Relationship counselling may be necessary. At the end of the last chapter of Rick & Manda’s fight, Rick stormed out of the house after feeling accosted by Manda’s, shall we say, rather direct presentation of her complaint. Trying to simply decompress from his own stressful day, all he could think to do was escape. His effort to find relief by putting up his hands seemed a futile endeavour, so he found his escape out the back door. (To read chapter one of Rick & Manda’s fight click here )
What’s Rick to do? You may have a pretty strong opinion about that. “Try actually talking to your wife in the first place and you won’t have this problem. And now that you are here, you had better think up one good apology.” Tough to argue with that. Heeding either suggestion may be helpful. Rick may indeed not have done the best job of listening to Manda, but what’s done is in the past, and at this point, even the best apology may not be enough to reopen Manda’s heart to him.
The sad truth is, there is going to be conflict. You may wish this weren’t the case, but it’s really unavoidable. The question for Rick is, now that he finds himself here, does he consider relationship counselling? What can he do to repair his relationship while still maintaining a level of self respect? The answer to that question is what every man who has ever been in Rick’s position would give his eye teeth for. Clearly, there is no single solution that will instantly make things all better, but lets see if there are a couple of things he can do to help his evening go a little better.
First off, he should probably stay on his walk long enough to sort out some of his feelings. In fact, it’s probably not entirely a bad thing that he stormed out. It would have been nice for him to have let Manda know where he was going and reassure her that he would be back to talk later, but it’s too late for that now. He’s already half way around the block and his head has started to clear. Although still somewhat scrambled, he was finally beginning to sort out what had happened.
Manda had been totally unfair as to blindside him like that; but had he really told her she was just like her mother? Out loud? He was wishing he could take that back. But it was hard to say anything nice when he felt attacked. As much as she hated to admit it, she did take after her mom. At least in some ways. But in all fairness, he had been distracted lately. Manda had asked him plenty of times over the past few weeks to talk, and each time he had put her off until later. Later seemed to become much later. Anyone in her situation would run out of patience eventually. He was almost all the way around the block by now and heading back to the house. He had some making up to do. It wouldn’t be easy, but at least he knew where to start.
She was curled up in the single rocker as Rick sat down across the room. She didn’t look up. Why was it always so hard to start these conversations? After a couple of false starts he finally found himself putting together a complete thought, “I left because I felt overwhelmed and attacked. But I can understand that you have felt alone. I’ve been really distracted lately and you have taken the brunt of that. We need to take some time together.” Manda’s face softened and her eye’s rose to meet his. Rick knew they still had a lot of work to do, but he felt they were going to be able to get through it. Relationship Counselling needed to be on the table.
What happened here? What did Rick & Manda do that turned the tide for them? There are a couple of things I want to draw to highlight: First, Rick was able to see things from Manda’s perspective. This is crucial. As long as he sees things only from his vantage point he will remain defensive and unable to provide her with any kind of compassion. His willingness to see things from her viewpoint provides him with empathy for her, while still not making himself the villain. This creates room for a conciliatory conversation. It’s a smart move.
Manda is helping too. In raising her eyes to meet his, she is accepting his attempt to repair the rift between them and sending a strong message: “I care about us, and I really want to fix this.” When you’re reeling from sharp words and are busy licking your wounds, it’s hard to receive an olive branch. Rick appreciates her softness and this serves to further warm his heart to her. They talked well into the night. It was long past due.