Couples often come to counseling with emotions running high.
She complains that “He just doesn’t listen.” He counteracts with the statement that “She just doesn’t understand.” Each person is appealing to the therapist to ‘fix their partner’ on the basis that their version of the problem is the correct version.
Ideally it might be perfect to have an adjudicator, whose wisdom would surely come down on ‘my’ side. This, of course, would ensure that my partner not only knows they are wrong but also follows my directions to ‘fix themselves,’ and therefore fix the relationship up!
As a couples therapist, I have never come across a relationship where it is as black and white as ‘he is right and she is wrong’ or vice versa. “How is that possible?” you ask, “when I have done all I can to change and all my attempts to fix the problem have failed?” The answer lies within our brain and how it functions when we are in the “fight-flight-freeze” mode. Let me explain.