back what they used to have. Mary and John shared stories that were evident of the times they experienced pain, hardship and joy together.
On the second last session, Mary and John came to my office with their son, Jimmy. They said ‘we want to hear what Jimmy has to say and what he noticed about our family interactions’. Jimmy was an 18-year-old boy going to university.
Jimmy shared his understanding of the recent developments in his parents’ interactions. He said that he was surprised to see that they were not talking at each other anymore. He was pleased with the absence of ‘arguments, competition, anger, and disappointments’ in the family. He said: “ they look happy with each other; they make me feel good about myself; their happiness makes me feel good about being part of this family; my relationship with my dad improved a lot; he spends time with me and asks me about school; he gives me advice that I think every son needs to get from his dad; my mom looks happier; she doesn’t cry anymore; she talks to me calmly; I feel good talking to my parents; I am not ashamed of being their son anymore”.
Mary and John also noticed some changes in Jimmy’s behaviors. They said, “ Jimmy stays home now; he invites his friends home; he tells us what he is up to; it feels that we are more involved with each other’s lives”.
We met for one more session to close our meetings. Mary and John told me what helped them rebuild their couple relationship. They said, ‘ We learned that it wasn’t OK with us to give up on what is important to us; we learned to synchronize our intentions and behaviors to save our relationship. We did not let our relationship die which makes us proud of ourselves”.
It was agreed that their wisdom and knowledge would be passed on to other couples that have similar difficulties in their lives.
If you would like to rebuild your couple relationship; or if you know anyone who would like to do so, please come visit me. For further info, please visit my website at www.taherehbarati.com
Looking forward to having a conversation with you!