An unmarried couple has come for counseling, both previously married with children. They live separately in their own homes.
She has a graduate degree and works in a behavioral health system. He has less education and works in law enforcement. Her professional experience has given her knowledge about communication and conflict resolution that he does not possess. He is learning.
Their relationship has followed a dysfunctional pattern as long they’ve been together. It goes like this. They disagree about something, he is offended by her speech and attitude, and he takes things personally, becomes angry and shuts down. He believes that she always portrays herself as the relationship expert, and that she talks down to him. She tries to get him to open up, fails and then goes home in tears.
He is stuck in his knee-jerk reaction to her, which comes up whenever he perceives that she does not appreciate him or acknowledge his efforts. This goes back to his childhood. She is stuck in her identity as a fixer, whose mission in life is to repair the damage in other people. If she is not able to relate to people that way, she does not feel that she matters.
Looking at this problem superficially, one might wonder whether he needs to solve an ‘anger management’ problem, or an ‘it’s all about me’ problem. But it’s not that simple. She would also benefit from gaining insight into her own stuckness.
When I work with couples, I never identify one or the other person as the ‘problem.’ Both have a role to play.
Are you a ‘fixer? Do you tend to give advice whether it’s requested or not? If that’s your habit, you might wonder how that’s working out. And if you’re wondering whether something can be done about it, rest easy. It’s possible. If you’d like to learn more, please call 219-309-3928 for a free consultation. I’d be glad to be of service.
Thanks for reading!