How One Couple Began to Change
By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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Home was anything but serene.
Husband and wife spoke to each other only for business matters… bills to pay, people to contact, stuff to take care of.
Husband typically worked late into the night. Wife was having a furtive affair with her trainer. Teenage daughter was busy with her friends. Younger son seemed withdrawn. The housekeeper was threatening to quit.
With all the tension in the air, something was bound to happen. It was just a matter of time.
It started off innocuously enough on open school night. At his wife’s insistence, the husband attended.
“What a smart, lovely boy Max is,” reported his teacher. “And yet, sometimes he looks terribly unhappy. Is there anything wrong at home?” she inquired.
“No, no; everything’s fine,” the husband said in his reassuring tone.
“What do you mean he looks unhappy,” inquired the wife, her head throbbing with concern.
“I don’t really know,” responded the teacher. “He just easily gets frustrated, then seems so sad.”
The teacher went on to repeat how smart Max was but that he wasn’t working up to his potential. The parents said nothing more.
The wife held her tongue until they were safely inside the car. Her words had an intensity that the husband had never heard before. “MAX NEEDS A FATHER.”
“What are you getting so excited about,” retorted the husband. “So he’s not living up to his potential. Teachers say that about a lot of kids.”
“EVERYTHING IS FINE AT HOME! Do you really believe that? If everything’s so fine, why is this family falling apart?”
“Calm down! You’re getting hysterical. What’s the matter with you?”
“You! You’re the matter with me. You don’t care what’s happening with this family. Just deny everything. Keep working and all is fine.”
This time the husband exploded.
“Me? What about you? You’re the one home all day with nothing to do. You’ve got a housekeeper. So what else do you have to do except take care of the kids?”
He was driving dangerously fast now.
“Calm down! You’ll get us both killed,” screamed the wife, as she braced herself for a collision.
A loud silence enveloped the car for the rest of the trip home. Both husband and wife were recalling past transgressions, too dangerous to express. When they arrived home, the husband went back to work; the wife poured herself a hefty drink.
The following evening, the wife approached the husband saying, “You know we can’t go on like this.”
“Just drop it already, will you!”
The wife sighed. A lifetime of disappointments were racing through her mind. Then, she mustered up her courage and gave him an ultimatum. “It’s either the lawyer’s office or the therapist’s office. The decision is yours.”
He wanted neither. She pushed the matter. He still wouldn’t decide. She chose to make an appointment with me. She asked him to accompany her to the next session. He chose to do so.
And that’s how this couple began to honestly explore their relationship and work on bringing back the love they once had.
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.