Bert’s therapy: Faith

I’m requesting a diagnosis.

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Of what?

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My marriage.  

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In your professional opinion, what’s the core problem?

 

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Lack of faith.

  

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Faith?  Like in God?

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No, in relationship. 

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Explain.

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If every morning you swing your feet out of bed and find a solid floor to stand on, you develop faith in the floor. 

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And if whenever you need them your important relationships are there for you, you develop faith in relationship.

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And if they’re not…

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You don‘t.

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Then I haven’t.

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Common problem, actually, among people who grew up in dysfunctional families.

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My wife and I both did. 

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I figured.

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Can you create faith in relationship?

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If you want to.  It takes some work.

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What kind of work?

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You have to practice mutuality. 

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Another new word.  Okay, I’ll bite.  What’s “mutuality”?

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The belief that what’s good for one partner is ultimately good for the other.

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Sounds like codependency.

Actually it’s the opposite.  Codependency means you try to control each other because you expect to be disappointed or hurt.

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But mutuality means you  stop controlling, because you expect to get fed.  You have faith that whatever you give to the relationship will somehow come back to you. 

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Yes, but I don’t really believe that.

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That’s where the work comes in.  At first you have to fake it.

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Until I make it?

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Until she starts feeding you back.  After that you won’t have to fake anything.

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But what if I feed her and feed her and she never feeds me?

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Well, that would mean my theory is all wrong.

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And you can throw it right back in my faith. 

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And we’re always at each other’s throats
You know it drives me up the wall
But most of the time I’m just blowing off steam
And I wish to God you’d leave me
Baby I wish to God you’d stay
Life’s so different than it is in your dreams

~ Tom Waits, Please call me baby (4:25), from the album Keeping the Faith.

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7 responses to “Bert’s therapy: Faith

  • linneann

    Monkeytraps, aren’t there people who are so broken they don’t respond to being fed? I feel like my kids and I fed and fed and fed their dad for a very long time and he never responded.
    I like “throw it right back in my faith.” Clever.

    • Steve Hauptman

      Sadly, yes. Probably the worst examples of this are pathological narcissists — folks whose brokenness takes the form of a sort of black hole of neediness which never gets filled. If that’s what you and your kids lived with, I’m sorry, especially if it left any of you feeling inadequate in any way. Faith is wonderful, but it has to be balanced by realism. And you can feed someone for just so long before you yourself start to starve.

      • linneann

        What do you know! That’s exactly what he is. Fortunately, most of the damage was done to me. I keep a close eye on my kids but they seem to be very well-adjusted. Thanks for answering.

  • attachmentgirl

    Steve,
    It never fails to amaze me how much profound truth you can squeeze into a few lines of dialog. Working through our mistrust and learning to have faith in the relationship was exactly what saved our marriage. I was blessed in that my husband and I were both willing to see our own responsibility (OK, it took me a little while :)) and we both worked very hard to fake it. Really good reminder, thank you.

    AG

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks, AG. Good for you both. Yeah, responsibility-taking is a bitch. But if there’s a magic medicine for wounded marriages, that’s got to be it.

  • Vicki Slater

    Love you guys! Pearls of wisdom with a smile. Makes me love to hurt!

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