I Didn’t Know

Liz and Joe came to marriage counseling to address a number of issues. Their most pressing issue was a friendship that Liz developed two years ago with a male. Liz had numerous texts and extended phone calls with this male friend but claims she was never physical with Phil. Joe discovered these phone calls and text messages and wanted them to stop.

When Liz talked about her friendship with Phil, she talked about how easy it was to talk with him. He would listen for hours without telling Liz what to do. Liz had stopped talking with Joe years ago. Joe didn’t appear to be interested in what she had to say.

Joe responded to Liz’s explanation by saying in an accusatory tone, “You didn’t tell me!” Since this statement put Liz on the defensive, I had Joe restate his comment by saying, “I didn’t know.”

The missing link was Liz’s ability to skillfully tell Joe how disconnected she felt and Joe’s ability to hear this and work on his connection. This is the feedback loop that successful couples have—the ability to give feedback about what one needs and the partner’s ability to respond to that need.