The dream that helped Damien understand the trap he was in, fearing commitment and choices was the first of a series that helped him prepare to propose to his girlfriend and adjust his relationship with his mother. Now he was ready to propose, but how would his mother react? The eldest of three children, Damien felt responsible for his mother’s welfare. His younger siblings were in college and his father wasn’t reliable. Damien enjoyed getting advice on ‘the right thing to do,’ from his mother, who also took care of him in ways that made their bond special. He knew his mother wanted him to marry a girl that came from the same ethnic and religious background. There was nothing more important to him than his prospective wife and mother getting along. Would his mother approve of Leila? Would they find a way of relating without making him choose between them? Would Leila be okay with him visiting his mother after church every Sunday? Would Leila be okay with him continuing to take care of his mother’s car insurance payments?
Recently a woman brought her male partner into therapy to make him confess to seeing other women, because she 'knew' he was playing around. You can guess how that went down! He felt cornered as if he had been forced into a confessional in the guise of having 'therapy' which is generally considered useful and validating. She felt vindicated that I was seeing the lying side of him, while frustrated that I wasn't browbeating him into admitting what she already 'knew' about his transgressions. I felt like I was being put in the role of a principal of a school with a teacher bringing me a naughty boy to be punished - unwilling to take on that mantle. Couples therapy often fails to take off because the intentions of one or other of the partners is to make the other feel bad. They say they want to work on the relationship but when it comes down to it, the partner that instigated the therapy usually wants to shame, blame and reclaim the control.
Three months before his wedding 35 year-old Damien came home from working as a lab technician tired, grumpy and dreading the thought of having to propose to his girlfriend or else lose her. He hated the idea of making that decision only to find that there were better fish in the sea. He thought very highly of 32-year-old Physical Therapist Leila, but didn’t want to make that final commitment. It felt like he was imprisoning himself for life. The stress was unbearable.
Does it bother you when you catch your partner flirting with your best friend? Do you swing from thinking it's good that they are pals, to wondering if both of them are betraying you? It must be very uncomfortable for you to be caught in this trap. Do you confront one or other and risk being seen as overly sensitive or jealous? What if you hurt one or both when they feel that you mistrust them and that the friendship and romantic relationship are in jepoardy? Do you wait to see what develops? Do you nip things in the bud?