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Should My Friend Get into Couples Counseling?

Hello. I have a friend with a very sweet girlfriend. She’s friendly, playful, successful, kind, etc.; however, they have several conflicts due to her behavior in certain situations. I wanted to share a few examples to see how they should proceed (e.g., whether this is a matter for couples counseling or individual therapy).

They have known one another for about six months. He is 54 and she is 36. He has never been married. She was married ten years, divorced with no children, and has been on her own for several years.

1) She insists that he tell her that he loves her throughout the day. Even though he says it regularly in words and in actions (e.g., flowers, home-cooked meals, making her furniture, chores on her behalf, etc.), and even if they are going to see one another an hour later. In the worst case of his not yielding, she starts sobbing.

2) She wants to spend every night together, even though he would prefer no more than four nights a week. On nights that he is on his own, she will call his emergency number long after they have officially said good night and she knows that he is asleep.

3) She sobs nearly every day on the phone and in person.

4) In public situations, she gets upset if she’s unable to sit on his lap, or if he doesn’t keep at least one hand on her, or if he sits more than a couple feet away.

5) She has a keycode to his house, and he often cooks her meals in his home. Even though he has expressed his preference, she is unwilling to offer any assistance in setting or clearing the table, washing dishes, etc. The same when they visit other people’s homes.

6) She doesn’t initiate questions. She politely listens, but if someone doesn’t ask her questions, the conversation stops.

7) In the course of driving her from California to Arizona, so that she could attend to some family business and use his SUV to bring things back, a rock hit my friend’s windshield. She never offered to chip in for the repair.

Thank you for your time.

It seems to me that this is between your friend and his girlfriend. He must be very in love with her or okay with her behavior (or both) or he wouldn’t be continuing the relationship. If he is confiding in you and expressing doubts, you could suggest that some couple counseling might help the two of them create a more balanced relationship where his needs and preferences would be given the same consideration as hers.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie



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