This was the third stint of couples counseling for Rob and Amy. I often felt Rob didn’t want to be in couples counseling but felt compelled to be there, probably at Amy’s insistence. But in our last session, something different happened.
Rob started the session with how much he loved Amy. He talked about her as the most beautiful woman in the world and how he loved everything about her. I had never seen this level of adoration from him. It was so important to be with her that he badgered her to spend time together and sometimes got angry at the kids, who required much of Amy’s time. Rob’s behavior would show up as anger outbursts and criticism of the kids.
This did not create the coziness that Amy needed to want to spend time with Rob. Rob’s approach was to badger Amy for time and then react when she wasn’t responsive. It was a recipe for disaster.
I told Rob that his approach was ineffective. He needed to stop reacting when Amy didn’t have time for him and treat her so the she would want to spend time with him. He also needed to stop criticizing the kids, so that Amy didn’t feel compelled to come to their defense.
Rob’s outbursts of anger and criticism deterred any closeness from Amy. Instead, his desire to be close with her could be the catalyst to ending his poor behaviors.