Therapy Rekindles A Marriage

We met Dakota the first time around. His anger outburst at a doctor’s office settled into a counseling referral. Referring to himself as “…a dead man walking” introduced him to me. A man in physical pain, Dakota was dealing with some real live problems. He’d recently retired from a job as a bookkeeper. He’d previously held a job for a tree service. A fall led consequently to a hospital stay, rehab and eventual re-training. He’d revert to angry outbursts prior to the event at the doctor’s office. A diagnosis of prostate cancer set him off. Though advertently not suicidal, I needed to be aware of a man who has faced loss — loss of job identity, loss of physical health and subsequent chronic pain.

His wife joined us part way into his section session. Tension pervaded their marriage. Micki, Dakota’s wife, hadn’t been informed of his medical diagnosis. A perception of an uncaring wife was soon challenged. Micki painted a portrait of a wife who felt helpless, so it appeared dealing with Dakota’s psyche. Micki wanted time to talk to Dakota.

They arrived a tad late, offering apologies. Dakota explained they’d overcommitted to a rare breakfast at a local restaurant. “We’ve not been out for a meal in ages. We do our own thing at home,” Dakota stated. They sat down and held hands. Wow! I gazed at their show of affection. What’s this all about? Micki looked at Dakota and then said, “We did, in fact, do some talking at home. Seems I’ve been kept out of the loop for a long time. You tell him, Dakota.” “Guess I’m more the pain in the butt than I wish to admit.” Say more, Dakota.

“I’ve been heated up and letting my emotions out cockeyed. I was in so much physical pan and didn’t let Micki in. Do you know what I mean?” Please explain further, Dakota. “I guess I have to admit that I’ve not recovered from the injury. I thought my life was over. A rehab counselor named Doris got me to retrain for the bookkeeping job. Maybe I needed to talk to someone about the injury.” Are you saying that maybe you didn’t deal with the loss adequately? “I believe that’s right, Marshall. Guess the pain wasn’t only physical. I didn’t let Micki in. We separated while living under the same roof. Our intimate life used to be great. I gave up after the injury. I didn’t speak a word about it to the docs, rehab folks and, most importantly, Micki. I felt useless, like half a man. Then a prostate cancer diagnosis got me further apart. I felt less than a man, even more than before. I figured Micki would tire of my anger and leave me for a man who was whole, if you know what I mean. We talked more this week than I care to remember. Guess Micki doesn’t see me as half a man. Micki, you say something.”

“He’s right on with whatever he just told you. We made another appointment with his primary care physician. I’m in for the whole ride. I need Dakota to realize I love him for who he is. His injury was not his fault. I’m proud of him for retraining. He kept our family financially together. We did some reading. We learned this prostate cancer can be treated. It’s not necessarily a death sentence. Maybe we can find help to restore and reignite our intimacy. You know why we were late at the breakfast place?” Dakota and Micki laugher at a memory so hard. “Pancake syrup dribbled out of his mouth and onto his shirt. I had to get water on it to clean it and he laughed more because it tickled. The waitress came by with a towel and she cackled too. We hadn’t paid attention to the time.”

Folks, you know, I sense love in the air. Love that has perhaps always been there yet took a back seat to life changes. Maybe with more life ahead, love can take center stage. Dakota and Micki agreed to continue therapy while seeking treatment for the prostate cancer.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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