A Problematic Thought

Justin and Anna were struggling over the weekend. Both have active professional lives, in addition to tending to their kids on the weekend. They struggled to balance family, couple, and individual time on the weekends.

Justin typically got up early on the weekends. Anna preferred to sleep in at least one of the weekend days. When Anna got up late on a Saturday and then asked to work out at the gym, Justin had a negative reaction. He didn’t have an issue with Anna taking care of her health but suspected her workout was going to interfere with his raking the yard and having sufficient family time. They didn’t talk the rest of the weekend.

Justin said to Anna in their next couples counseling session, ”You should have gotten up at 6:30 and worked out then.” Justin said that’s what he would have done if he wanted to work out. Anna said, “I get up early all week and don’t want to do the same on the weekends.” Justin insisted and Anna was peeved.

The problem was Justin was imposing his way of doing things on Anna. His thought was she should do what he would do. As long as he was thinking that way, he was going to be judging Anna.

I had them redo the conversation, and they smoothly negotiated raking time, workout time, and family time. He laughed at the end of the conversation and said, “She still should have gotten up at 6:30.” Even if this thought still existed, effective negotiating was much more effective than judging.