As Roberta and Dan were concluding their marriage counseling sessions, we were reviewing their progress. Roberta shared that their 8 year old son Conor recently said, “Mommy, you and daddy don’t fight anymore.” There was much more comfort between Roberta and Dan, and when issues came up, they demonstrated skill working through their differences.
Eight year old Conor’s response reminded us that their conflict impacts others. I call this the ripple effect—throwing a stone into a pond creates extended ripples. Conor’s statements validated the couples readiness to discontinue marriage counseling, but reminded us the couple wasn’t the only one who was suffering.
The irony is that the majority of conflict between Roberta and Dan was about parenting Conor. He was a challenging kid and Dan sometimes took too harsh an approach. Roberta compensated by backing off more than she needed. Through our conversations, they were able to achieve a collaborative balance in their parenting, not only creating ease for the couple, but relief for the kids as well.