This post is a continuation of an earlier post, “How Did We Get Here? (#1). The following dialog is a picture of what it might look to take “relationship stuckness” to the next level, regardless of what the outcome will be. Both of these dialogs are “composites”, based on my counseling work with married folks for the last 17 years. The setting, below, is a counseling office. The two people from the dialog in the earlier post, “How Did We Get Here?” have agreed to meet for counseling: one hoping for their relationship to continue; the other hoping to make this place and time a context for closure so that the relationship will be dissolved. Incidentally, this is an excerpt from the first counseling session, possibly the last. The “formalities” of beginning a counseling session have already been accomplished …(T) / Therapist: Sam, what do you want to happen? Sam / Husband: I want to keep our marriage. I want Jules to give me a chance to change, so I can prove to be a better husband who loves her well. (T): Then, look at Jules and tell her that. Sam: Jules, I want us to keep our marriage. Give me a chance to change, so I can prove to be a better husband. I want to love you well. (T): Jules, what do you want to happen? Jules: I want to do closure, here. Our marriage is over. We need to move on. The sooner, the better. (T): Then, look at Jules and tell him that. Jules: I want to do closure, here. Our marriage is over. We need to move on. The sooner, the better. (Silence) Sam: (Addressing therapist) Now, what? (T): I don’t know, Sam. What now? Sam: (Talking to Jules) Jules, I can make things better. I can’t fix it; what has happened has hurt you. I am sorry. But I want to know what I need to do to save our marriage. And, I will do it. Jules: I’ve never heard you say that you cannot fix “it” (words couched in sarcasm and anger). And tell me, Sam, what has happened that has hurt me? Sam: I have put work in front of you many, many, times. And when I am home, I have often checked out, going to my books, or my laptop, or spending time with my friends, instead of spending time with you. Jules: It is too late for you to save our marriage. I’m done. (T): We are almost out of time. Jules, for the sake of your own hope, for your own marriage … because this is your marriage, as well, for the sake of saving something that could be one of the best things that has ever happened to you, I need you to come back again, in one week, and meet with me and this man sitting next to you … not to do closure, but to sit in your pain with this selfish man who loves you, a man quite insensitive at times. I’ve sat with folks before, with similar wounds. Please do not be unwise, and throw away something that could become better than it ever was before. So, you’ll be back next week, and we will continue. Sam? Any problem with that? Good. Jules? Any problem with that? Good. See you next week.
Part of my writing style is, for both fiction and non-fiction, to leave things hanging a bit in limbo. My motive is not to be cruel but to accentuate reality. Reality is … that life has jagged edges. Things are not always smooth. And in this scenario above, I attempted to accentuate that healing does not always happen quickly. In the words of a psychotherapists I admired for her wisdom, “This might take a while.” We live in a fast-paced society, saturated with short-term gratification. But when relational wounds emerge, chances are they have developed over time. With that being said, the healing process can take a bit longer than a few weeks. It’s important to acknowledge that the future of Sam and Jules is unknown. Perhaps one of the more important truths, here, is that Sam is making an effort to save the marriage; and to some degree Jules is also making an effort to save the marriage. But we don’t know what is going to happen. In fact, it is a good way to end this two-part series “How Did We Get Here?”.