One thing that I enjoy doing (at least most of the time) is working with couples. It’s a different dynamic than individual counseling and there are a lot of moving pieces. I was reflecting on how long I have been doing therapy and I realized that it’s been almost 8 years since I’ve started. Over the years I have started to notice patterns and the process has become more intuitive as opposed to theory. I like encouraging couples to build a new relationship and helping them to negotiate new rules and guidelines. They have the opportunity to ask questions and to be intentional about building something that provides each partner with a sense of security. It’s rarely straightforward but there’s nothing like witnessing an “aha” moment when things start to come together. It’s stressful to hold all the emotions in one place but I have learned that it is important to compartmentalize and to take breaks when needed. Many times couples get together without truly knowing what role they want the relationship to play in their individual lives. It’s up to each couples to establish a new normal and to find something that works for each partner.
I ran across an article that was in response to a tweet that went viral. You can read the article here. Basically the author talks another the fact that most marital relationships aren’t truly 50-50. Women complete the bulk of household duties. This is absolutely true. I did a dissertation on it. However, women who want men who are providers or more specially black women who want men who are providers are labeled as gold diggers. The interesting thing that the author points out is that black women tend to out earn black men in many instances so then they also carry the financial responsibility of the household. From this aspect, a 50-50 split is an upgrade. I’ve met a lot of guys who aren’t comfortable with solely providing financially for a household while their wife works part time jobs or stays at home with the kids. Their mindset is if they have to go to work 40 hours a week, their wife should too. I’ll admit that I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to this but I’m also trying to be realistic. I would love to have a husband who considers it his primary responsibility to provide for the household. But I also don’t want to be in a situation where he exerts all control over finances because he earns it. I just hate the idea of being in a relationship where I have to keep tabs on whose turn it is to pay. I don’t want to worry about that because there’s the understanding that he will. Not to say that I’ll never do it, but I want it to be an option instead of an obligatory split. Is this even possible these days? I’m doubtful.
Lately I’ve started to watch a new show that has both intrigued me while simultaneously horrifying me. Usually I try to watch light hearted tv shows because my empath sense is very strong and I work in a helping field. The show that I’ve been watching is called Handmaids and it’s on Hulu. One thing I will say is that it’s definitely not a comedy but if you want a thought provoking and extreme view of what might be the future then it’s a must see. But that’s not what this post is about. One of the main characters said, “you like because, you love despite.” And honestly that’s the truth. I work with couples who have lost so much of their original passion and excitement for each other because things have become so mundane. They’ve taken each other for granted and it has taken a terrible toll on the relationship. The emotional connection is very strained or sometimes nonexistent. I think many times people think that therapy fixes everything but it doesn’t. The truth is that therapy can give you the tools that you need to be successful in your relationship. It takes a lot of effort and intentionality to change the trajectory of a relationship but it definitely can be done if both people want it and are willing to work on it. One person cannot sustainably carry the whole relationship on their back. It can happen for a while but there are always consequences. One thing I really enjoy doing with the couples I work with is doing exercises that help them remember why they fell in like with each other and what made them love the other person. It’s always eye opening and helps to start the process of reconnecting with each other.
I rarely post pictures, but this is one that caught my attention. While I think it’s wrong to generalize an entire population, I’ve noticed some truth to it in my own personal experiences and interactions with guys.
Today in lieu of being at work (which typically is the case on weekends), I had the chance to watch several episodes of Fix My Life on OWN. I was intrigued by the work that Iyanla does with couples. On a particular episode she addressed a couple who had been married 20 years but weren’t sure if they wanted to stay married. Iyanla brought up the point that wedding vows typically say “until death do us part” but they aren’t specific on what type of death warrants parting ways. Is it a physical death? The death of one’s commitment? Or is it the death of one’s individuality or emotional stability and wellbeing? What exactly does it mean? I think that these questions are up to each couple to define. However, I wonder how many couples actually have this type of conversation? It’s easy to promise something when you’re happy and naive but it’s a different story when you’re in the midst of a relational crisis. This is another reason why I think pre-marital counseling can be so important. It can bring up questions that you hadn’t considered before and help you lay a solid foundation for a successful relationship.
Now that I’m a working adult, it’s rare that I’ll binge watch an entire season of a show in two sittings but that’s what happened with Insecure. My social media accounts have been flooded with reactions from the show so I wanted to watch for myself and see what the hype was all about. Oh my goodness. The show is amazing. Definitely not kid friendly but a great show. The main character “Issa” has a lot going on. She’s balancing a relationship, a best friend, and a job at a local non-profit. As the season progresses, we see Issa try to make sense of her world. Her boyfriend isn’t always emotionally available and she questions the relationship when an old flame reappears in her life. Meanwhile, Issa also has a best friend who is a successful professional but has really bad luck with men. By the time the season ends, Issa’s boyfriend has gotten a new job, she has made a horrible mistake and her friend is still single. One thing that I can appreciate is that the show isn’t super complicated. The season finale wasn’t what I expected but it definitely brought to light the fact that there are consequences for actions although two wrongs don’t make a right. Issa made a mistake and regretted it but discovered that some things aren’t easily fixed with a contrite apology. Her boyfriend was a good guy who got his life together a little too late but was absolutely caught off guard when the truth came out and acted out accordingly. There aren’t hundreds of characters to remember but the nuances are so reflective of real life and the experience of a lot of minority millennials. I’m glad the show has been renewed for a second season.
I usually wait about a year or so before disclosing a bad date story, but I’m 100% sure this guy will never talk to me again so I’ll make an exception. Back in my days of online dating (I’m off all internet dating sites and apps indefinitely–or at least for the time being), there was an app I used that was geared toward professional millennials. I had some marginal success with it so when an anticipated relationship fell through, back to the app I went. I “met” someone relatively soon and we started chatting through the app then texting. I’ll be honest, he wasn’t super interesting. He had just finished a professional degree in the health field and had gotten a job with the government. However, he didn’t have a start date yet so he was just hanging out at home until it happened. He lived about 12 hours away on the East coast but mentioned that he would be in my area in a month. We tentatively agreed to meet up when he was in town. However, in the month or so leading up to him coming into town we didn’t talk at all. No phone calls, no texts, nothing. I forgot all about him until he texted saying that he was in the area. It wasn’t really the most convenient time because I was packing to go on a trip and trying to run some last minute errands. However, I thought it might be nice to add a face to a name. He wanted to meet up for coffee but didn’t have a car because he flew in (figures). So because I’m a nice person and because I had sorta given him my word I agreed to drive the 25 miles (one way) to meet him. I got to the hotel and saw him in person for the first time. He fit the description of the word “petite.” Nicely proportioned but I could see directly over his head and I wasn’t wearing heels. I don’t know a man who would be happy being characterized as petite, but it’s the truth. He wanted to get in my car and drive to a coffee place. I quickly vetoed that because he was only allotting me an hour of his time and it was way too much hassle. So we went to get a coffee in a little shop in the hotel lobby. I ordered my coffee first and then waited a few seconds to see if he would offer to pay. Negative. So I bought my drink and moved out the way to him to get his. Side note, in his defense he was unemployed and was probably counting pennies. But then again my drink was 3 bucks and he had invited me and I had driven 30 minutes. But whatever. Secondly, he took a long time to order. He requested 4 different samples before he finally made up his mind. The process took about ten minutes with him sipping and declaring it wasn’t what he wanted and asking for something different. The conversation we had afterwards was nothing short of boring. I tried to get him to talk a little about himself but it wasn’t really interesting (real talk). It was a conversation that required effort instead of flowing seamlessly. So as we approached the end of the allotted time I decided it was time for me to go. He proceeded to walk me to my car, give me the most awkward hug in life and then walk away. Right out of my life…. not surprised though.