How to Win at Couples Therapy


Yes, couples therapy continues with the Stork.  Which makes it, I don’t know…about 4 months now.  And of course, couples therapy would not be continuing if I were not winning.

How to win?  You have to convince both the therapist and your partner that you are not the problem, or at least not the biggest problem, and therefore the focus should not be on you and your pathology, no matter how crazy that pathology might be.

Believe me, that kind of bullshit requires a level of creativity you can only reach if you have, say, an MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College.

Spin.  Since I am quitting producing theatre, I’m now considering a career in spin.  I will open a coaching practice on winning at couples therapy.  It might not save your marriage, but it will certainly keep you from killing either the therapist or your partner, which is a huge plus.

How, might you ask, did I pull this one off?  Well, I had a leg to stand on.  And, I am both extremely persuasive and relentless, which help.  The leg to stand on:  my partner had something she really needed to atone for.  I mean, one could realistically say that she needed to change.  The fact that she is genuinely atoning, and is genuinely sorry, does not change the fact that I am milking this one for all that it’s worth.

Then, there’s the Stork.  I flat out argue both metaphysics and psychological theory with him, and I continually tell him he’s preaching to the choir, and then I get really funny.  He likes the funny times.  And he’s in love with concepts, and he keeps telling both me and my partner how psychologically sophisticated we are, so I guess he likes the intellectual arguments, too.  (I once kept an individual therapist jumping through hoops for two years before she finally said, “I know you’ve been having a really good time testing me, but I think it’s time you did some work.”  So busted.)

So, I am winning at couples therapy.  Unfortunately, I love my partner and I realize the day is fast approaching when I will have to share focus and blame, but I want to state, for the record, that I will not go willingly into that dark night.  There are lots of darknesses I have embraced, endured and recovered from, but this one, no sir.  I am going to keep the focus on her for as long as possible.

I should also say, for the record, that when we’re not in couples therapy the focus is still on her more than her share of the time, but not all the time, and I do apologize when I know I’m wrong (even though I rarely am…that’s a joke) and make attempts to show, through my actions, that I’m still in this, with effort and attention.  I don’t want to talk about it, but I do try to show it.  She does the talking.  “I can tell you’re really trying,” she says.

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” I answer.  Because I have no intimacy issues.

You might wonder how I get away with this.  Well, I did plan a birthday for her, took her to Maine and out to dinner, endured watching her open presents I’d very carefully chosen (I like to carefully choose presents and leave them around for her to open when I’m not there), and was generally emotionally present for the whole thing.  It was a bit like running a triathlon three times in a row.

When I was 19 I met Henry Hawkins, author of The Five of Me.  (Yes, he was the male Sybil and lived in my apartment complex in Arizona.) He asked to read my poetry and told me I denied sensitivity with the greatest sensitivity.

Which just goes to show that I have changed not at all in the intervening lifetime.

How long can I continue to win at couples therapy?  Well, stay posted.  I’m hoping at least until June 8, which is our 25th anniversary.  I may just give my partner a card that says, “I am now willing to call a non-compete in couples therapy.”

I wonder if she’ll like that or if she’ll just want to shoot me.

 

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