I’d had a shit morning.
Life on the front line of being a grownup had seen fit to give me two good kicks before We left the house. The consequence, I could so easily have pulled out of going to our therapy session today. It even went through my mind to get there and then excuse myself, leaving my Wife to talk to Sue on Her own.
But I didn’t.
Perhaps that would have taken more spine than I could muster.

Sue: You’ve been away. How was that?
Her: It started well on the first day. The next couple were more difficult, without us talking a great deal.
Sue turned to me …
Sue: How do you feel it went.
Me: It was pretty traumatic.
Sue: Why was that?
I took a deep breath and turned to my Wife.
Me: Do you mind me saying?
Her: No. Go ahead.
Me: Because telling NameRedacted She was responsible for a psychologically abusive relationship was horrendous.
Sue turned to my Wife …
Sue: Do you recognise that?
My Wife sort of did, but She wasn’t sure it was correct, though She understood why I felt that. And She wasn’t sure how She could change Her behaviours if She wasn’t aware of them.
I had to point out that when I’d made this allegation, I’d been at lengths to say I didn’t think it was conscious or deliberate.
There was some resulting discussion, but not much.
[Ed: Is it unsettling that, whilst AM is pretty sure the registration forms They had had to sign at the start of their counselling with Sue included confirmation that neither was being abused, there seemed no indication that Sue had heard any suggestion of abuse, nor that she was likely to follow it up. Perhaps this is a reality of abuse within heterosexual relationships? If a woman had alleged abuse, would not alarm bells be ringing very loudly indeed? Are men not afforded that same concern? Or maybe AM misread Sue and He was just over interpreting? That is not impossible.]

Sue went on. Off the back of the phone conversation She and my Wife had had, Sue addressed the request for more structured help. She had done courses … she seemed to be floundering, self justifying … her interest is in … I can’t remember the phrase she used, but it was something about people’s past influencing their adult relationships.
[Ed: It suddenly made more sense how, at their first session with Sue, she had been champing at the bit when AM quipped Tell me about your childhood?]
Sue produced a sheet of paper for each of us. She had downloaded it off the internet but it seemed to resonate with many couples. It listed some strategies for easing communication, and some of them possibly made some sense, even if, to my cynical mind, it all felt pretty limp. I had to opine that, looking down the list, despite my knowledge that Our problems are inevitably partly my responsibility, it was difficult not to read many points as something my Wife needed to fix, not me. But again I pointed out that I am so far down the rabbit hole that perhaps I am not being objective on that front.

I don’t remember Sue’s question, but my response …
Me: A lack of rejection. Trust. Respect. Equality.
There was the suggestion that we should explore these individually. I’m not sure we ever did. But maybe I have come to expect so little from Sue that we did and I just failed to absorb it.
With the concept of rejection, I brought the discussion loosely back to abuse and how, especially with sex, I have come to constantly expect to be told I’ve got something wrong. Every time!
Did my Wife recognise that?
Sort of, but …
I forget the but … or maybe I didn’t listen.

At some point I interjected. I felt We had drifted away from meaningful discussion.
I related how the most significant point from the last week was when, the morning after we got back from our break, and I was sat licking my wounds in the kitchen, my Wife hugged me.
I don’t think Sue actually asked How did that feel? On the contrary, I think she stopped herself from doing so.
I don’t remember my exact words, but they were loosely comforting, awkward …
Sue: scary?
Me: No.
I was sure of that.

Somehow I found myself relating the start to our few days away. How, when my Wife had accidentally handed me the return portion of my train ticket rather than the outbound portion, She then seemed to require the return of the unneeded ticket. I had taken this as a lack of trust, but only quipped lightly. When She had subsequently dropped Her own ticket, that had smacked of hypocrisy to me. My Wife seemed to remember me being quite churlish when I had handed Her dropped ticket to Her, but appeared, when challenged, to be uncertain of that.

I recounted how, on our break, the soundbite had come to mind that We have a contempt of familiarity. If We were just friends and my Wife sniped and snapped … to use Her phrase was hedgehog like … I would have told Her to fuck off a long time ago. And I really would have!
We briefly discussed how We are not currently friends.

My Wife observed that She felt more optimistic about our future at the moment. Somehow our city-break had made a difference, despite the disastrous two days we had.
Sue: You know what they say … an optimist has a better time of it.
How fucking trite!
Me: A pessimist is never disappointed.
Sue: Hmmm …

We were coming to the end of our hour. (For the first time Sue hadn’t allowed time to get away from us and we hadn’t over run by 15 min.)
Where did we think we were?
I didn’t know what there was to take away from this session. Perhaps, I refered back to Sues list, We have to complain more – explain when we are being hurt.
My Wife suggested We need to try being friends.
[Ed: AM and his Wife really do seem to have starkly different perceptions as to whether the proverbial glass is half empty or full. There are thin lines between optimism & naivety and between pessimism and negativity.]

Sue pulled out another couple of sheets of A4 from her folder – just one copy this time – and handed them to my Wife (She was sat nominally closer) who in turn offered them to me. I joked that I didn’t mind if She held them. My Wife saw the irony for what it was.
Sue hadn’t heard, so I explained it was a reference to the train ticket. She said she always seemed to hand things to the women. She guessed it was because they have handbags.
The was my red rag to a bull.
Me: Don’t go there. Don’t even think about going there or I’ll …
I narrowly stopped myself from saying I’d tear her a new one.
Her: One of the things I really respect about AM is … I’m not going to call him feminist …
I butted in …
Me: I find the term feminist profoundly offensive.
I wound my neck in, bit my tongue and we were all parted on good terms.
Sue asked if We were ready to say whether We would book another session. (My Wife had evidently flagged that as uncertain when they had spoken on the phone a few days previously.) I thought I needed time to reflect. My Wife concurred. And anyway, with the imminent Easter break, it was likely to be a few weeks before diaries permitted.

As we walked away from the consultation room, my Wife asked …
Her: First thoughts? If it’s not too soon.
Me: I feel less bruised than previously. You?
She seemed uncertain. Then asked …
Her: Was there anything you said that you couldn’t have said without Sue being there?
I thought.
Me: Was there anything I said that was worth £80 an hour?
Her: That was something I’d been considering too?
Me: No, there wasn’t … actually, yes there was.
Her: Can you tell me what?
Me: The elephant in the room
Her: Sex?
Me: Yes. I mentioned it but no one picked up on it.
Her: I noticed that, but time was getting on and I didn’t know if I should.
Me: We [Ed: What AM meant was his Wife …] picked this clinic because they advertise themselves as providing sex therapy, but We haven’t gone near it.
Her: Hmmm. I think We should start a session with it.
And that was about where things finished …

6 Responses to “Review”

  1. I want to say something about the abuse and the fact men are not heard when they suffer from it.
    I can tell you no one even suggested to me that whas I was going through was abuse, until I first saw a therapist AFTER leaving him and having realised by myself it was.
    So no, it’s not always better when women are being abused. They’re not heard more. At least not in my experience of therapy in a few different countries. Even though I didn’t go there and suggested I was being abused. I’m not sure. I guess I was always VERY open about what was going on with me and how things were. SO I feel they hould have picked up on it.
    I don’t know.
    Good luck with the rest.

    • Fair comment.
      Of course there are no absolutes about abuse, just as there are no absolutes about kink: how two different people define them will always be different. Maybe to many I have not been abused, and maybe they are right. Perception is a colourful thing.

  2. It sounded to me that the last conversation held a tinge of optimism in that you may get to address the elephant. I hope so anyway…
    Indie xo

  3. The way you share your trials and emotions draws me in and leaves me anticipating your next post. I have experienced therapy and all the effort, homework, motions, emotions, and (sometimes) lack there of. I feel for every step of what you are going through, and will be following your journey as long as you continue to share.

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