Off to a Great Start

Claire and Greg were struggling. Married 17 years, their relationship was punctuated by arguments and cool silence. Greg escaped into his beer and sports on the weekends. He also talked negatively about Claire in front of the kids, which made Claire furious.

Claire initially brought up marriage counseling with Greg, but it took another explosion for him to schedule the appointment. After our first information-gathering session, the couple read a manual that I give couples, and they started to apply these skills immediately. In our second session, we reviewed their negative interactions over the past two weeks. In their third session, there weren’t any current negative interactions, so we reviewed a couple of unfinished incidents from the past, e.g., Claire throwing her wedding ring down the stairs.

Session four occurred a month later with the couple sharing a potential conflict they were able to repair. Claire started to attack Greg, but Greg responded, “We’re off to a rough start. Remember from our reading that if a conversation starts off negatively, there’s only a 4% likelihood to turn it around.” Claire laughed and corrected her initial statement. They shared interactions of getting closer, including an anniversary weekend away. We decided to meet again in three months to be sure they continued their gains.

It’s unusual for a couple with significant distress to progress this quickly, but it happens. We’ll see where they’re at in three months, but they’re off to a great start.