Dr. Larry Cohen (856) 352-5428
Last week I had introductory coaching sessions with two separate couples who while in our meetings behaved in similar ways. Both couples displayed overt anger and disrespect toward one another. they all seemed to be 'demonstrating’ how much disrespect and anger existed within their relationships. couples don’t often present for couples coaching so close to what I assessed as the end of the line. Couples come to me with disagreements and dysfunctional ways of communicating, but since they are presenting for couples coaching together, the assumption is that both partners have an interest in continuing the relationship. I doubted this was the case with either of these couples.
The first couple appeared to be in serious trouble. The man was somewhat quiet, and I got the feeling he did not understand why he was in my office. His fiancé, however, was angry throughout the session and was disrespectful toward him repeatedly. Her need, which appeared to be directly related to her screaming, was for him to change. She wanted him to share more with her, and not stay quiet as much as he does. I learned that she had been mandated attend anger management counseling 2 separate times in her life, which at face value, I could understand. Throughout, the man didn’t quite understand what changes she wanted him to make, and the more she screamed, the more humiliated he became. During the session, very little was accomplished, and I was convinced that I would not see them again.
The second couple behaved better than the first during their session, but not by much. Newly married after a 10-year relationship, they were now arguing much of the time, and the woman expressed feeling disrespected by her spouse. He stated that he wasn’t sure how he was going to continue in the relationship, that she constantly blamed him for things he either didn’t understand or were out of his control.
I scheduled return appointments for each couple – one right after the other - that took place tonight.
The woman from couple two called me this morning stating that she was not going to attend the session, that she was so mad at her spouse she didn’t see the point of coming.
I didn’t really expect couple one, who I had scheduled for 8 pm, to show up for their appointment at all. Surprisingly, couple one attended their 8 pm appointment, and the female from couple two attended the appointment she said she was not going to attend.
This week, it was couple two who behaved badly; they ripped into each other, blamed each other, threatened divorce (both at some point). We did make progress, and they agreed to work hard on not picking at each other or spitting venom at each other. They also agreed that threatening divorce would no longer be aloud unless they were serious and ready to move forward. They walked in hating each other and left committed to using a few tools aimed at saving their marriage.
Since couple one behaved so poorly during our first session, I met with each party privately for 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. I needed to ask a question: given how badly they behaved and treated one another during our first meeting, were they committed to working on the relationship, or was their relationship over? Both parties strongly stated that they loved the other and that they were both absolutely committed to the relationship.
I was surprised both times. I learned that love, like Kelp, survives even when it seems impossible. Who knew that love and commitment possessed such resiliency?
To successfully repair and rebuild any relationship, I only need to know that each partner is committed to the other and that both parties are committed to making it work. Other than that, I seem to know very little about the incredible strength and resiliency of love and commitment.