Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Discussing the Joint Session with My Therapist

I had an individual appointment with my therapist late this afternoon.

I started off by saying that I felt like yesterday's joint counseling session really address the subjects that I covered in my opening remarks. I added that I was surprised that my wife's therapist focused in on money for so long at the beginning.

My therapist explained the discussion on money was meant to provide both therapists a glimpse of how my wife and I communicate on a difficult subject. It could just as well have been something else, such as sex. She noted that money is usually an easier subject to bring up than sex, which was the other big area of contention.

I asked my therapist for her take on the session. She said that it sounded like neither of us had faith in the other to work on the relationship. That we seemed to be watching each other for signs.

I brought up my wife's crying at the beginning of the session. The therapist brought up a speculation that she made in a private session long ago. She thinks that my wife is driven largely by feelings rather than intellect. The crying, she said, was probably an indication that she had been overwhelmed by the information that was being communicated in the opening remarks.

I said that I know it was a lot of information, but I had tried other ways to reach her. For example, when I put together the discussion on money back in October, I did it in written form. She didn't respond well to that, either. The therapist said that written form probably would overwhelm her as well.

I asked my therapist how one gets through to someone who is so emotionally based. She said the information has to be presented in very small parcels, letting the person explore the feelings that he or she is having before moving onto the next point.

According to her, emotionally driven people attach feelings to incoming information, and their reaction isn't just to the information, but all of the other feelings from similar past experiences. She likened the feelings to a string of beads.

She said although a feeling based person couldn't process information as quickly, once the information was processed, it was usually done more thoroughly.

She also said that attempts to neutralize the content of a message, like removing accusations and judgments, wouldn't help because the emotionally driven mind colors the incoming information anyway.

I asked her whether she thought my wife's tears may have been manipulative, a way to shut down a dialogue she doesn't want to have. The therapist didn't agree. She speculated that if she was trying to manipulate, it wasn't at a conscious level.

I expressed disappointment that we didn't get anywhere closer to understanding what my wife's motivations, be they to get me to cave in or let me be the one to end the marriage. She said my wife probably doesn't even have a clue about her motivations.

I asked the therapist whether there was anything I could do to help prepare for the next joint session. She said that I probably should say to my wife that it was unclear to me where she stood with regards to this marriage, and that I needed an answer.

She added that I might want to make it clear that even in the off chance that I didn't take the job out west, that didn't mean that I necessarily wanted to stay in the marriage. Although the move out to the Silicon Valley spelled an end to the marriage, a decision to stay here might mean the end to the marriage as well. She brought that up because she thought that my wife would backslide if she didn't have some clearly specified conditions.

She said that my wife's therapist requested a copy of my opening remarks, so I sent my therapist a PDF of the original document. I suppose that my wife's therapist will use that information in her private session with my wife on Friday.

All in all, this may be a moot point. I don't totally buy that my wife is so deeply enmeshed in her emotions that she can't think straight. I might do some research on this area to see whether the theory has any merit.

I notified the HR guy at the Online Payment Subsidiary of the Big Online Auction Company that I want to move forward with the next round of interviewing with the guys in the mobile division. My gut tells me that I belong there.
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