What is it about Betty and Ivy marriage counseling that made them happily married for over thirty-five years? How did their story compare to the more than one hundred other marriages that I’ve seen over the years? Why did they make the decision to go down this road rather than another? In some ways, they were like any other couple who decided to put aside their differences and work together to preserve their love for each other.
I was fortunate to know both of them while doing my research for a book I wrote about family therapy and its effectiveness. Out of all of the couples I studied, Betty and Ivy were the most successful at developing an intimate relationship based on communication. They became an “ics” couple, where each of them filled in the gaps left by other family members when there was a disruption in communication or when one family member had to move to a different area. Through family relationship and marriage counseling, they slowly discovered who they really were and learned how to fill in the gaps with sharing that benefited everyone involved.
When I interviewed both of them, I learned that what had brought them together over the years was similar. Both of them were willing to listen carefully to what the other experienced, and both of them were willing to do what needed to be done to solve problems and improve the relationship. They both realized that if they waited any longer to address the issues that were leading to the divorce, it could have potentially led to a nasty divorce that would have been even harder to repair than the marriage had already been. The marriage counseling worked better because they both committed to doing whatever it took to make their marriage work and be the best for their “better half.”
One of the most powerful moments that I witnessed during my beth and Jerry marriage counseling with both of them was when they discussed their children. They came to realize that while both of them had made a commitment to do what was right for their family, their children also needed to be included in that commitment. Both of them became determined to continue to pursue their goals and be the best parents that they could be to their children. This same consideration was demonstrated when they decided to continue with the beth and Jerry marriage counseling even after their second child was born.
In an episode that occurred later in the series, we also saw Morty and Bebe discuss how their first encounter with each other’s son, Ben, had a lasting impression on both of them. Morty remembered that when he dropped out of high school, he went to live with Bebe and they adopted him as their own. As a result of that incident, he began to miss his family and missed being part of their home. During one of their beth and Jerry marriage counseling sessions, Bebe shared with Morty her own experiences with her own adopted son, describing how she felt whenever she spoke his name or saw his pictures. Because of their history, Morty and Bebe came to a parenting plan that would make sure that Ben did not experience the same kinds of separation anxiety that many other adopted children have felt.
In an interesting episode, “Pilot,” Bebe, now identified as Anonymous, gave a reading to Morty about his future. She advised him to consider choosing a name that was meaningful to him, but also one that was not necessarily related to his biological family. In the end, however, she counseled him to choose a name that related to his work. In this case, it was Anonymous. The name Anonymous is used throughout the show and by several characters. We even know the correct pronunciation of Anonymous.