Tom and Jordan are back to visit Mandy, their marriage therapist, about their struggles as a married couple.
This session, Tom is the one that is angry. He wanted to do something nice for Jordan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but when he brought home flowers, they weren’t her favorite and she seemed off-put that he didn’t know that. Then, to make things worse, they got into an argument when he asked her to pick somewhere to eat and she said it didn’t matter, but then shot down every suggestion he made. Finally, after getting into a full-fledged argument, they just ordered takeout from their usual little deli and sulked on the couch – date night and Valentine’s Day ruined.
Flash forward to today, as Mandy welcomes Tom and Jordan into her office and begins the session by asking them to recount the story of their Valentine’s Day. As they speak, it is clear that both of them are feeling frustrated and a bit helpless. Tom is feeling like he can’t do anything right and Jordan is feeling like her feelings aren’t being heard.
Let’s listen in as Mandy provides some advice:
Mandy begins by addressing Tom. “Tom, let’s start by talking about the gift you got Jordan. It sounds like you had good intentions in bringing her flowers, but it wasn’t her favorite. How did that make you feel?”
Tom sighed. “I felt like a failure. I wanted to do something nice for her, but I couldn’t even get that right.”
Mandy nodded in understanding. “It can be really difficult to feel like you can’t do anything right, especially when it’s something as important as celebrating your relationship. It’s important to recognize what you did well – you thought of Jordan, you made the effort to get her a gift – and use that to motivate you to do better in the future. You could start by talking to Jordan about her favorite flowers and make a mental note for next time.”
Mandy then shifted her focus to Jordan. “Jordan, it sounds like you were really hurt when Tom brought you the wrong kind of flowers. That’s completely understandable. But it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the gift, but also the thought behind it. So when Tom asked you to pick a restaurant, how could you have expressed what you needed without making him feel like his ideas weren’t valued?”
Jordan thought for a moment. “I could have said that it didn’t matter to me what we did, as long as we were together. And then I could have offered a few suggestions so he could have a starting point.”
Mandy smiled. “Exactly. It’s important to remember that it’s not about the destination, but the journey. Tom, when Jordan suggests things, it’s important to listen and try to come up with a compromise that you both agree on. That way, Jordan still feels heard, and you can still take charge of the situation without making her feel like her opinions don’t matter.”
Mandy continued to discuss communication strategies and how to better understand each other’s needs. She provided examples of how to phrase requests and how to be a better listener. She also encouraged Tom and Jordan to practice active listening and to be patient with each other when they don’t understand one another.
At the end of the session, Tom and Jordan had a better understanding of how to communicate and how to be heard. They left the session feeling hopeful that they could build a better relationship and be better partners to one another.