Insecurity in Marriage - Part 3
Lindsey returned to another session with her marriage counselor. She had started her appreciation/gratitude journal since their last session and it seemed to be a useful tool in redirecting her mind. She did feel less insecure and worried. She also noticed she was experiencing moments of gratitude that would come over her even when she wasn't thinking of anything. They were fleeting and sometimes she felt choked up with emotion. Her appreciation seemed to be about life itself.
She returned because of the jealousy. She seemed to resent that her partner had more fun. He seemed to have fewer cares and less responsibility. She had a much more stressful job, aging parents and kids to worry about. He had a secure job, lots of friends, and plenty of free time. He was supportive in many ways that helped her and relieved stress but it didn't seem to be enough. He just had more fun and it didn't seem fair. I guess misery does love company.
Lindsey's therapist quietly listened and considered her words. Then he asked a thought provoking question. "Do you want him to be as miserable as you or you to be as happy as him?"
"I want to be as happy as him but that is impossible. I have all this responsibility he doesn't have."
"I understand. I would still like you to answer the question."
"I feel like it is an unfair question. I can say I would like to be as happy as him but that can't happen given my circumstances."
"So are you saying you would like to be as happy as him?"
"Yes, of course," Lindsey answered clearly annoyed by his insistence.
"I just don't see how that is possible," replied Lindsey.
"Okay, we can work on that next, I just needed to know your answer before I could proceed."
Lindsey was so irritated she felt like walking out. It was like he had no concept of responsibility and how that can weigh on a person. Of course she wanted to be happier. That was why she came back. Her resentment was beginning to build and she felt like maybe men just don't get it. Maybe he was like all the other asshole men out there....
"What's coming up right now," asked her therapist.
"I think you're an asshole for asking me such an insensitive question. Of course I want to be happy. I deal with a lot. You seem to have no concept of what women deal with. Maybe I should be seeing a woman therapist. Your wife probably understands responsibility. You just go to work and tell people to solve their own problems and then go home and sit on your ass and let your wife deal with everything."
"Okay, I see you're dealing with a lot of anger. A lot of anger toward me and a lot of anger towards men in general. Am I right?"
"You bet your ass I'm angry at you and men. I know your type..."
Lindsey's therapist sat quiet and attentive as she unloaded. He nodded in agreement as she continued. She went on for a good fifteen minutes before she finally stopped. She sat in silence as she let the remaining emotions run through her body.
"Why am I so angry? I know you're trying to help me... I'm sorry I said those things... I'm just so angry and I don't really know why. I'm such a bitch."
"No, not a bitch. You're just angry. There is nothing wrong with your emotions. You just need to understand them. First, you need to accept them without all the judgment and then you need to understand why you feel that way. Believe me, your emotions are here to save you. They have a very important message for you. Your anger is telling you that something isn't working. You have a belief or way of being that isn't good for you. Your anger is telling you something needs to change. You just need to figure out what isn't working and make the change. Instead of just looking at what is happening outside of yourself, you also need to look at what is happening inside yourself."
"I wouldn't be getting angry if it weren't for all the stuff happening around me."
"I don’t doubt that isn’t true. Haven't you ever noticed yourself having angry conversations in your head when no one is around and nothing is happening?"
"Are you saying I just have these angry thoughts when I'm alone?"
"Yes. Don't you have these angry thoughts rolling around in your head from time to time without any provocation?"
Lindsey was silent. She did have a lot of angry conversations in her head. Sometimes they started first thing in the morning. But how did he know. Lindsey replied, "What makes you think that?"
Her therapist smiled, "Because you're human and humans do that all the time. Also the anger you expressed seemed a bit rehearsed, like maybe you had this conversation before or at least practiced it in your head a few times."
The therapist gave Lindsey a moment to process the idea. "Anger isn't the enemy. Men aren't the enemy. The problem is how you view men and how you view yourself in relation to them. We'll need to talk more but it seems like you take on a great deal of responsibility, more than your fair share...more than if healthy for you. If that is what's going, you're the one that needs to change.”
"But no one will do all this stuff if I don't."
"Maybe," replied the therapist in agreement. "One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of turbulence when you set appropriate boundaries. People have gotten used to you handling all this stuff and they won't like it when you stop. You're going to need some emotional support. Hopefully your partner will be up for the job."
"He'll be supportive because he's been telling me the same thing for years."
"Interesting. He's the one who has supported you in this way and yet he's the one you resent."
Lindsey realized she had a lot more to consider. Maybe she didn't have to do everything she thought she did. She had always thought that taking care of people was the role of a mother and the role of a daughter with aging parents. She wasn't sure of her next step but she was beginning to realize that caring for people did not necessarily mean taking care of people. Maybe she could care for her family without all the care taking.