When I was in my 20's, I played travel tennis on a pairs team. Not exactly pro, in fact way below the pro level, but I could earn cash and gifts for playing. I was "pretty good" if I do say so myself. I had an uncanny ability to hit the ball in the racquet "sweet-spot" and spin the ball so it would bounce on the other side of the net and bounce back to me. This frustrated my opponents as they would run toward the ball only to miss it completely as it returned to me.
In our relationships we have a "sweet spot" also, and it feels wonderful to experience. It might be when you meet someone and they "get you." It could be when you watch your children share without your prompting and you feel pride. It could also be when your spouse offers to go to counseling for his addictive behaviors and he returns to you a changed man. These moments in time are amazing, and as a therapist, I get to watch these moments unfold on a daily basis. I love watching when my client's "light bulb" goes on and they truly understand what is wrong in their life can easily be changed by altering their perspective, changing their behavior, and committing to a new paradigm.
There is nothing more rewarding to me that to be "fired" from a client who has healed and no longer needs my services. Contrarily, there is nothing as sad as watching someone who refuses to change, won't consider another's feelings, and stands firmly against resolution. These relationships are doomed and no amount of therapy will help someone who refuses to change.
I tell my clients that people only come to
couple's therapy for two reasons:
To make positive changes in their relationship,
or to terminate the relationship.
I usually can tell which of the couple is interested in what outcome pretty early in the therapeutic process. Sometimes, one person has another relationship (or hope of one) pulling them away from their current relationship. Sometimes, a person is just tired of fighting with no resolution. Other times, there is abuse or addiction present that the other isn't willing to stop. This battle of trying to convince someone to stay when they have no intention of staying can drag the process of separation on for months, even years. Unfortunately, the one who is fighting for the salvation of the relationship is more invested in it, and ultimately has a lot more to loose, and will hold on as long as they can.
Imagine Pepe'-Le-Pew and the cat (see photo). In this cartoon, Pepe' thinks he is in love with another skunk, but the cat knows the truth and tries at every turn to get away from the amorous affections of Pepe'. This is what therapy can look like with someone who wants the relationship to work, and the other just wants to get away.
17Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you are doing is not good.
18"You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you,
for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone." Exodus 18:18
At Encouragers, we like when we can help couple's find the sweet spot in their relationships, and help when they also need to learn how to let go of the need to control someone who is bent on leaving.