When You Gotta Go to Court

I have long been a critic of the adversarial system of litigation in family law matters.  It is, in so many instances, an atrocious method of solving the problems litigator.1that beset an intimate couple as they dissolve this powerful, attachment-infused bond.  I still remember a case I had years ago when I was still representing people as a divorce lawyer.  I was working with the wife and the husband’s lawyer was a top level, high integrity, low stirring-the-pot guy.  We ended up settling the case after a full-day settlement conference and when it was over, my client had such contempt for her husband – she felt so ill-treated by him through the process, that I came away convinced that, even if the lawyers are solid and solution-focused, the process, itself, is hell on people’s psyches.  In the ensuing years, I have often felt enormous gratification helping a divorcing couple manage to resolve their legal issues while keeping the pain, anger and fear within manageable levels.  Mediation and collaborative law permit people who can work together with respect and some degree of empathy to arrive at an outcome that keeps their post-divorce relationship from diving into the pit of chaos and alienation that I so often see in the aftermath of almost every litigated divorce I have encountered.

That said, there are times you’ve just gotta go to court.

Presentation of a dispute to a judge or court commissioner may be the unavoidable choice one must make in order to establish boundaries.  Ultimately, the legal rules and decisions by a court…and the court orders that result, establish boundaries of behavior for the individuals involved.  This may be necessary when one or both people are unable to do this themselves.  One such circumstance arises when one divorcing party deeply objects to the divorce and is filled with such outrage and betrayal that efforts to reach agreement with that person on any but the most onerous and unrealistic terms are impossible.  Some people’s pain drives the couple into court so that the man or woman sitting on the high bench in robes must establish those boundaries.  I recently experienced a case such as this, in which the angry party’s lawyer enabled them in their hyperbolic sense of outrage, only to result in a brutally unfavorable court ruling for his client.  She was unable to acknowledge basic boundaries of behavior and insisted upon maintaining her righteous anger.  That anger cost her dearly, but she was constitutionally incapable of  managing her part of the conflict.  Another situation which will necessitate litigation is if one of the parties is struggling with a personality disorder, which is a “locked in,” very rigid manner of responding to stress which prevents that person from managing the anxiety and challenges of conflict.  These people need boundaries established and, usually, the court is the only instrument by which this can be accomplished.  Also, untreated substance abuse presents a significant challenge to the establishment of boundaries of behavior which will be respected.  In this minority of situations, you gotta go to court.

The Timeless Internal Tension

I know what you’re thinking – “Sounds like the name of a great new rock band!”  Well, sadly, not yet.  Maybe they will emerge from a Portland  garage some day, but, for now we’ll have to content ourselves with discussing The Timeless Internal Tension as a universal psychological experience.  It was beautifully described by one of the early masters of family therapy, Murray Bowen, as the tension between the two basic, and competing, drives we all possess – toward connection and togetherness, on the one hand,  and autonomy, on the other.  Both are vital for our sensetug.1 of well-being.  Too much of the first results in our losing ourselves in a need to merge with others.  Too much of the latter results in our utter isolation.  This is also reflected in the basic Attachment Styles described in an earlier post.   Perhaps a more appropriate image would be a person on a tight-rope, because the key to managing this tension is balance.   When we feel the forces of merger rising within us so that our sense of separate identity and integrity in the world is threatened, we need to re-calibrate.  Similarly, when our drive to be separate finds us erecting personal boundaries that become impregnable to contact from others, so that our sense of connection with others dissolves, we need to re-calibrate.  Those of us who tend  toward an avoidant (or adult dismissive) attachment style may have difficulty summoning up the internal resources to make that re-calibration.  “I hear that my partner wants something more from me but I don’t know what she means or how to satisfy her,” is the desperate and frustrated plea from the person whose psychic energy throughout life has tended toward the drive for autonomy.  “I mean nothing to my partner.  I am more alone in this relationship than if I were truly alone – and it makes my furious,” is the, often excruciating, cry from the person whose psychic energy throughout life has tended toward the drive to find a safe and secure connection.  Those of us who were blessed by temperament and early parenting to have a basically secure attachment style (about 70% according to most researchers) are able to say on that tightrope, hands firmly – but not too tightly – gripping the pole for balance.  For the remaining 30%, or so, that balancing pole is as insubstantial as a drinking straw.  Whether the tendency is toward a dismissive attachment style of separation or the anxious attachment style of merger, there seems to be a common thread of discomfort – and even shame – around this life position.  For quite understandable reasons, these two different approaches to being with another in an intimate relationship will find themselves frequently joined in an intimate relationship.  The person who tends to separate will trigger their partner, who experiences disconnection as cruelly wounding, causing an almost desperate drive to stave off isolation and to join, while the other, who tends to merger, will cause their partner to feel easily overwhelmed – triggering further withdrawal.  Thus, one’s drive to cut through protective walls for connection will be experienced by the other as a profound and threatening violation of personal boundaries.  At the same time, the other’s drive to erect protective walls to protect their own sense of integrity and separateness in the world will bring an often soul-shattering experience of isolation and dread to their partner.  This is the cycle which is so well described by Sue Johnson and the Emotionally Focused Therapy Community.  With the compassionate support of a couples therapist, each person can engage in the process of slowing down their part of the cycle and re-establishing (or establishing for the first time) the sense of safety they seek.  “You are not alone.”  “You are safe.”

Therapy Thoughts – The Dramatic Epiphany

My first therapy experiences occurred in the 1970’s, when Gestalt Therapy and dramatic breakthroughs were all the rage.  Connecting with one’s inner child and going toe to toe with the oppressive, internalized parental figure was the common and popular approach.  Part of my training was with a descendant of Bob and Mary Goulding, the developers of a pvolcano.2owerful mashup of Gestalt and Transactional Analysis which they called Redecision Therapy.  I also experienced Lifespring, which was a “kinder, gentler” cousin of the notorious Erhard Seminar Training, a very intense process that would blast through people’s defenses, with the support and (I believe) coercion of their many peers, sitting in the big conference room with them.  I had dear friends who went through Lifespring and came out with heightened energy and focus.  They would repeat to me a mantra of “reasons or results” which dismissed rationalizations for not pursuing your given life path.  If people possessed the ego-strength to deal with the rapid dismantling of their carefully constructed and long-held psychological defenses, they might  benefit from this dramatic epiphany counseling.  I have colleagues today who endorse dramatic approaches such as this, but I remain skeptical, myself.  It has been my observation (and experience) that dramatic “breakthroughs,” when facilitated (or engineered) by a therapist have a continued risk of falling back into previous modes of thought and behavior, unless reinforced thereafter.  It seems to me another example of the tendency to find a single “magic bullet” which will cure distress, without the investment of time and care which accompanies the incremental change that is more organic and less sudden.

While therapy that works will often find a person experiencing a moment (or moments) of epiphany, these, alone are not enough.  More importantly, if the groundwork isn’t laid, if we don’t carefully approach the molten material laying inside, the hoped for healing will be pushed beyond our current grasp.  I have worked with some gifted, resourceful and wise therapists over the years.  Those who supported me while I moved through my changes, at my speed and with the inner resources I then possessed, were among the greatest gifts of my life.  People can only do….well, what they can do.  Working with anyone in pain who is seeking relief will always entail a delicate and rich dance.  A therapist has many tasks and they include support and protection of the wounded heart that sits within us as well as the gentle prod which over the course of the work facilitates change.  I worked for two years when I first arrived in the Northwest with a blessedly wonderful woman, Peg Blackstone who, I grieve to say, died some years ago.  Peg taught me this lesson and I thank her in my mind and heart repeatedly.  Change is organic.  It is incremental and very personal.  Much of what we do that now causes us distress is almost always a useful strategy we devised long ago to protect ourselves.  So much energy went into this protective effort, which for so long was so vital, that when the threat receded, we were left with a strongly held suit of protective armor.  That armor separates us from the love and connection – the peace – we crave, but to simply step out of this suit will leave us naked and vulnerable.  We need to grow a new protective skin – which isn’t quite so thick.  Watch your skin next time you cut or scrape yourself.  Your body tells you – healing is incremental.

It’s Not Complicated – Acknowledgment Rules!

I often hear clients in couples therapy ask for “tools.”  I’m usually a bit wary of these requests, because exercises and tools tend to get shed and forgotten when jagged conflict blasts through the windows and doors.  “I” statements that sound so sensible and helpful in a therapist’s office morph, with high stress and conflict into, “I think you’re a thoughtequationless piece of crap,” or worse.  However, there is one set of rules that are so reliable they could be reduced to a mathematical formulas.

Partners in chronic conflict are beset with a firm fixation on their hurts, disappointments and violations, experienced at the hands of the other.  We try so desperately hard to get the other to understand how their behavior hurts us.  Yet, with dogged consistency, the other will either argue back, shut down or (maybe this is the worst) agree that they should do better and then continue the same dispiriting behavior.  Any of these responses are guaranteed to stimulate within us a need to repeat the message with greater volume and intensity.   So here are some basic rules that will help extricate struggling intimates from this maddening cycle.  Rule 1: Acknowledging what your partner is doing right =:Lowering of the stress between you. Rule 2: Lowering the stress between you + acknowledgment = Increase in the behavior you are seeking.  Rule 3: Continuing to mostly point out your partner’s shortcomings will lead to continued troubling behavior from them as they give up on trying to satisfy and please you.

While this rule also applies if you are dealing with a recalcitrant kid or a frustratingly under-performing employee, we see it almost all the time with couples in distress.  Think back of the last time you wanted to give to someone you cared about.  How did it feel when their face beamed and you knew you had satisfied them?  Now think of the last time you made the same attempt to please them and they not only failed to acknowledge your effort in their direction, but criticized you?  Just like an unwavering mathematical formula – just as surely as E=mc² – you will discourage further efforts with criticism and encourage further efforts with acknowledgment.  Of course, the highly distressed and frustrated individual might respond, “That’s all well and good, but why should I have to bow down and kiss his/her feet if they do only what I’ve been asking for over and over and over again?”  The answer is…the formula.  If you want positive behavior, acknowledge it.  U.W.’s John Gottman says that a solid relationship has a ratio of 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.  That’s close to the relationship of positives to negatives you’re looking for.

It is also important to know that the loneliness, hurt or distance you have been experiencing – and trying to get your partner to understand – will be much more easily transmitted and taken in if  the level of anger, dissatisfaction and despair are lowered and your intimate environment becomes safer.  Acknowledgment doesn’t have to include brass bands and hosannas. Usually that’s not really called for anyway.  Yet, a nod and a statement of acknowledgment and appreciation will be infinitely more effective in getting the behavior and care one craves than a reminder of how hurtful or disappointment that person is.  I’d suggest, as a tool, you try it for a week or two and see if it doesn’t start shifting your partner’s behavior.  It might be incremental at first, but remember that almost no significant change is dramatic.  Our lives are organic.  Every change is incremental – but one block adds to another and over time a strong structure is in place – built day-after-day with those incremental positive changes.

Living the Good Life, Part 2

lawyerThe values that are continually reinforced in the world of lawyers and law students are creating a generation of dissatisfied, unfulfilled people who, while they have the capacity to buy happiness, it doesn’t seem to do them much good.  So says a recent New York Times Article.  Comparing partner-track lawyers in prestige firms with their lesser-compensated fellows in the public service sector reveals that the latter have a far higher incidence of satisfaction and lower incidence of substance abuse and depression.  This is a tough message to bring to practitioners, who value self-sufficiency, the appearance of success and strength and, above all, the absolute armor of competence.  Anything which will tarnish this paramount of all images – the competent and confident attorney – is to be rejected like the Ebola-infected kiss.  Yet, it’s hard to get away from the years of research that continually return to the theme of lawyer unhappiness.  A Johns Hopkins survey of more than 25 years ago found lawyers to be the unhappiest of all professions.  Happiness expert, Martin Seligman, PhD, has suggested that lawyers’ training in prudence strongly contributes to this downward mental pressure.  The legal task is, in part, to consider all the negative things that might happen and to guard against their impact.  That is why lawyers are criticized as “deal-breakers” among business people.  Yet, greater than this is the set of incentives and values that have become embedded in legal culture.  The need to appear strong and competent to colleagues and clients – to eschew the appearance of weakness with utmost vigilance – are, I would suggest, the bane of lawyers’ lives.  It is an isolating force.  These rather vague attributes (“strength” “competence”) are measurable in the legal “coin of the realm” which begin with class ranking and law review election in law school and continue through to compensation and attainment of partnership in practice.  Finally, however, the sheer volume of practitioners who are struggling with substance abuse, anxiety or depression, or domestic struggles has forced attorneys and commentators, alike, to re-examine the source of happiness (and sadness).  Work with meaning that is consistent with personal values has emerged as the path to well-being.  This has been reiterated in a recent law review article by Florida State Law Professor Larry Krieger and his long-time research colleague, Ken Sheldon.  So the struggle continues – to humanizing effect on practitioners of this wonderful, society-supporting and enriching profession.

Best Money I Ever Spent

I’m writing a book.

Actually, I’m well into the process and expect for it to be available in August.  I have titled it Divorce (or Not): A Guide, and its 300+ pages will cover much of what I have pondered, and learned, professionally over the past 40 years.  Each step in the process of conceiving, creating and honing this book has been rich with the gems I have Cover.1uncovered about both how to approach such a project and, well,  my own darned self.  For anyone who has felt they wanted to write a book, but has not put fingertip to keyboard, here is a brief description of my experience.

1.  Conception:  Many of us have at least one book marinating inside our heads.  If you have ever said, “I’d like to write a book,” then you’ve got one resting comfortably inside your cranium.  That is step one.

2.  Blurting: I finally goosed myself into writing when I sat down in April, 2014 and prepared a Table of Contents, which was a good outline for what I wanted to say.  Then, I just blurted.  I spent about five months simply getting it out of my head and into my computer.  I knew it did not matter how it sounded because nobody was going to see it but me.

3.  First Refinement Phase(s):  Once out there, I started to laboriously review, reorganize and clean up what I had written.  Again, this was for my eyes only.

4.  First Feedback Phase:  Once I felt okay with it, I sent my work product out to a handful of dear, and smart, friends for feedback.  I was initially nervous about this step, but had recently bought a great book Thanks for the Feedback – The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well and it helped gird my loins for external comment on my baby.  People were generous and spot-on with a number of their comments.  In response, I put the book through a massive re-organization and re-write.  I shared the new approach with a smaller group of people because, to be honest, I was afraid of burning people out.  After all, it is quite the gift of time and energy to read someone else’s work and give thoughtful, cogent feedback.  After positive comment, I was ready to find an editor.

5.  Working With an Editor:  Thus, the title of this blog post.  A web search brought me to the site of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, and after a fairly thorough vetting process I chose my current favorite person in the entire world (FPITEW) other than my wife and daughter (FPITEWOTMWAD), Jennifer D. Munro.  Last week, I finished  reviewing her comments and I don’t think a day went by that I failed to send her an ardent appreciative email.  A good editor projects such care onto your creation.  The process of improving the work product while maintaining the writer’s voice is challenging and if you are lucky, you will find that combination of skill and kindness.  (It didn’t hurt that Jennifer liked my sense of humor.)  I believe I am an excellent writer.  I enjoy the process and for years have received uniformly positive feedback.  I believe this affirmation gave me the confidence to embark on the project in the first place.  Yet, I have learned a great deal about writing and the places I can improve, markedly,  through Jennifer’s kind and rapier-sharp feedback.  There were many places throughout my review of her “track changes” comments that I thought, “This comment is appropriate and helpful.  I can imagine it having been made by someone with a harsher hand and instead of learning an important lesson I can use in the future, I would have been chagrined, embarrassed, defensive and dispirited.  I’d had enough of that kind of treatment in my first year in law school many years ago.”

So here’s to you Jennifer Munro.  Every cent I pay you for your service is the best money I ever spent.

If I End Up With Alzheimer’s…….

When we baby boomers get together, I find that the conversation often migrates over to talk consistent with our age and stage in life.  Our bodies are no longer taken for granted, as they are with my daughter and other young people we are blessed to know (all in their 20’s and 30’s).  High on the list of topics is the frightening specter of Alzheimer’s, which can slowly rob us of our identity.  No other organ can fail and strip us of our sense of self like our Sandy.Bembrains.  In a brilliantly written, deeply felt and penetrating piece in the 5/17/15 New York Times Magazine, Robin Marantz Henig tracks the degeneration of Sandy Bem, a woman of unfathomable life force who was diagnosed at the age of 65.   Upon presentation with the unalterable diag – and prog-nosis, she made the decision that when she had deteriorated to the point of being completely dependent and unable to “be myself,” she would voluntarily end her own life.

I cannot count the times I have heard friends and comrades in my generation utter with complete assurance that if they were diagnosed with a degenerative dementia, they would choose to end their lives before they reached a certain point of cognitive deterioration.  I have known people in my parents’ generation who said the same thing, and who invariably failed to do so.  Such a statement is like the thoughts that ease the pain of depression – “I could kill myself.”  Yet such thoughts, which promise relief from the pounding, dominating inner pain, are not, in themselves, a plan to suicide.  Similar is the, “If I get Alzheimer’s, I’ll…..” statement.  Sandy Bem, however, followed through in a thoughtful and very focused manner.  The story is one of fortitude, grief, and devotion.

I have never rSandy.Bem.2ead, in so short a space, a clearer portrait of the unrelenting loss of person-hood.  As her time for action on her commitment approached, her husband (from whom she had been separated, but never divorced) was her constant companion.  Her adult daughter resisted the decision and wanted one more year – one more month – whatever she could get – for her mother to spend time with her baby.  I have a good friend, Don Desonier, who has transitioned from a family lawyer and mediator to a caregiver/coach and family mediator for families struggling with this dark and painful challenge.  He was a long-time caregiver for his wife, Nancy, who died two years ago after her losing battle with dementia.

There are many changes that our society will experience in the coming decades.  My daughter’s whip-smart boyfriend said over dinner this weekend that the political landscape will be completely different in 20 years.  As we have come to accept – actually embrace – same sex unions, I believe we will accept – even embrace – conscious dying, as we struggle as a culture to address the new challenges wrought by longevity and medicine’s maintenance of the physical body.  The New York Times essay, together with the most affecting piece I have ever read  (in which Katy Butler describes the mental deterioration of her brilliant father who had been a professor at Wesleyan University) are but two of a growing number of personal reflections which wrestle with one of the great personal, familial and cultural challenges of our age.

Living the Good Life ?

A New York Times article appeared on April 27th featuring the struggles faced by recent law school graduates, 20% of whom, according to one survey, are not working at a job weatlh.1that requires a license to practice law.  This rather desperate state of affairs was introduced by the story of 29 year old Jonathan Wang, a Columbia Law School graduate who is quoted as saying, “I would spend three years at school in New York, then work for a big law firm and make $160,000 a year, and someday, I would become a partner and live the good life.”

Really?

So what is the “good life” that Jonathan and his cohorts strive to achieve?   It sounds an awful lot like making a lot of money and then enjoying all the money he made.  I don’t hear him talking about a deeply satisfying work life which responds to whatever inner calling he brings with him – be it service to a population he is attracted to, intellectual curiosity, deep engagement in the machinery that makes this society just and workable.  Does the “good life” include time with his family – the chance to spend leisurely weekend mornings lazing in bed with his kid(s) crawling all over him or the loving rituals he will share with his partner that will keep them secure and bonded?  Does “the good life” include a spiritual calling – be it a membership in an embracing congregation, or the awe he might experience in moments of private reflection?  Does it include doing good works for no compensation other than the knowledge that you have contributed to the well-being of others?

This mwealth.2ay be very generational, but I really don’t understand it when young people say they want to retire when they are 50, or even 40.  I never hear (it may be said, but I’m not hearing it) that these people, who wish to sacrifice their early adult years for a “good life” later, speak of what they want to do with this good life other than spend the money they have sacrificed to amass.  Meanwhile, they will likely find they must spend a lot of time, emotional energy  (and money) attempting to reweave the bonds with their loved ones which have frayed and stretched as they have become embedded in a culture of striving for great financial reward.  We should not forget that lawyers have a unique and valuable role in our society.  No other profession studies the way a society works – how common disputes can be resolved in a productive way.  It has been said that doctors are healers of the body; ministers are healers of the soul and lawyers are the healers of the society.  It is a bit of a perversion to see the practice of law as an avenue to riches.  It has become sadly common to think of it that way.  Yet, we can’t escape the fact that lawyers have a frighteningly high proportion of their population suffering from depression.  Google “lawyers” and “depression” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  It’s good, actually, that the practice of law may no longer be a gilded path to wealth.  Hopefully, this will result in a greater number of young people not succumbing to the siren call of some “good life” and who may choose, instead, to contribute their skill, knowledge and earned wisdom so we can all live a good life.

 

And the Winner for Most Ridiculous Ad Message is……..

I was watching some sporting event over the weekend and was jolted alert by a Cadillac ad which carried one of the most offensive messages I had ever heard blurt through my speakers.  “A weak man urges compromise,” said the narrator as a brand spanking new, full loaded Caddy rolled into view.cadillac-logo-wallpaper

Seriously?  Who were the people that cooked up that piece of rancid filet mignon?  In my experience, refusal to compromise has led to governments that shut down, rampaging armies that blow across a distant desert and, on a more personal level, couples that explode in pain and acrimony.   Compromise is actually a sign of confidence and inner strength.  Compromise is a sign of resilience.  We all have our ideas of the way our lives should go and what we’d like others to do in order to satisfy our needs.  Those things aren’t going to happen much of the time.  Why?  Because almost always, those other people have different, sometimes incompatible needs. This comes up all the time in mediation.  That’s why mediators are so valuable.  Two (or more) people with deeply felt and important competing needs are challenged by the necessity of resolving their conflict.  How do you think that’s going to work when one or both are thinking, “To compromise is to display weakness”?

Compromise does not mean loss.  One of the most inaccurate and destructive adages I have heard (and I have heard it frequently from litigating lawyers) is that, “the best settlement is one in which both sides feel equally bad.”  Compromise does not mean you are giving up something that pains you to abandon.  Rather, it means that you have chosen to relax your insistence that every element of your collection of needs is so important that you will experience pain upon their relinquishment.  That is not true for people who can summon up the resilience to understand that all needs are not based on unbreakable principle and a personal goal may be compromised in order to fulfill the needs of the other person(s).  Compromise is not a sign of weakness.  Effective mediators are also valuable in that positions which one feels they cannot compromise, can be translated (transformed) into “interests” which can be satisfied in a variety of ways.  Positions force us to draw lines in the sand.  These positions are always, always, supported by needs and interests which can often be satisfied in ways that will allow the other person(s) to experience acknowledgment of their own needs and interests.

Compromise reflecting weakness?  Far from it.  Shame on you, Cadillac, for projecting this painful myth.  Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Therapy Thoughts – How Often to Come In?

There was a time when I would be very accommodating to couples who wanted to come in every other week or every three weeks.  The reasons calendar.were certainly understandable.  Finances are always a consideration.  Many couples are very busy and have to work to squeeze in a couples therapy appointment when they can.  Two jobs and children will do that to you!  Then, a while ago, I realized that this was a big mistake and a disservice to my couples.  Here’s why –

Albert Einstein shared this brilliant insight: We cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem.  No better words could describe effective relationship therapy. In a prior post I discussed the rule that what couples are talking about really isn’t what they are talking about.  To repeat what I said there, people come into a therapist’s office locked into this repeated disagreement that is driving them nuts.  A very common example many of us have experienced involves division of household chores.  The woman, usually, complains (often bitterly) that he does not help around the house.  She feels like his maid and she is very angry about that.  The man will often respond that this is just not so.  Why, just two days ago, he did all the dishes after dinner and she gives him no credit for the mowing, gutter work and other chores he performs.  Her exasperated reply is that he doesn’t understand.  It’s the day-to-day chores that keep the house running that all fall on her.  He gets defensive and comes up with more evidence of his own contributions.    Many maddening couples’ conflicts look like debates.  One person states their side.  The other responds by stating their side.  The first repeats what they said to begin with, maybe trying to say it a different way, maybe ladling on more supportive evidence.  Whatever the words that spill forth, these conflicts usually reduce down to “I’m right,.”  “No, I’m right.” “No, I’m right.”   Like I said earlier, it drives these poor people nuts.  The chance of a satisfying resolution falls just behind that of Donald Trump converting to Islam and losing the wig.

One of the keys to effective Emotionally Focused Therapy is the dawning understanding by each partner that the process of their conflict is what needs healing.  They will never resolve the content of their disagreements without understanding and finding the safety to share the needs that underlie the cycle of conflict.  The content is a proxy for what’s really eating at each of them.  Understanding their particular cycle will almost always lower the anxiety and energy which fuels the intense and painful conflicts they endure.  Yet, this is a new way of thinking.  Without consistent reminders and the efforts of a therapist who can point out who the raging disputes over……whatever is upsetting them, a couple will fall back into the thinking that brought them into the therapist’s office to start with.  Thus, if couples only come in once every two or three or four weeks during the initial phase of this work, they will almost never get it.  They will spin round and round in their cycle.  They’ll maybe get it during a particular meeting, but then completely lose the thread if the gap is greater than a week.  So, really, in this kind of work, any schedule for meetings that extends beyond one week, is, I believe, a waste of time and money.  My recommendation – don’t engage in relationship counseling (particularly Emotionally Focused Therapy) unless you are willing to devote the first three or four months to weekly meetings.