Long Island Marriage Counseling: Changing Old Patterns

by Dr. Diane Kramer on July 28, 2010

LI Marriage Counseling Center, Huntington, NY

“Long Island Marriage Counseling – Changing Old Patterns

Long Island Marriage Counseling – Marriage Counseling usually is for couples. Occasionally though, the story changes. Last week in my office in Huntington, NY, a couple came in to say that their marriage was on the rocks and divorce was imminent. The wife was the one who wanted the divorce because for more than thirty years, the husband acted critical and negative more than 90% of the time. He even yelled at the TV when he did not like what was on.

Imagine my surprise when the husband agreed with the problem as stated by his wife, and said: “I am 100% responsible. I need to change.” This situation is very rare, as you can imagine.

I asked the husband to come to the marriage counseling sessions by himself for awhile and he agreed.

When I started to see him, I pointed out that we develop our behavior patterns by modeling those around us. He must have had a very critical parent to have such a strong critical pattern. He identified the parent as his father. He said he was willing to change his critical patterns but did not think he could. As I listened to him, I also noticed that his breathing was very shallow. It was as if he was holding his breath until something negative happened and then he would explode. He had developed many stress related illnesses, probably related to his level of stress and lack of control over his fight or flight response.

We worked together to change his reactions to negative events. He agreed that he could not control those events though he would like to. He did remember getting punished for anything bad that happened by his father when he was young, whether he caused it or not. In any case, he was ready to change. I taught him to:
1. Recognize in his body when a negative event was happening.
2. Detach from the event as if stepping out of the picture.
3. Tell himself that “It is what it is. Anything that already happened is out of my control or influence. The best thing I can do is focus on how I want it different in the future and work on any part that is in my control or influence.”

He began that pattern and in the next session told me that things were much better with his wife, and his friends were ribbing him about his changes.

With that success behind us (and his agreement to practice the new pattern over and over), we started working on his health. I taught him to feel the sensations in his body and to regulate his breathing to very slow coherent breathing, as taught by Richard Brown, M.D. of Columbia University. His blood pressure began to come down and he reported improvement in some of his other symptoms.

At our last marriage counseling session, he agreed to make a date with his wife for a couples massage! Unbelievable just one month earlier!

I think it was his fear of his illnesses that prompted him to change. Sometimes marriage counseling is a one person job, when that one person agrees that they are the one having to change. It is a very satisfying case because of the increased satisfaction by each party in the marriage.

Long Island Marriage Counseling Center – If you have similar circumstances, please send me an email using the form to the right or call me. I would love to discuss.

Warmly, Diane

Dr. Diane Kramer, Long Island Marrriage Counselor and Psychologist
Marriage Counseling Center at Huntington, NY
75 Prospect St., Suite 103
Huntington, NY 11743
631-630-0570

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