What do you find when a couple comes in and one of the partners is basically saying, “This is all the other party’s fault?” From what I’ve seen in my own experience, everybody has a role and part to play. How do you deal with that person?
I’m pretty straight forward with them. I always tell my couples, when I have a couple the couple is the presenting patient. It is not one person or the other. You’re right, most of the time people come in and they say, “She’s the problem, fix her.” Then I let them know, “You both have a part in this.” It takes 2 to tango. It takes 2 to dance and that’s really key. I’ll lose a lot of couples at times because of that, because they don’t want to hear that. I understand why. They’re in pain. They want things to get better and they want the other person to be fixed.
The reality is that both people play a part. It’s a very fine dance as a therapist that I have to do to be able to engage both people and have both people see that they have a part, so that there is no bad guy. That’s another thing with couples therapy is that a lot of times everyone is looking for the bad guy. I constantly have to reassure there’s no bad guy in this relationship. The relationship has suffered, but there’s no bad person, there’s no perpetrator to a certain extent. Once they start understanding that language, the defenses start coming down. I feel that that’s when they can start listening and working towards a solution.