Long Island Marriage Counseling Blog_”I am right…

From Dr. Kramer – Give me a call now at 631-553-1476 to make an appointment or email me at Marriage Counseling Long Island.

At the LI Marriage Counseling Center, Huntington, NY, I often get a call from a spouse who says: “I want to come to marriage counseling with my spouse but I want to come in first and explain it all to you. You can see him next and then you can see us together.”

When a spouse has it all organized like that, I know the marriage is in serious trouble. The spouse who called is sure she is ‘right’ and the other has to change in order for the marriage to work.

I got such a call the other day. The wife came in to speak to me. She told me that her husband was overly attached to his mother and would not listen to her. He paid more attention to his mother than to her. In my mind, I labeled the husband a case of possible arrested development and then listened to the wife. She said: I know what is best for the children. I want them in bed at a specific bedtime. I want them to finish their meals. I want them to do all their homework before they watch television. That is the right way. My husband is too easy on them. He lets them watch TV before they do their homework and he lets them stay up later. When I confront him, he goes and calls his mother. She tells him what to do, not me.

Very clearly what I was hearing was a control struggle between the husband and wife. In the marital conflict, he could not stand up for his point of view and so called in his mother as an ally. Interestingly, both women were strong, determined nurses.

When the husband came into marriage counseling for an individual session, his point of view was quite different from his wife’s. He described her as rigid and controlling. His mother and father had maintained limits in his childhood but had given the children opportunity to bend the rules and feel free. He felt as if he had grown up fine. So why not bring his children up that way. His claim was that his wife was too dominating. He could not stand up to her. He went to his mother for guidance and help.

I started wondering whether or not this marriage could be saved by marriage counseling. I needed some leverage. Luckily, both spouses in this Long Island marriage wanted to find a way to make the marriage work. Unfortunately, they each wanted the other to change. That is not a winning hand. The only way to evolve a marriage is to get both spouses to agree to change, and to live by the principle – you cannot change another, only influence them.

What did I then do with this couple? In the couple’s time together in the marriage counseling, I was able to convince them of the effectiveness of negotiating differences around criteria. They began to talk seriously about each issue of the children’s upbringing, and listen to each other’s perspective. Slowly, over time, they began to understand and appreciate each other’s perspective. As they did that, sometimes one of them won out and sometimes another. They began to appreciate what each could add to the marriage.

If you have a similar situation and wish to discuss, please email me to the right or give me a call. Would love to help.

From Dr. Kramer – Give me a call now at 631-553-1476 to make an appointment or email me at Marriage Counseling Long Island.

Warmly, Diane

Dr. Diane Kramer, Psychologist
Long Island Marriage Counseling Center at Huntington, NY
75 Prospect St., Suite 103
Huntington, NY 11743
631-553-1476