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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

After four weekly one-hour sessions, I had managed to limit my angry sobbing to only half of every appointment

Ancient treasure: Golden King Cups.
After four weekly one-hour sessions, 
I had managed to limit my angry sobbing to only half of every appointment
   
Sue seemed pleased with our progress. After four weekly one-hour sessions with her, I had managed to limit my angry sobbing to only half of every appointment and He had a somewhat less confused look about him.
Before leaving her office one evening she suggested that we come up with a safe word. One that we could use should we spiral into our old explosive, argumentative ways. A word that one of us could say to let the other person know we were taking things too far and to remind us of these constructive sessions that we had braved and powered through … as a couple, together.
Two weeks later and we were sat like naughty children in front of Sue. So, don’t make your safe word ‘armadillo’.
"So, don’t make your safe word ‘armadillo’."
Do you know what was great about Sue? She validated each of our thoughts, our wounds and our fears in such a way that it made us individually feel triumphant, that neither of us was wrong or fighting a losing battle. I felt smug. And all she did was repeat back to us what we were saying. Clever Sue.
Marrying into the military, I had naively imagined my days would be spent leisurely entertaining myself before welcoming Him home from the station in time for one of our many social events. I would probably become a dab hand at canap├ęs. The reality is that I spend a lot of time alone as He’s away on business, entertaining a small child at a frantic pace whilst maintaining a household and a stiff upper lip.
When He married me, he naively thought I would spend my days entertaining myself at leisure before welcoming him home in time for one of our many social events. I would become a dab hand at shaking a martini. Back in the real world, He spent a lot of time alone, looking on as I poured all of my time and energy into our child.
Sue shook her head and chuckled. “Expectations,” she said. What expectations did we have for ourselves, from each other? Before we made all of these huge life changing decisions? Before getting married, having a child, moving across the country and quitting jobs? At what point did we sit down, as adults, and talk about what each of us was feeling at any given time?
"When He married me, he naively thought I would spend my days entertaining myself at leisure before welcoming him home in time for one of our many social events."
We sat and stared blankly at her and then, embarrassed, glanced at each other. Errr … we hadn’t thought to do that. Even though it sounds blindingly obvious. We had silently figured (hoped) that it would all fall into place with a Whitney Houston soundtrack in the back ground.
Sue gave us homework that evening.
It was to sit together over the next few days and talk. Without background noise, without getting defensive, without the crying and without the storming off. It took a few goes, but no one has had to say ‘Armadillo’… yet.
In the weeks that followed the tension in our home melted away and the egg shells we were walking on were swept up and not under the carpet. We spoke, not to snap or accuse or demand, but to discuss, to question, to solve. Just small things at first, testing the waters. Housework, dinner and dog walks mainly, before slowly building up to things that hurt.
For me, a big one was that I had given up my job in order to travel with Him and raise our family, but never once had we discussed what I would do for money. Going from being incredibly financially independent to having to ask my new husband for some pocket money to buy some knickers or a can of coke… the shame ate away at my dignity for nights on end. However, having spoken about it one evening with Sue as our go-between, it became apparent He had assumed I would just take the money whenever and however I needed it. Right! Joint bank account… tick. It couldn't have been more simple. It took one ten minute conversation.
We still argue, there are still moments of bitterness and anger, there are still things that we have not spoken about, but it’s getting better and we’re acknowledging these things for what they are. That’s progress in itself.
In the back of our minds Sue is always there, quietly guiding and reminding us of our sessions together where we were confident, proud, honest and enthusiastic. Where we learnt that communication is key. And that brings us back together every time.
Clever Sue.

http://www.relate.org.uk/blog/2015/6/03/after-four-weekly-one-hour-sessions-i-had-managed-limit-my-angry-sobbing-only-half-every-appointment

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