Focusing on your strengths as a couple
Couples often seek me out after having gotten into the relationship equivalent of a head-on collision. A big mess, a lot of damage, a lot of pain. Bill and Laura were a couple like this. They were in their forties, and they were vaguely arty- looking, which made sense since Bill was a working musician and Laura was a painter. Their whole sad story soon came out. Laura had discovered that Bill had been having an affair with a woman who was a friend of theirs. She was devastated and furious. Bill felt tremendously guilty and terribly afraid that he would lose Laura. But he was also angry, because for years, he said, Laura hadn’t shown much interest in having sex with him.
When I was first starting out as a therapist, a scenario like this would have intimidated me. With problems like this—all the resentment and betrayal and broken trust—how could things ever heal? Thank God I’m not the kind of person who ever gives up hope, but at the beginning of my career I would have thought that the odds were definitely against a couple like Bill and Laura.
However I’ve learned something over the years, something that means I now look at couples I work with very differently. I’ve learned (more…)