Tim attended a couples counseling session by himself because his wife Debbie was staying home with their sick 9 year old son Bobby. The parents weren’t confident Bobby was truly sick, so Debbie said to their son “You know if I can’t go to work today, it’s going to cost us money.”
Tim didn’t like the guilt-inducing parenting comment, but decided not to say anything.
Tim said that he wanted to say something, but knew if he did, the conversation would blow up. He also knew by not sharing incidents that bothered him, he would eventually explode. He was looking for direction.
Tim disclosed when he grew up, his parents routinely used guilt to influence his behavior. This typically made him feel bad about himself and didn’t want them to parent the same way.
He needed to express his feelings to Debbie about this incident, without criticizing her. I role modeled how to do this and then had Tim practice. This session clarified the essence of couples counseling—teaching couples to express themselves effectively—a skill rarely taught in school, families-of-origin or the media.