There was a husband and wife who argued…a lot. He wanted her to be more affectionate, more giving, and warmer. At one point, all he wanted was simple conversation. She fought against him, saying he was needy, pushy, and that there was too much to do to simply sit and talk.

They went into couples counseling where he expressed his concerns. The therapist congratulated him on being an open, caring guy and the wife felt ganged up against.

They continued to argue until the gap between them became so great they split up. They didn’t divorce—only lived apart—and they each went to individual therapy.

After a year, they went back to couples counseling, and within six months, they moved back in together.

What happened?

While in individual therapy, he learned that he was too needy, even though it seemed to him that what he was asking for was reasonable. He realized he was depending on her for his well-being and what he thought a couple “should be.” Meanwhile, she realized she was being distant in the same way her mother had been with her father. She had inadvertently created the same relationship with her husband that her parents had.

During the separation, he learned to become more reliant on himself for his happiness. He spent more time with friends and went to vocational school to learn a new trade. She started developing healthy friendships and made a commitment to engage more with her husband.

Separately, they had done the work they needed to do that they couldn’t do together because they were too busy blaming each other. They had been so wrapped around each other, so dependent on each other, that they weren’t even aware of how much they needed to grow and work on themselves. With enough space for their individual work, they grew into a better, healthier relationship.

 

Practice:

I will stop blaming ______________ for _______________, and realize how I need to focus on becoming more _____________ in relation to him/her.