A few months ago one of my clients complained that her husband wasn’t romantic enough. They’d been married for 15 years, and all that time, she felt he “didn’t get it”. I suggested they both come in for a session and maybe we could make the change
Two weeks later — I’ll call them John and Mary — sat opposite me, and I opened the session with the question to each of them, “Mary, why are you here?” Mary replied that she wanted to share some feelings about their relationship that she couldn’t seem to explain by herself. “John”, I asked, “Why are you here?” John shrugged and said “It was important to Mary that I come, so I’m here.”
“Mary, why don’t you tell John why you wanted this meeting, and what it is that’s bothering you.”
“I love you John, you know that. We have two great kids and a great life.. but..” and she stopped, looked down at her feet and said, “I just wish you were more romantic.”
“What?! I don’t understand” John shook his head, looked at me and added “I don’t know what to do for her. I bring her flowers every Friday, and praise her for her cooking, and tell her always that she looks good.” He shrugged, “I dunno what else I can do”.
“That’s why you’re both here” I explained. “Mary?
“I don’t like flowers. I hate your damn flowers” her voice rising “They’re smelly and they die in a couple of days. How is that romantic? I hate flowers” .
John looked at her in shock, then at me, “I didn’t know that. I’ve bought her flowers since we were married. Now I feel like a real fool.” Angry and red in the face “Why the f*** didn’t you tell me?” He got up from the chair, pacing the room, “All these years, and you didn’t tell me?! S*** am I supposed to be a mind reader?”
Mary, subdued at his response, hung her head and mumbled something that neither of us could hear. “Say that again, Mary” I asked
“I said, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” tears in her eyes, “I didn’t know how to tell you.” The confident, strong business woman client I had known, looked like a guilty small child. “I feel so stupid now”.
“Well that makes two of us” John sat down and reached over to pick up Mary’s hand. I allowed them to reconnect and led them in a memory protocol of love, and then gave them the following homework.
Each person to write down five things that make them feel loved. Do this separately, on your own time and space. These are small symbols of love, not big ones. Be specific — here’s some examples:These things will and do make me feel loved by you: When we’re at a party and you look at me across the room and wave or smile to connect. When you touch my shoulder each time you pass by me. When you laugh at my jokes. When you take our kids out for a fun day so I can have my me time. When you surprise me with my favorite chocolate bar. When you call me in the middle of the day to say you love me
When you’ve written them, plan a time to exchange the lists, receive and accept them with no comments. Just understanding. Live the list…and love each other.
Until soon, live kindly.
Originally published at medium.com