Her mother’s death was the hardest event Kristin ever went through. Kristin supported her mother during her cancer treatments and missed her mother deeply. Although she died a number of years ago, she still resented her husband Mike for not being there for her. She felt so alone.
In couples counseling, Kristin talked about the lack of support throughout their relationship, but her mother’s death was the final straw. Since Mike compartmentalized his own difficulties, he often ignored her difficulties, sometimes inappropriately trying to distract her.
Kristin just wanted to feel Mike’s support. He would sometimes reassure her that “Everything will be okay,” which didn’t comfort her. He would also say, “What can I do for you?” This comment also didn’t work, since there wasn’t anything she needed him to do other than emotionally support her.
Mike said he must be missing a chromosome, since he didn’t get how to support her. Kristin said, “I just need you to listen to me and feel the pain that I experience. Listen to me as if nothing else is going on in the world, maybe hold my hand or give me a hug, and occasionally ask how I’m feeling.”
Mike wasn’t missing a chromosome. He just needed to learn how to emotionally support his wife when she was going through a difficult time—nobody ever taught him.