Blake originally came to me dealing with the pressures of school. He was a finance major at a big university and had a hard time balancing his work, school work and classes, his relationship with his parents, and his girlfriend. He reported that his relationship with his girlfriend is the most stressful, as they have been on and off for the past three months, and he felt that he couldn’t let the relationship end. He was willing to sacrifice all of his work and education to make her happy. He couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong so he decided to come to therapy. Blake and I soon created a therapeutic relationship to understand more of his story and how his life felt so incomplete. Blake was confused on why he was never good enough for women, why his friends called him “whipped,” and why he couldn’t get his time management in place to do well in school. As time went by Blake was able to see his codependent relationship was causing him a lot of stress. He hadn’t realized that he let his romantic relationship completely dictate his emotional well being. He wasn’t okay, if the relationship wasn’t okay. He saw that he identified with how his girlfriends viewed him.
This is what Blake had to say about therapy, “Every time I come in here I learn something new about myself. After seeing you I now see myself differently. I am ready to take some time for myself and not date for a while. Which of course made more girls want to be with me because I told them I don’t want to date. I feel a lot more equipped to tell girls what I want and what I don’t want.”
Laurel is a recent college graduate who is off into this new adult world! She reported that she has had a very difficult time “adulting.” She stated that she was doing a lot of work to build a healthy relationship with her significant other but could not for the life of her trust him. She didn’t understand what was happening. She gave some back story as that her mother had blamed her for a lot of things growing up and was incredibly controlling of everyone in the family. If you didn’t obey mom and do exactly what she wanted when she wanted, it would be a bit of a nightmare at home is how she described it. Her father eventually left the family when she was 9 years old and was left to fully take care of her mother herself and her emotional outbursts. She stated, “As much as this is important in my life, I don’t see how this is affecting my relationship now.” As we learned more about each other and developed a good therapeutic relationship, she started to see how these dots connected. She could not for the life of her trust that her husband wasn’t going to leave her, or that he was going where he said he was going to go. As much as this was a struggle for their relationship she learned something very valuable about herself. Laurel realized she had been putting off grieving the loss of her father walking out on her. We were able to get to the root of her anger, and start the grieving process.
This is what Laurel has to say about counseling, “This was very difficult for me to accept about myself, I didn’t realize I was carrying this for so long. I guess I felt like I had to be strong and take care of everyone else that I never even thought about taking care of myself. Now I am able to communicate with Brad* and explain what is happening. I would have never been able to have the skills I needed if I didn’t come and see you.” She was able to do some excercises at home with her husband, express her fears, and be more vulnerable with her loved ones than she ever had before. She was able to accept this loss, grieve the way she needed to for years, and continue a healthy relationship with her husband.
Ross* and Rachel’s* Story
Ross and Rachel came in because they were interested in getting married. They reported meeting each other in college, and not being able to take their eyes off of each other. They talked about how each of their families loved the other, and how they have been so excited to start this new journey together. However, they had a lot of issues they wanted to discuss because they got married. Rachel reported feeling alone, angry, and not emotionally connecting to Ross. She would come home and try to talk to Ross and everything in his life was just “It’s good,” “Not bad,” “I’m fine.” And this started to drive Rachel crazy! She felt she was loosing any emotional connection with her husband. This is when Rachel reached out to find a therapist. She called to see how couples counseling could help them feel more connected. After a brief online questionnaire and some symptom checking we were able to come up with a game plan to help them feel better connected. Ross, a very laid back guy didn’t seem to think there was a problem with anything, and he was only in counseling to appease Rachel. Rachel was so annoyed that he was not sharing his emotions with her, and she had no clue what it was he wanted. She didn’t know if he was interested in other women, or if there was something wrong with her, or if he even liked her anymore after being together for 2 years! There were a couple of therapy sessions where all three of us were just silent. Rachel had said everything she wanted to say, Ross did not respond in any way, and we waited to better understand Ross’s position. As the therapeutic relationship build Ross took a great risk said that he was worried about the marriage because he didn’t know if he could marry someone who wasn’t the same religion as he was. Rachel learned in the process that she made Ross feel unsafe to express his emotions because she would never discuss them with him just react. Ross learned that he was emotionally shut off to her because he had trust issues with women in his life in general. At this Rachel was able to change her perspective on how her reactions were damaging her emotional connection with her future husband. Ross was able to slowly trust Rachel a become more vulnerable and intimate with her emotionally. Their relationship became much more harmonious, and felt that they had the tools they needed to have a happy and successful marriage.
At the end of the last session Ross had this to say: “I really didn’t think counseling could help me, but Laura really let me speak in a way I felt I couldn’t before in the relationship. I feel much more confident handling conflict management with Rachel. I am excited to purpose to her in the future. We are so grateful we addressed these issues with you before we went into our marriage unprepared.”