"I Feel Like a Single Mom"

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The Counselor's Turn

When They Met

"I started by asking Kate and Jack whether Kate's giving up her music career was a joint decision," said the counselor. "They were both surprised by the question. Jack said that as far as he could remember, it was Kate's choice to quit. But Kate sat quietly for a long time. She finally burst into tears, saying, 'Music was my life. I always thought I'd go back to it someday, even if just as a hobby. But I didn't want to let it get in the way of marriage and motherhood.'

"She went on to say that her parents had always discouraged her from pursuing a music career and urged her instead to marry a man who could take care of her financially. They didn't want her to struggle as they had with six children to support on her father's unpredictable pay. When Kate started dating Jack and told her parents that he was going to medical school, they were overjoyed. They encouraged Kate to put all her energies into the future of the relationship, and that's exactly what she did.

"The news of this infuriated Jack. 'I knew it,' he said. 'Kate did always see me as just a good provider.'

"Kate was ashen. 'He's right to a certain extent,' she whispered. 'I was following my parents' dream for me. But I have always loved Jack. I'll never forget the moment we met, when he asked for my autograph. My hand was shaking while I signed his program. He was so handsome and he looked me right in the eye with the most amazing smile. I wasn't thinking then about his earning power; I was just falling in love. But when we got married, there was this tape in my head of my mother telling me that one of the reasons the match was a good one was that Jack would be a good provider.'

Compromises and Solutions

"In order for the healing process to begin, these two desperately needed to start talking again. I suggested that they spend two evenings a week together, away from the children. Reluctantly, Kate agreed to find a babysitter, and Jack said he'd cut back on his gym time and volunteer projects. During these meetings, Kate and Jack were to take turns honestly expressing a satisfying vision of the future. Each one was to talk for a full five minutes without interruption. Then the other was to summarize what he or she had heard. I told them that the goal was to uncover hidden agendas and be able to work toward mutually satisfying compromises and solutions. 

"The results were wonderful. Kate was able to express how much she missed her music, and the fact that she had been trying to live vicariously through her daughter became clear. At the same time, Jack was able to let Kate know how much his volunteer work meant to him, and how rewarding it was for him to help the disadvantaged. He did agree, though, to limit the time he spent on his volunteer projects.

Continued on page 6:  The Counselor's Turn, continued


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