SHORT TERM MARRIAGE COUNSELING: FROM DRINKING AND CONROLLING TO INTIMACY AND CONNECTION (Permission by client granted; names and details changed.)
Jane, an attractive 48-year old and her husband of 9 years, Nick, 52, came into therapy because they wanted help to stop fighting so much, and they wanted to regain the joy that they once had with each other.
Sexually abused as a child by her uncle, Jane was often sad and anxious. It wasn’t hard to understand that she sometimes had a glass of wine to quell her anxieties and that she was also self-protective and very sensitive to feeling disrespected by others. Much of their fighting revolved around Jane’s drinking, which made Nick feel abandoned, unsafe and caused him to lecture Jane. In turn, Jane felt controlled and resented Nick’s lectures. She would shut down and retreat, often with a drink. Angered and hurt, Nick, attempted to argue with her and then hid in his work. This cycle repeated itself without resolve, each triggering the other’s sensitivity, creating more disconnection.
I helped Jane and Nick learn to communicate authentically and take responsibility for each of their own feelings. I helped Jane to honor her right to create her own life and voice her true feelings, while I helped Nick address his underlying fear of not being safe if he wasn’t in charge and on top of things.
Over the past 10 sessions, Jane and Nick have learned how to talk to each other directly without attacking. Nick understands his feelings better, and is learning to manage his fears rather than control Jane. Jane has learned that she has a right to be the manager of her own life. Instead of being resentful she says what she thinks. She is feeling more respected and heard. Consequently, intimacy is increasing, conflict is decreasing, and the couple is beginning to enjoy their marriage again.
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