Judy is the wife of a couple with whom I’ve been working. When I asked her what she wanted to accomplish in couples therapy, her response was, “I am a piano teacher and also play professionally. When I was first asked to judge at a piano competition, I felt somewhat intimidated. I wasn’t clear what I would be looking for. After listening to a multitude of children, most of the students at this level were able to play seventy pages of music without a mistake. The student who won the competition was the one that gave me goose bumps as I listened. That’s what I am looking for in my marriage.”
Unfortunately Judy endured decades of criticism in her thirty-one year relationship. Her husband Dave was prone to anger, easily annoyed and negative about most things. Judy’s efforts to change these behaviors were ineffective. She had endured Dave’s demeanor until the kids left home and decided that she had a choice whether to stay married or not.
Judy wasn’t going to experience goose bumps anytime soon, but needed a husband who wasn’t going to be critical of her. Our initial goal was to eliminate negativity in the relationship so the marriage could become a safe place again.