Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 16, 2013
What happens when you don’t like your husband’s friends? Do you pretend you do or do you make a fuss? If you make a fuss, do you feel guilty about that? Rainer, thirty-three, comes to mind. She has sleepless nights every time she and her husband go to dinner with her husband’s college roommate and his wife. She has not linked those two events together, but after many months of working with her, we have connected those dots. “Maybe you have trouble with your dinner dates?” I say, giving her permission to not like all comers. “Yes, but what am I going to do? Should I tell John (husband) that I won’t go any more? That would not come down well,” she says, suggesting that she has thought about this before. “Why can’t you tell John how you feel?” I say, suggesting that the holding in of feelings, seems to leak out in her slumber time. “He will get mad,” she says, as if to end the conversation. “Ok” I say, “so you tip-toe around him to avoid his anger?” I say, suggesting that anger can be a form of control. “I feel like a bad person for not liking his friends,” she says, making me pause. “That is curious,” I say, wondering how she leaps from not liking his friends to being a bad person. “I am thinking that if you do not have the same feelings as your husband has, then there must be something wrong with you. It is as if you do not feel entitled to have your viewpoint of the world.” I say, seeing Rainer in a new light. “Yes, I think you are telling me I have low self-esteem, and I have to agree with you, ” she says in a sad and reflective way.