After months of marriage counseling, Jennifer now felt supported by her husband Sean when she talked about Will—her adult son from her first marriage—who struggles with opiate addiction. Nonetheless, Jennifer was still bothered by the years Sean was not supportive, and expressed reservations about staying in the marriage.
Sean said, “You need to get over the past.” I told Sean he was being defensive since Jennifer was still unresolved by the lack of support over the years.
Sean now listened when Jennifer vented about Will, acknowledging how difficult it is to deal with a drug-addicted son. Now he needed to listen to how difficult it was not having his support for so many years.
When Jennifer previously complained about Will, Sean would also talk negatively about Will. Sean thought he was showing his support but it had the opposite effect. Jennifer felt Sean was criticizing her biological son. Sean now understood it was like “stoking a fire”.
Jennifer wasn’t going to get over her resentment from the past until she was able to express it, with nothing as powerful as expressing her feelings towards the source. Sean expressed regret for not being there for her. He was committed to being supportive now, whether it was about Will or himself.