Analyze THIS, bitches.

If you’ve never been in marriage or couples counseling, you probably have wondered what goes on during a session (you probably haven’t, but just go with it).  I certainly did.  My only point of reference was the scene in “Analyze This,” when Billy Crystal’s psychiatrist character tells the couple he is counseling to have some drinks or smoke a joint, whatever they had to do to get into each other and get laid.

Yeah, not that.

Our therapist is thin, petite, and put-together.  I admit that I picked her partially based on her picture on the Psychology Today online directory of therapists in our area.  I don’t think I would respond to treatment by someone who was sloppy or unattractive.  Sound shallow?  I have never for one second claimed to be otherwise.  It stands to reason for me that a person who is going to help me put my life together needs to have her own shit pretty tight.  Or at least be savvy enough to give off that impression to clients.

Our first session went great!  “This is going to be easy!  And even fun,” I thought.  The 45 minute session flew by as we talked about how much we adored and admired one another.  She asked us to purchase and read a book called “Getting the Love you Want.”  Odie and I walked to the Borders down the street and bought it right after the session.  Then we walked around the corner to the pub where we used to have beers with coworkers while we were falling in love.  It seemed written in the stars.

 

The book is excellent and I recommend it to anyone and everyone, whether you are in a relationship or not.  It takes this beautiful idea of romantic love, throws it into a pillowcase full of oranges, and beats the shit out of you with it.  Remember how you met your partner and thought, “He is my SOUL MATE!  He GETS ME.  No one has ever gotten me the way he gets me”?  It turns out that feeling is your neurosis (or personality disorder or psychosis) sensing its perfect match.  And if Mr. Soulmate over there felt the same thing for you, then congratulations! I now pronounce you man and wife!  You may trigger each other’s shit, project your discarded selves onto each other, and attempt to heal the wounds of your childhood until death do you part.  No guarantees that the “death” won’t be murder.

And I mean it when I say I recommend the book.

We sat in The Bar Formerly Known as Duffy’s, having not cracked the newly purchased book yet, raised our frothy Guinnesses to each other and felt very relieved and in love.  Ah, the good ol’ days.

One of the most effective aspects of therapy, it seems to me, is that it gets you talking when you’re not even in the room with the MFT person.  In our case, it gets you fighting.  On the morning of therapy this week, Odie and Mrs. Odie 2 got into it.  Big time.  A few hours later, sitting on the couch in Laurie’s office that is actually a “love seat” and way too small for us to achieve physical distance (emotional distance will have to do), Odie told her that he felt things were “going well.”  I think Laurie saw something in my expression which belied this assessment, because she asked me what I thought of that.  And then I rehashed the whole fight. We left the office and I asked if he wanted to go to our bar.  He said no.  He told me that session of therapy sucked and all it did was bring up something we had already settled, including all of the bad feelings that went with it.  And that’s the last thing he said to me before the silent treatment commenced.

Odie has a process.  He gets mad, he talks quickly and in an agitated manner while twisting his wedding ring, then he gets quiet, time passes, then he’s ready to talk.  The “time passes” phase can be minutes, hours, or days.  I’m lucky.  He doesn’t yell, name call, leave, throw things, or punch walls.  But I have a hard time with the “time passes” part of this process.  I can almost never just wait it out.  My mind visits all kinds of terrible places (“not only am I NOT going to have a second child, I’m going to have to raise the one I have as a divorced, single mother!”) and I tend to pester him to either have it out with me or make up with me.  I’m working on that.

I’m going to skip over some details here, because it’s a fine line I walk between using my writing to process my life and to entertain you, and protecting the privacy and dignity of the man I married.  I can’t have him watching what he says in our real life because he’s afraid it will go into my writing.  On the other hand, “This is going in my blog!” could be a useful tool for winning fights…

Nah.

I’m no newbie when it comes to psychology and therapy.  I’ve read plenty of books.  I’ve been in individual therapy for most of my life. Nevertheless, I had a profound epiphany this week.  One that has made me a believer in the theory that romantic relationships can provide the opportunity for personal growth beyond anything I had foreseen.  The book says that the reason relationships start to “stale” after the honeymoon phase ends is because we shift from a mindset of pleasing the other person to one of trying to get our own needs met.  A power struggle ensues.  Both people want their needs met.  Neither wants to be the giver of the gift anymore.  I am way more guilty of this than Odie.  He is a kind man.  An accommodating man.  He gives.  I am a taker.  One way of looking at this is to see us as a perfect fit.  The problem is that people who are givers are actually trying to get their own needs met.  It’s sort of, “Maybe if I am kind enough to you and make you happy enough, you will love me and then you will turn around and give me what I need.”  I’m ashamed to admit that my inclination is more, “Yay!  Me, me, me, me, me, me!”  But what I have realized is that I want to change. 

I was forced to consider Baby V’s needs above my own from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  I gave up booze, diet soda, and cleaning cat litter boxes.  OH, the sacrifices I made!  When she was born, I gave up showering daily, sleeping nightly, and thinking clearly.  I gave up my body to nursing-on-demand.  I cut my hair to keep it out of greedy little fists.  Stopped wearing my favorite necklaces and earrings.  All of this I did with no resentment, no hesitation.  But what do I give up for Odie?  What do I sacrifice for him?  When do I put his needs first?  Nothing, nothing and never.

I have been a bad wife.

And I am happy for this epiphany, because now I get to change.  My husband is willing to go to therapy with me AND put up with my shit.  I know many couples who have one partner who is not (it isn’t always the man).  I spent the first three or four years of my relationship with Odie gazing lovingly upon him and wondering, “How did I get so lucky?”  How, indeed?

If you believe this book, the answer is having a narcissistic, charismatic, artistic, hilarious, handsome, and critical father as well as an insecure, self-loathing, dictatorial, rage-o-holic, loving, self-sacrificing, and vain mother.  Isn’t it romantic?

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About Mrs Odie

Like you, only funnier.
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One Response to Analyze THIS, bitches.

  1. MrsOdie2 says:

    Shannie, sister, I feel you. I loved this post. I have LONG believed that if we wives gave more blowjobs, there would be more happiness in more marriages. Saying it is easy, though. Although not WHILE you’re doing it.

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