Stuart and Jamie
This couple came to CFR because Stuart’s drinking had become a problem in their relationship. Jamie had told Stuart that she was leaving if he didn’t stop. Every time Stuart had a drink a fight would follow. Jamie accused him of being a drunk while Stuart believed that he was an adult and could drink whenever he wanted.
When they were able to discuss their feelings about the issue they realized something entirely new about their relationship. Jamie was frightened by Stuart’s drinking. Her fear was driving her anger. Stuart felt controlled and criticized by Jamie’s anger. When Stuart saw Jamie’s fear, he realized it wasn’t his desire to scare her. She suddenly felt heard and was able to create more safety in the relationship so they could talk more easily about their behaviors.
Allison and Jessica
This couple decided to come to couples counseling because sexual intimacy had disappeared from their relationship. Though they loved each other very much, neither would talk about the issue, and both had become depressed about the state of things. Allison had felt abandoned by Jessica at the time of her father’s death. She had never spoke of it. Jessica was unaware of Allison’s hurt feelings and wanted a chance to repair things. After a few sessions they realized how much they longed for each other but felt it was too risky to reach out for comfort.
Couples therapy provided a safe place for them to reconnect and become intimate again.
Jim and Sandy
After 30 years of marriage this couple came to therapy about the affair that Sandy recently found out about. Jim insisted it was only one night and couldn’t understand why Sandy was so upset. Sandy cried for days and was intent on finding out every detail about the affair and the other woman. She began pouring through all of Jim’s phone records and credit card bills. They became so angry at each other it was hard for them to stay in the same house. In therapy they learned about all the things that had led to the affair. They had been trapped by a negative cycle of communicating for a very long time. The relationship that was once very fulfilling had become nearly impossible for both. They soon became aware of how they were each contributing to that negative interaction and how both were about ready to go outside the relationship to have their needs met. Each person expressed his and her desire for love that seemed to have vanished. Hearing their partner’s stories allowed the tension between them to ease so that more of the underlying problems could be discussed.
Many therapists will report it takes years for couples to recover from the hurt of an affair. Within a few months this couple felt so understood by the other they felt re-energized to make the marriage better than it had ever been.