Jeff and Diane were in trouble. Diane was questioning whether to continue the marriage. Jeff was critical and she had enough. In couples counseling we focused on Jeff’s criticism and worked on minimizing it, with the hope of eliminating it. Jeff wasn’t quite aware that he was critical. He could also be dogmatic—insisting that he was right.
Nowadays Jeff is rarely critical. However, what recently got revealed in our counseling was Diane’s expectations of Jeff. This issue wasn’t that she had expectations, but that she wasn’t expressing her expectations. Ultimately she would judge him for not knowing what she wanted.
We talked about the importance of Diane verbalizing her expectations. In this way, Jeff could meet those expectations without constantly disappointing. He could also get sensitized over time to what was important for Diane.
As Diane improved her assertiveness—no longer expecting Jeff to read her mind—this couple was turning a corner. The relationship dynamics were being unveiled and changing. Couples counseling was becoming less crucial. With their newfound awareness, they were moving to making changes on their own.