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Honesty Is Best Path Forward For Engaged Couple

The second session moved rapidly through the hour. We covered lots of ground. The emotional state was heavy. Two issues were revealed. Oddly, Austin introduced both, which related to Janie. One was her upbringing from a divorced home and the second was a discussion about having children. Tears flowed and body language revealed love and respect. Early intervention was not immediately apparent. Nevertheless, listening to this couple suggested their own history. How much time had been devoted to a getting-to-know you matter? They’ve been together for 1¢ years. I wonder how much of the issues that surfaced received adequate attention.

Welcome back folks.

“Good to be back. We were almost late. My job went overtime today. The building we are working on needed materials that arrived late. We got caught up. I think Janie got worried. I wasn’t able to text or call her. We were literally knee deep in our work, but I’m glad to be here.”

“Me, too; and I didn’t get too worried. I tried a new souffle dish and didn’t want it to be eaten too late. We’ll eat later.”

Janie, the last session focused on you. Issues related to trust and to children were brought up. How did you feel after the session? Additionally, did any feelings carry throughout the week?

“You know, being new to our counseling, I didn’t know what to expect. Austin and I have been up front from the get-go. Trust is a confusing concept. We’ve talked a lot about trust. I’m not clear with my own feelings about trust. Maybe I can talk about it another time. Talking about children…that got to me. I know that Austin wants children fairly soon. That is a sticky subject for me. I want to tell you, sir that I read from many sources on the subject of women and equality. Seems like the more I learn the more confused and uncertain I feel. I figure you’re probably pointing to my upbringing as a source of confusion. Years after my parent’s divorce, when I was in high school, I had a couple of friends whose parents were divorced. The friendship meant a great deal to me. We shared stories that built a sense of trust. There’s that word…trust. One of my friends got us all to laugh. He’d say goofy things like ‘let it all hang out.’ I was so naive. My friends had to interpret that saying. I spent years holding in my feelings. Mom, who I lived with, rarely talked about her divorce from dad. I do know that even though I lived with her and my sister, she rarely spoke in harsh tones about dad. I think that helped solidify from trust of others. We got birthday gifts and cards from dad; holidays, too.”

How are you right now, Janie?

“I’m surprised to be talking to a stranger about, as you said, my history.”

Janie, I sense that you have more to say but maybe I’m not reading you clearly. What do you say, Austin?

“I think you’re right sir. Janie is a deep thinker. She reads a lot. She researches ideas. I’m not sure she’s ready to say anything about conversations we’ve had about children. (He looks to Janie). “OK, OK, you convinced me to talk.”

“I’ve got friends who have children. When we visit with them, I see myself…this is hard to say.”

“It’s okay Janie. Tell the man what we’ve talked about.”

“OK. You see, I love children. Before I met Austin, I had imagined having kids, but I’m really worried. The responsibility I understand; but the planet has more mouths than it can feed. I see so much poverty in our country. You see, I’m torn. Like I said, I see my friends and their kids. They work hard but they have little money left. One of my best friends has three kids. They’re great kids. Boy, I’m so confused. Her kids like me and I like playing with them. Gloria and her husband are good people, good parents, but everyday they’re exhausted. Gloria never goes out alone. She’s tired all the time. I don’t know how she does it. Matt, her husband, drives truck. He’s home every night but he’s tired, too. When I see them, I think that I couldn’t do all that. Money is getting tight for them. I love children. I love my friend’s kids. Austin, I’m happy to say isn’t pushy. Wow, I’m tired. How do you feel, Austin?”

“I’m tired, too. I could use a beer. Can we go home and drink a beer?”

“Sure, Austin. Can I say something to both of you?”

“Sure Janie, of course you can.” said Austin.

“When I met you, Austin, my job as a nurse was demanding. What I had to do was physically demanding. I would finish my shift and go home to my apartment. I’d feel good about the work and my day. Sleep came easy. Funny, right now I feel mentally exhausted. We’ve only met three times and I wondered what we were going to talk about with this man. Just talking about trust and about children, I’m ready for bed. It’s a different kind of tired, right, sir?”

Yes, it’s a workout. Some people say that physical and mental workouts are experienced differently. You have opened up, both of you. The experience has just begun. I invite you both to share more deeply with one another. You’ve made a commitment called marriage. Time and daily life experiences will augment your history. There are more stories to be told, to be shared. That folks is intimacy. Trust starts within. As you experience life together, more stories will develop for sharing. Trust will build as you experience the joys, the sorrows, the highs and the lows. Be honest with your feelings. It has the capacity for growth and development. Think about coming in for additional sessions.

“Sounds good to me.” “Me, too.”

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

Marshall Greenstein holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at 415 E. Sixth St., Jamestown, and can be reached at , 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@post-journal.com.

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