It was a terrible year. After his car accident, John couldn’t stop taking the pain pills. He was unable to function at work and lost his job. For 12 grueling months Karen struggled to keep them and their three young kids afloat. She worked two jobs, did laundry and food shopping, and drove the children to daycare. It was as if she was a single parent. John had essentially abandoned her.

Finally, John agreed to enter a drug treatment center. He stopped using pills and had been clean for 8 months when they came to see us. John was diligently looking for a job and took over all the tasks that overwhelmed Karen. Yet, Karen was extremely angry and resentful. If something was not done to her satisfaction or he was forgetful, she blasted him. John felt unjustly attacked and hurt. He had worked so hard to complete his program successfully and was doing everything he could to re-engage with their life. No matter how hard he tried it was never “good enough.”

In Couple to Couple® Coaching we helped Karen and John accept and embrace the concept of “the past as present,” meaning that the past is still in the present when resentments are suppressed and unprocessed. The way we respond to our partners is filtered through our previous experiences with them.

Karen’s feelings of anger at John for abandoning her had never been addressed. She denied her resentment, not realizing it was very much alive within her unconscious mind. Little things seemed to trigger her. She lashed out at John with an intensity that didn’t fit the current situation.

In our sessions with this couple, we talked about the fearful and hurtful experience Karen had just lived through with John. Karen described the profound impact that John’s addiction had on her life. She was able to see how her intense feelings were stuffed away. She had been too busy to even think about her anger, sadness and fear when she was just struggling to survive. Now she could reflect on how John’s addiction and rehabilitation affected her.

We processed Karen’s deep feelings of abandonment, disconnection, hurt and fear. John had an opportunity to work through the feelings of guilt and self-loathing that he had internalized. The authenticity of this couple and their willingness to face and embrace difficult feelings helped them build trust and a deeper connection than they had ever had. They were able to let go and be more present in their relationship.


Your relationship deserves the highest level of support. Relationship Experts, Bob and Lori Hollander are committed to helping individuals and couples build connection and deepen bonds in a world that often makes it difficult.

Call them at 410-363-2825 or email them today, info@relationshipswork.com.


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