Despite the amount of time they were at home with each other, Phil and Cynthia felt disconnected. Typically Cynthia expressed her disconnection, but in this couples counseling session, Phil said, “You’re not giving me much to engage with me.” Cynthia inquired and Phil said it occurred when he shared his desire to meet with his brother out of state and visit his aging mother. 

Cynthia expressed that it didn’t make sense, since in the age of coronavirus, he would be waving to his mother from a window outside her assisted living apartment. Phil responded, “It seems as if you make a suggestion and don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Cynthia agreed, saying “I give great advice and then get annoyed that you keep talking about it.” Phil found Cynthia’s approach off-putting—shutting down his desire to share about missing his mother and his concern for her isolation. Their discussion moved into exploring ways Phil could connect with his mother despite the distance.

Phil just wanted to talk about his mother and Cynthia thought he was looking for her advice. She was finally seeing how her misinterpretation played into their disconnection. She also acknowledged that she did this with others, including her sister. She was beginning to see the value of discussing issues and the problem of her unsolicited advice.