There’s a whole different set of clients that I often see quite often. Not Jack & Diane from yesterday. More Mortal Kombat.
God, I loved that game. I think my computer game addiction began right back in the 90s with the Nintendo, Mortal Kombat and Sonic. Not so much Atari – that was boring as hell. Blip. Blip. Blip.
Anyways – I can usually pick these clients before the first session. And I immediately get a mental image of either:
Judge Judy :
A scenario where I look very learned and wise in my court attire while two parties bring their evidence to the table and I am expected to choose who is right. Wins. Deserves Compensation.
Where the couple is fighting to the death – full-on blood mode – (Judge Judy scenarios sometimes quickly deteriorate into this too) – and I am expected to pick up the pieces of damaged flesh and STILL choose a winner.
How do I know prior to the first session?
In these storylines, one member of the couple often asks to speak to me alone before the first session occurs:
“Your honour. Here are the facts of the case. I am only telling you for your benefit so you can make “the right decision” and see how perfect and blameless I am in this situation. “
What I hear:
“Control over situations and how I look or am portrayed is very important to me. I need to control the narrative and outcome.”
Don’t get me wrong – information gathering and fighting are not my bugbears.
I love as much info as possible – and not everyone who does this pre-session chat has “bad” motives. Some truly don’t want to waste time.
And, I also strongly believe that if a couple is still fighting it’s a good thing. It means they’re still actively involved in the relationship.
Divorced person after divorced person will testify that when the desire to fight goes it is a sign of complete withdrawal from the relationship. That someone has decided it’s not worth it to fight because they never feel heard. Or because they just don’t care.
My issue with the situation – is that I know that the outcome isn’t going to be what they want.
You see – what the couple probably want is for me to assign blame to someone. Declare a winner and a loser. Choose a team.
“You’re honour – have you reached a verdict?” sort of thing.
If it’s gone full Mortal Kombat – it’s also highly likely that one half of the couple has stood up, slammed the door and yelled “This is a total F$$king waste of my time” and the other half is sitting in tears in a chair there on my screen. With both of them waiting for me to choose a side. One of them is hoping that being dramatic will force my hand. Because it’s worked for them in the past. The more dramatic you are – the more you are hurting? Right. Um – no.
90% of the time it’s just not that clear cut.
Blame and blaming are never the right path to fixing your marriage.
Sorry to tell you guys – but you have cooked up this whole thing together. It’s very rarely one person doing this dance*
I often see people doing a little dance that started when they got married and they don’t know how to change the music or the moves they make during the dance. Even if it doesn’t work for them.
One person leads – the other follows. Just because that’s the “way it’s always been”
And it’s a hard pattern to break.
But break it we can.
If you are sick of the blame game…
*Of course – I’m not talking about people in abusive relationships – that’s a whole different blog.