I’m currently working separately with two couples in which the husband mistreated the wife. With one couple, the husband tended to be critical and dogmatic. In the second couple, the husband tended to be dismissive and disconnected. In both cases, over a long period of time, the wives became significantly dissatisfied with the marriages.
With both couples, it was not initially clear if the marriages were salvageable. In couple number one, the husband had made significant changes during the course of couples counseling, but it wasn’t apparent that the years of mistreatment could be overcome.
In couple number two, the husband was becoming more connected even prior to the couples counseling and continued to make changes during the course of couples counseling. But with so many years of neglect, it wasn’t evident that marriage would survive. In fact, the husband’s attempts to connect could trigger the wife, reminding her of all the time he wasn’t there for her.
I’m still not sure either wife will overcome the years of mistreatment or neglect. At a minimum both husbands are making the necessary changes. The couples counseling at least gives them a chance—to see if the wives can move to a place of forgiveness.
Richard Rein, Ph.D.