She: Do you love me?
He: When we were married, I said I loved you. If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.
“Ha! A waste of time. When it’s over, it’s over”, said the lady who used to cut my hair, when I told her I was planning to switch careers and pursue a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Apparently, she was speaking from experience.
But think about it. Does her experience predict the outcomes for other people who want to save their damaged relationships? Of course not. Any couple who are both equally motivated to save their relationship, knowing what they want to accomplish, can make it happen. In addition, good couples therapy can go farther. It can be a wonderful learning and personal growth experience.
To be fair to my barber, she may have been right in certain cases: for example, when a wife has been pleading for years to be heard, while her husband refuses to take her seriously and does not believe she’d ever leave. And, one fine day, to his shock and amazement, she up and says, “I’ve had enough. I’m done.” In my experience doing counseling with male-female couples, it’s usually the male who is on the receiving end of the emotional bombshell.
One can imagine the hurt and rejection that was felt for many long years by her, and the sadness, distress, the sense of failure and confusion that falls on the person who realizes what he’s done, and that there’s no going back.
No one should have to go through this kind of anguish. And yet, year after, generation after generation, century after century, people – mostly men – continue to make this fatal error. It’s a kind of emotional blindness. Blindness to the history of billions of failed relationships all over the world, blindness to what’s happening in the present and to the probable consequences of being negligent and insensitive.
One possible explanation is that men, generally speaking across nearly all cultures, do not appreciate the importance of nurturing a relationship the way women understand it. The result is that men and women develop differing expectations and values around relationship and marriage. Unless these differences are addressed and resolved, there will be trouble.
The good news is that a qualified couples therapist can help. In addition to working with many couples, I’ve given workshops on communication, conflict resolution and stress management since 2004. If you’re in a troubled relationship, don’t wait till it’s too late. Call me. The number is 219-309-3928. I’d be honored to be of service.
Thanks for reading!