Ted and Betty—Silent Partners Dr. Carol Ann Conrad, EdD
Empty nesters, Ted and Betty had been married over 30 years. Years of distance, silence and loneliness were manifest in the way they each inhabited different ends of the house. Betty was depressed and lonely; afraid of Ted’s occasional angry outbursts. Ted struggled with depression and physical problems, at times becoming frustrated and lashing out verbally. Both had fairly traumatic childhoods with parents that were angry, distant and hurtful. They had never really known how to communicate well with each other and had struggled for many years in raising their children and providing for the family. Yet, they both expressed a hope that somehow they could come together in a new kind of way.
As we worked to create a safe environment, I helped them hear each other for the first time and share about their sadness, loneliness and hurt. They were surprised to hear that they both felt similarly in the relationship and both really wanted to grow together. In time and through our sessions together, they began to talk about their fears and hurts from childhood and how those hurts were impacting them today; feelings of compassion, understanding and tenderness opened up. Ted realized how his anger was scaring his wife and that he could turn to her with his hurt and fears instead of pushing her away with his anger. Betty became aware how her resentment and withdrawal was actually fueling Ted’s anger and hurt. As they learned in sessions with me how to be open, real and honest with one another, a bond that had never really been there before began to develop. They found love with each other in a new way that they had never experienced in their lifetime.