- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Couples Therapy Breakthrough?

“All right, I’m glad you both came. I’m glad you’ve both committed to the process. The sign of a healthy relationship is when the people in the relationship acknowledge that its health is not a given and that you have to work consistently at improving it. Emmett, I’m picking up from your body language a sense that you may not be on board with that.”
“No, I’m fine. Actually, I’ve been great. We’ve been great. Everything is great.”
“Is that how you feel, Fanny?”
“I wouldn’t say great. Actually, I wouldn’t say that at all.”
“What are you talking about, baby? We’ve been great.”
“You don’t speak for me. I don’t think ‘we’ve’ been great.”

“Go with that, Fanny.”
“Emmett’s been tough to deal with lately. There’s been so much undependability.”
“What undependability? I said I’d keep to a schedule, and I do.”
“I never know what your schedule is. Last month you’d keep me up late at night, you’d tell me you were going to be there one night and then you’re not, then I’m supposed to meet you at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then you tell me you can only give me seven innings of your time at a time.”
“Baby, you know I work when they tell me to work. I can’t control the time. I can’t control the weather. You’re gonna blame when it rains?”
“And I don’t even know what day it is with you sometimes. You told me to come see you early in the afternoon on the last day of August and I get there and everybody’s telling me, ‘no, Fanny, this isn’t August 31, it’s April 11 [1].’ I feel like you’re gaslighting me.”
“Baby, I told you, I got crazy hours. I don’t always know what day it is either. I just need you to support me whatever day it is.”

“Emmett, do you think that unconditional support is a lot to ask of Fanny?”
“Fanny always told me that’s what I’d get.”
“And you don’t think you’re receiving it? Fanny right now is wearing your name on more than one article of clothing.”
“Fanny says I’m No. 1, but doesn’t treat me like I’m No. 1.”
“Fanny, do you think there’s a valid disconnect between your actions and Emmett’s perceptions?”
“Emmett, you’re always No. 1 to me, but lately you’ve been like No. 3 to everybody else. You make it tough for me to support you emotionally when you’re so difficult…”
“What? What am I difficult about?”
“So difficult to watch.”
“I’m difficult to watch? Why do you look at me so much, then?”
“Because I can’t look away.”

“What we have here is a classic codependency. Emmett, Fanny wants to stay focused on you, but you have to be watchable. And Fanny, Emmett wants to appreciate your appreciation, but you also have to transmit a message that’s clear.”
“Hear that, baby? You clearly don’t appreciate me!”
“I didn’t hear that. I hear that you think I owe you a big standing ovation every time you walk into my midst.”
“Why wouldn’t you applaud me? I’m Emmett! My name’s right there on that shirt! And my initials are on that hat!”
“Just because I love you and I’m loyal to you, it doesn’t mean I approve of everything you do.”

“Fanny, tell Emmett what your areas of concern are.”
“Emmett, you said this last month was gonna be different, and I believed you. I saw you were backsliding as early as that trip to Philadelphia, but you said, ‘naw, Fanny, it’s OK, smile, I got this.’”
“And I did. What about Washington?”
“What about Los Angeles? What about San Francisco?”
“Oh, so now I gotta be perfect for you to love me?”

“Emmett, Fanny’s already expressed love for you.”
“Fanny says that, but when I have tough times — and I admit I have my faults — where’s the love then?”
“The love is in my anger.”
“Whoa, I don’t get that at all.”

“Fanny, explain to Emmett what you mean.”
“Emmett, I can’t watch you when you’re the way you are with Los Angeles and San Francisco and pretend everything’s all right. I gotta let it out some way.”
“I wasn’t so bad with them. I stayed within one run almost all of those times.”
“That’s not all right! That’s the opposite of all right!
“Fine, you got me. I wasn’t at my best with them. But what about Washington?”
“Am I supposed to get excited every time you do the bare minimum of what you’re supposed to do?”
“Yes! Yes, you are! For better or for worse, remember?”
“I didn’t think there’d be this much worse!”

“OK, let’s calm down. I want you to each address this recurring theme we seem to have in which you, Fanny, reach what might be described as a breaking point with Emmett, and in which you, Emmett, respond without necessarily grasping the core of Fanny’s volatility. Fanny?”
“I get upset sometimes, so I boo.”
“Emmett, how does that make you feel?”
“You wanna know how I feel? This is how I feel.”

“Emmett, we’ve spoken before about you making gestures at Fanny.”
“Well, I can’t boo back, so I gotta do something.”
“Why don’t you just do better?”
“I told you, I did good against Washington! Doesn’t that count for anything with you?”
“Why couldn’t you do good against Philadelphia? Or Los Angeles? Or San Francisco? You embarrassed me against San Francisco!”

“Please, let’s not cast judgments and let’s not go in circles. Fanny, how does that gesture Emmett made toward you make you feel, especially knowing what it means?”
“I feel Emmett doesn’t understand me and doesn’t care what I think. I feel like I’m supposed to be some sort of trained seal, uncritically clapping.”
“Why not a little more clapping? Why not recognize that I’m trying to do my best and that it doesn’t always work out? Why not motivate me with some praise instead of this constant criticism?”
“How much praise do you expect for a month like you’ve had?”

“Fanny, is it just the last month?”
“Every month is a struggle with Emmett. I know there were some good months, but they’re always hard.”
“Thank you. Thank you for recognizing that what I do is hard.”
“I do recognize that. But having to stand by while you let opportunity after opportunity go by and tell you how wonderful you are every damn day — it’s exhausting.”

“Emmett, you’re making the gesture again. I have to say it’s counterproductive.”
“Fanny criticizes me, I criticize Fanny. See if Fanny likes it.”
“I don’t like it. I’m this close to being done with Emmett.”
“Fanny’s always ‘I’m done, I’m done,’ but then it’s ‘let’s go, Emmett,’ like everything’s great. So how am I supposed to know that I did something wrong?”

“The two of you seem farther apart than when you walked in here. I have some exercises I’d like you each to partake in before our next session. Emmett, why are you making that gesture at me again?”
“I don’t have time for exercises. Look, baby, does this make it any better?”
“What is it?”
“Go ahead. Open it.”
“It’s…it’s a win! It’s a dramatic win [2]! It has five runs in the ninth! Oh, Emmett, I love it! I love you!”
“Yeah, baby, look closer.”
“Oh, another win! How come it’s smaller?”
“It’s only seven innings. I couldn’t fit a bigger one in there.”
“I still love it. And I still love you.”
“Yeah, baby. I love you, too. I mean, I’m sorry about making the gesture and whatever.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. You got me these two wins. That must mean we’re all good.”

“Listen, you two have deep-seated issues. Emmett, it’s very nice you that you gave Fanny this present, and Fanny, it’s very encouraging that you’re showing gratitude for this specific action, but I have to tell you, none of what’s bothering either one of you is going to go away with two wins over Miami at the end of August.”
“April. One’s from April. Technically.”
“Regardless. A win here or a win there and the surge of positive emotion it briefly brings to the fore isn’t the same as a long-term answer.”
“Emmett, I’m going to be there for you all of September and into October starting tomorrow night!”
“Uh, make it the next night.”
“I thought you were scheduled for September 1.”
“Rain, baby.”
“Again? Aw, I don’t care. These wins are so gorgeous. I wanna see how they look with this shirt and this cap.”

“Our time is up.”