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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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Dr. Levang - I figured if you were around, we could chat

Resolved Question:

Dr. Levang -
I figured if you were around, we could chat more...
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Dr Levang :

I see that you are offline right now. I will be back online around 5:00 pm. Would be glad to chat then...or in to the evening.

Dr Levang :

Thanks.

Customer:

Sorry we've missed each other...

Dr Levang :

Hi,

Dr Levang :

I am here if you have time.

Dr Levang :

How about leaving me a couple times and days so that we can find a time to chat.

Dr Levang :

Thanks.

Customer:

I am around now if you are free...

Customer:

My husband wants to quit therapy.

Dr Levang :

Hi,

Dr Levang :

Does he provide a rationale?

Dr Levang :

Or does he feel that the columns are sufficiently lined up?

Customer:

I think the latter

Customer:

He has been doing a much better job with helping

Customer:

The emotive stuff I know isn't going to come naturally

Dr Levang :

What are your thoughts on ending therapy?

Customer:

I don't want to force him to continue, but I don't know...

Customer:

I feel it's beneficial, at least for me.

Customer:

Understanding where he's coming from on things...

Dr Levang :

Do you feel that the progress he has made is what you would call "life changing" in that he will continue with these new behaviors, understands their importance, and benefits from them?

Customer:

Ummmm...not sure I would go that far!

Dr Levang :

Yes...forcing him to continue would be counter-productive. Would he agree to stopping for awhile and then coming back....say in a month?

Customer:

I could put that out there on the table.

Dr Levang :

It is typical practice to reduce sessions and move into more of a maintenance schedule.

Customer:

Could I still go to see her or do marriage counselors prefer both parties coming?

Dr Levang :

Yes..you can continue to still see her.

Customer:

When we first went, I was definitely miserable and do not feel that way anymore. I wouldn't say I'm a ray of sunshine, but things are better.

Dr Levang :

The ideal is to have both people involved in therapy...but what typically happens is that at some point one person continues and the other drops out. Then we try to get them to come back every once and awhile to work on the "couple" stuff.

Dr Levang :

Great! What do you believe has changed? In you...and in him?

Customer:

I thought all of his actions indicated a lack of caring. So, when he wasn't helpful around the house or with the kids, I saw it as unloving, unkind behavior.

Dr Levang :

A very normal assumption.

Customer:

But, in his defense, I never really asked him. And I never saw what he did - paying the bills, keeping the household afloat, going to work, etc., as his way of showing love.

Customer:

So, now I feel kinder towards him.

Customer:

I thought he didn't love me, honestly.

Customer:

Because love, in my language, is gifts and cards and outward displays of affection.

Dr Levang :

And...yes...when you were able to see the "contributions" he was making...the picture became clearer. And...the ways he contributes are very male-oriented. I am assuming that your father did these same things...but in his case...he was also warm, tender, and loving. So because your husband didn't show that part...you missed the other half of the equation.

Customer:

Yes, it was never an issue with my dad whether I was loved or not!

Dr Levang :

And truly...love isn't about possessions and things - although those are very nice...even wonderful - love is about matters of the heart.

Customer:

I know, I know - but that is definitely how it was shown in my family.

Customer:

You were rewarded for "good behavior" with things

Dr Levang :

And so we can say that your blueprint was that loving spouses helped with the house and kids and bought gifts and showed affection and loved with abandonment. And...your husband did fit that blueprint.

Customer:

He did?

Dr Levang :

But...you are not that little girl who needs to be rewarded! You are good and you don't need to earn anything here. You get to be loved without conditions...without performing...without doing.

Dr Levang :

I meant did not fit that blueprint - sorry.

Customer:

Gotcha. Sorry - I still must feel, in some way, that I do need to perform...working on that.

Dr Levang :

Tell me this....do you make your kids perform in order that you shower them with love?

Customer:

Absolutely not

Dr Levang :

I know it's a stupid question...but I want you to think about it for at least 5 seconds.

Dr Levang :

So...why do you have to perform them?

Dr Levang :

Do you have to perform for them to love you?

Customer:

With my sassy daughter, perhaps :)

Dr Levang :

LOL - better a sassy daughter than one that doesn't communicate t all.

Customer:

Love is different with a nine-year-old. It's always conditional with her!

Dr Levang :

That's because she's nine...but you get the point here.

Customer:

But, with me, looking back at my childhood, I had a very type-A older sister.

Customer:

High-achiever, not a trouble-maker.

Customer:

So, performing - being funny - was my way to get attention.

Dr Levang :

So...then that role was taken...then you HAD to take a different role...and what was left...

Dr Levang :

Sure...being funny...making others laugh at your expense...you had to fit in some way..had to have a role...you moulded yourself into a particular role...yup...that's what we do.

Customer:

Yes, so I have this self-depreciating sense of humor

Dr Levang :

And...you get mileage out of it.

Customer:

Of course

Dr Levang :

But...today as an adult...do you still want to be that funny person?

Customer:

Sometimes. I like to wear different hats.

Customer:

It gets tiring being the entertainment all of the time.

Customer:

Even with you I try to come up with funny lines.

Dr Levang :

Exactly! Sometimes we need to let go of those old roles and re-imagine ourselves.

Dr Levang :

Think about it this way...you no longer live in the same home as you did when you decided your only role was to be a funny kid.

Customer:

Thank g-d!

Dr Levang :

Amen!You now live in a completely different environment.

Customer:

Right...

Dr Levang :

You are not that little girl...yes..you carry her with you...and she is at your core...but you can evolve into the person you want to be ...even let us say the person you were destined to be.

Customer:

Ok

Dr Levang :

We all get caught up in those old roles...and they were functional at one point in time...but then they no longer fit. And it is up to us to shed those old personas and discover our unique self.

Dr Levang :

So...you saw your husband from the lens of that little girl...your blueprint said he should do this and that and it will mean that he loves me.

Customer:

So much work, so little time...

Dr Levang :

But then the darn guy did not follow the blueprint.

Customer:

I know - shame on him!

Dr Levang :

And you've been trying to get him to do the blueprint.

Dr Levang :

The guy can read columns but he just can't read blueprints!

Customer:

Right!

Dr Levang :

So...you keep looking at the blueprint and you keep getting disappointed, hurt, and a sense that this guy just can't love you.

Customer:

Exactly. But, looking at it, I think (for the most part) he is just fine with my blueprint.

Customer:

Which says a lot about this guy, because you know I am a handful.

Dr Levang :

But...it's not been true. He does love you. You just have two blueprints and you need to read his and vice versa. Then you can draw up a new blueprint that fits for you. Which....by the way...you've already done to some degree because you have not parented your children exactly as your parents did nor exactly as his parents did.

Dr Levang :

That's great that he is fine with your blueprint...I do think, however, that some modifications have been made and maybe a little tweaking is required. Still...if he likes yours and wants to read off yours then hurrah, terrific, yahoo.

Customer:

You are right.

Dr Levang :

And isn't that something...you are a handful and he loves you.

Dr Levang :

Really...you have come a long way in a short amount of time and I am proud as heck for you!

Dr Levang :

The dropping out of therapy is really okay...I would get him to commit to coming back in a month or so just as a check in. The therapist will appreciate some closure on his part.

Customer:

Well, thanks. Don't be too proud yet.

Dr Levang :

LOL.

Customer:

Ok...do you think I should still go or give it a rest?

Dr Levang :

Not to worry...I know you are a handful so I'm prepared with my special "proud as heck of handfuls" expectation.

Customer:

Hey, someone has to keep Cigna from making too much money...

Dr Levang :

Well...do you feel that you have sufficient new learning and new awareness to fly solo for awhile?

Dr Levang :

That would be the determining factor in my mind.

Customer:

I just worry I use therapy as a crutch

Dr Levang :

If that's you worry...then go solo...

Customer:

Ok, but maybe I will decrease it...baby steps.

Dr Levang :

The reality is that what you needed most was a safe venue to allow open communication between you and your husband.

Dr Levang :

It wasn't so much what the therapist said as that she was a neutral party and had the environment that allowed true discussion to come out.

Customer:

I hear you. I don't think I could have been as open and honest if it were just us.

Customer:

And she wasn't neutral...she totally agreed with me :)

Customer:

Kidding

Customer:

But thank you for having me see my husband's ways through a different lens.

Dr Levang :

You absolutely had to get down in the dirt and face some of your fears and allow yourself to turn the coin over and over a few times...but the fact remains that you are an intelligent woman who wanted to change her life and that's what you did!

Customer:

Because quite honestly, when I first started talking to you, I was in a bad place!

Dr Levang :

I did understand that dark place you were at, yet I also saw someone who wanted a positive outcome...and was willing to put the effort in to thinking and processing differently.

Dr Levang :

And...that is what you have done. You opened your mind - and your heart!

Customer:

I will keep you posted, for sure.

Dr Levang :

Thank you for allowing me to walk alongside you this far...I do feel very proud of your persistence and your ability to face the pain of feeling unloved.

Dr Levang :

Take care!

Customer:

Thanks again. Talk soon!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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