Before I started working as a couple therapist I had lots of preconceived ideas, all of them included a predetermined idea of what the couple would be like…….
Lots of shouting, lots of crying, if I’m honest I believed he would be wrong and she would be just difficult.
I believed I would almost have to referee, so why would anyone with these preconceptions choose to be a couple therapist?
Because I was intrigued, because I wanted to know how you go from being in love, heart and flowers, from “let’s get married, and have children, and stay together forever”
To being with someone, you don’t like, who hurts you, who makes you cry, who destroys your trust.
How did this break? , where did it go wrong? How did it happen?
So when and how did it go wrong? Well let’s start at the beginning. …… so let’s call our couple. Sally and Mark (these are a fictional couple,).
So Sally (27yrs.old) Met Mark (28yrs.old) at work, they both worked in the same office. They got together on a staff night out. Sally had just ended a long relationship and wasn’t looking for anything, Mark had been single for some time. Sally had her own rented flat, Mark flat shared with his mates, or stayed with his single dad. .
They began to date, it was a real passionate relationship, lots of long Sunday lay- ins, weekends away, nights out with friends Mark was such good fun.
Sally mum was not so impressed with Mark, but didn’t say anything because of how wrong she was about Sally previous relationship, even though Sally told her mum and anyone who would listen Mark is the one, “he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with”.
Sally enjoyed the relationship as it was in contrast to her previous long term relationship with Richard her ex.
Richard and Sally met when they were both at university, their first night out in fresher’s week, and they were hooked, very passionate, they went to festivals together, they spent every moment they could together.
They would take turns during their uni break to go to each other’s family homes, both families really liked each of them. That’s is to say, Sally mum really liked Richard, he was kind and loving towards Sally and very protective, what’s not to like? Sally’s dad when he met Richard wasn’t as happy, he felt Sally should have gone through university and started work before she got into a relationship.
What did he know, he met and married his wife when they were in their early 20s and had sally and her older sister Megan within 3 years of being married, mum had to stop work so dad had to work long hours, they were always struggling to pay for things, this caused arguments and the girls lived with this most of their childhood, dad angry, mum sulking at least Sally wasn’t that stupid. Richard was fun, he was always making her giggle, and he is nothing like dad, thank goodness. Richards family were completely different, his dad left when he was only 2 years old, his mum brought him and his younger brother up alone, they had nothing but they did have a happy home, even though mum struggled financially, she made them understand responsibility and to respect and manage their finances.
They left university and rented a flat close to work, after being together for 5 years, Sally’s friends and family began the usual questions, the societal questions we ask all couples. “So when are you two getting married?”…” it’s time we heard the pitter patter of tiny feet “.the pressure begins, Sally asks Richard, “so where is this going?”, “what is it we are doing?” Richard starts to feel the pressure, he’s not ready yet for this commitment, but he loves Sally so he doesn’t say, so he starts to withdraw from Sally. It seems their only conversations now are around, marriage, weddings and children. Richard finds this difficult, he knows these things cost money, he wants to make sure they are financially ok first, Sally is less concerned, “mum managed it ok, we didn’t have a bad childhood”
Over the next few months, they start to argue and fall out more than ever, they begin to spend more time apart, Richard at work, Sally out with friends. When they’re home, they don’t talk, Sally tells friends Richard is really controlling, she feels he makes all the decisions, Richard feels really lonely, one afternoon one of his colleagues notices he is sitting staring out the window, she says “ penny for them ……” Richard jumps and sees Becky, from finance at his desk, the following day, they’re having lunch in costa coffee, giggling.
So Sally tells mark her awful story of how her last relationship ended because her ex was a lying cheat, who ran off with Becky from finance, and how she was such a good partner and he treated her so badly, Mark is saddened by this awful story of infidelity, and assures Sally he is not like that, Sally tells Mark I know, but I am now so insecure “I know you would never cheat on me “
Mark, is so different to Richard, he is happy go lucky, he doesn’t stress the small stuff, as long as he can pay his rent and have enough to go have a beer with his friends at the weekend that’s his only need, Mark was all about the fun….
The last serious relationship Mark had was in his late teens early 20s, with Molly, it lasted all of 2 years on and off, she was so clingy, wanting to know where he is, who he is with, what time he was going to be home.
So Mark told his dad, about Molly, his dad said Mark she will drive you mad, end it with her you need to enjoy yourself and have fun not get strapped down to a girl, “so your oats”.
“ look what happened with me and your mum, we probably would have been ok had she not got pregnant so early in or relationship, I had to marry her then, her dad would have hunted me down, she then had you and Jo, straight after Lydia was born, all I wanted was some fun, she Kept getting pregnant.
Look at me now, still young free and single, I know Lydia and Jo don’t have anything to do with me, it’s because your mother poisoned their minds against me, saying I ran off, telling them I had a drink problem, just because I liked to go out now and again, when I met Bev, me and your mum where not getting on, she was always moaning about one thing or another, it’s enough to drive a man mad, your mum threw me out because I wasn’t earning enough, not like her husband now, who spoils her rotten. Mark, don’t get trapped, play the field my son, and don’t get lumbered. Mark got on really well with his dad but he did feel sorry for him because he spent all his time alone, he hardly went out these days because he can’t afford it not since him and Bev split, she was the one who worked, so it’s hard for his dad.
Sally met Marks dad, she told her mum she didn’t much like him, she thought he was a bit lazy and wasn’t respectful of women, “thank god Mark is not like that, his mum is lovely though, she has a new husband he is lovely, he treats her like a queen, and Jo and Lydia really like him as does Mark, but he thinks he’s bit of a wimp to his mum, and that mum takes advantage of this, I think he’s lovely”.
So mark kept away from long term relationships and played the field, the first night he met Sally she had had a few drinks, was dancing and looked amazing, she was funny ,bright and stunning, mark was hooked . He knew they were going to have lots of fun, after all she said, she didn’t want anything serious , so how lucky are they that they have found each other !!
So couple therapy ……. Do we need it?
If you are struggling with your relationship, ask me a question, email it to me at
it will go on my website, let’s see if we can help.