"He Flirts Too Much"
The Counselor's TurnThe Other Point of View
"Patty and Nick's marriage was a time bomb," said the counselor. "Each felt persecuted, misunderstood and unloved, and each insisted it was the other's fault. The key to saving their marriage was, first, to get both of them to accept responsibility for their problems, and second, to guide them toward compassion and empathy.
"Charismatic and considerate when he wanted to be, Nick could also be a domineering man who was used to having his own way. He had learned long ago that he could use charm to his advantage, so he put a positive spin on everything: He wasn't flirting, he was 'sociable.'
"Nick frequently came late to our early sessions or even blew them off entirely. But when I told him that his lateness suggested that he didn't really want to fight for his marriage, he began to see how his actions could be negatively interpreted by others-- including his wife.
"Patty was a stunning, accomplished woman. Sadly, to a large extent, she was still wrestling with feelings of inferiority that dated back to when her father favored her sister. This gave Patty an insatiable need to be loved and praised. 'You're rejecting Nick in much the same way you always felt rejected yourself,' I pointed out.
"Patty's parents had always told her what to do and encouraged her to quit if something became too difficult. As a result, patty never learned from her mistakes.