Pete and Rebecca’s relationship was strained. This was the second marriage for each of them and they both had adult children. Rebecca’s daughter lived with them post-college but struggled with Pete. The daughter seemed to have difficulty accepting her mother’s new spouse.
The couple came in for an emergency session after a blowup. Pete thought Rebecca was allowing the daughter to get in the middle of their relationship. Rebecca disagreed and was determined to share her growing confidence as a person, including being more assertive. Pete wasn’t emotionally supporting his wife’s new-found self. It’s true that Rebecca was initially meek in the relationship, and now her voice was strengthening. The relationship dynamics were different from when they first got together. Pete needed to get clear whether he could be there emotionally for Rebecca, and Rebecca needed to decide whether his emotional support was adequate. There was currently so much tension, they were deciding whether to stay together or not.
Although the outcome was unclear, I asked them not to make any rash decisions; rather, I hoped they could tolerate this uncertainty. I’d see them at their next scheduled appointment and we could try to work on how they understood their changing positions. Sometimes couples counseling is like untangling a ball of yarn. It can be frustrating and take time to sort it out, but that doesn’t always mean it’s over.