Colin and Lauren had an awful relationship. Lauren initially described her relationship as toxic. She said it was unhealthy, dysfunctional, and included screaming and swearing. Since their kids were in and approaching college, Lauren questioned the purpose of staying. She was quite disconnected, appearing almost shell shocked.
Despite this history, they engaged in a few months of couples counseling, and appeared to be making progress. They addressed issues as they emerged and addressed unfinished disasters from the past that still impacted their relationship.
They recently returned from a vacation, in which a few incidents occurred, and began doubting their progress. They didn’t process the incidents during the vacation, since Lauren was concerned about ruining the rest of the vacation. But when Lauren brought up each incident in our counseling session, Colin clearly understood what she was upset about and expressed genuine remorse for making her upset.
Colin was absorbing Lauren’s feedback and really feeling badly for hurting her. He seemed genuinely committed to changing. This gave me a strong sense they could make it—even overcoming decades of toxicity.