When Brian and Mary came for their couples’ intensive, they were on the verge of a divorce. They had been married for 30 years and had 4 kids who were now all leaving the nest. When I interviewed them before their intensive, he said he felt they just needed to spend some time together now that the kids were gone and get close again. Mary, on the other hand, was clear that this intensive was their last shot at staying together. “We’ve been having problems for 20 of our 30 years together. We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor, and she has recommended divorce at this point. I’m not really sure why we’re coming to you, but I’ve heard that sometimes this works when nothing else can.”
After working with Brian and Mary individually at first, it became clear that they both had habits of Thought that were getting in their way. On his part, Brian thought he was unattractive. When he felt Mary was distant, it confirmed this belief, and then he would feel insecure, frightened and lonely. His way of dealing with those feelings was to find women in need of financial help, whom he would befriend and help out financially for a period of time. Their need of him made him feel less lonely and unlovable.
Mary, on the other hand, had picked up the thought somewhere along the line that she was stupid, or that other people thought she was. Whenever she would find out about one of these women who were benefitting from Brian’s philanthropy, she would think, “What does he think, I’m stupid?” This thought is extremely upsetting to her; whenever she thought it, she would become cold and distant. When she was cold and distant, Brian would look for someone new to help to get some emotional connection and warmth. And so the cycle would continue, to the point that Mary was ready to divorce him.
As Mary began to understand the role that Thought plays in relationships, she settled down and began to see that her experience of being ‘stupid’ was coming from her, from her own thinking, not from Brian. This was a very big realization for her. She began to be less guarded around Brian, as she learned more and more about the principles and simply began enjoying the moment.
From my perspective, it was obvious that Brian adored his wife, and had tremendous respect for her. Her coldness made him insecure, and those insecure thoughts made him lose his bearings – he didn’t know what to do to re-connect with her. As Brian’s thoughts settled down, the wall of Thought he so often lived in, that he was unattractive, also loosened their hold on him.
Mary and Brian began to communicate with each other in sessions, without anger and defensiveness. They began to be able to have a dialogue, and even laugh about things. The turning point came when, at a break, Brian stood up, screwed up all his courage and said to Mary: “Would you like to spend the break with me?” Mary, taken aback by his forthright effort to connect with her, paused for a moment, then said “Yes! I would!” They began re-discovering what it meant to spend time together without all their old thought patterns, most of which had been invisible to them, running the show.
When Brian and Mary showed up for the last day of their intensive, they were tentatively a team once again. They had that sweetness you feel around people who are just getting to know each other and are a little shy about it. That newfound sense of connection grew and grew after they got home. Their fear and mistrust melted away as they began to re-experience their real connection with each other. It was as if those 20 years of alienation and distance melted away without a trace. This so often happens when people re-connect with their true natures. No matter how many years you may struggle, been depressed or anxious, or had trouble in your relationship, when you re-connect with your innate mental and spiritual health your inbuilt capacity for truth resurfaces, and all those years of struggle appear like the illusion they really were.
I check in with Brian and Mary at 6-month intervals, and at the two-year mark all they have to say is: “Very Happy!”