Sue and Eric were making very nice progress in couples counseling, and in reviewing their improvements, they began to talk about their families. Sue talked about how her mother was constantly on her dad—name-calling and critiquing him, e.g., regularly telling him that he wasn’t doing enough.
Eric talked about his dad being authoritarian, e.g., his way or the highway. His dad could also be rude and controlling. Both Sue and Eric were struck by how many familial dynamics they had incorporated into their own marital interactions.
They were no longer treating each other disrespectfully, but making this connection amplified their desire to overcome these generational patterns. Having this insight didn’t create the change but motivated them to deepen the change.