DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I was sleeping on my verandah on a hot night recently when I heard a knock on the screen door. It was my neighbour's wife, who had been out smoking on the second-floor balcony of her house because she couldn't sleep. She saw me down in the bed on the verandah and I guess I was pretty naked, and I do work out. She said she just couldn't help herself. She stayed with me for a few hours and one thing led to another and then she went back to her house -- and her husband. Now I am sleeping on the verandah every night hoping she'll come back and it's like she disappeared into thin air. Now what?
-- Waiting For Her Return, Wolseley
Dear Waiting: She's obviously got a case of the guilts and is doing the only thing she can ---- exit to the back of the house and try not to run into you. Try to relish those few stolen hours as a magical memory and not see it as anything but an unexpected gift. If you continued meeting there, and the husband caught you, your next gift could arrive in the form of a baseball bat.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Often I see you advise a person to attend therapy individually and then have their partner join them. This is contrary to effective couple therapy. It is absolutely essential that the therapist be seen by both partners to be fair and impartial. If one partner goes in first, the other will perceive that the therapist is taking sides. This will increase the partner's resistance to going, and decrease their engagement in the process if they do go. Indeed there is a risk that the therapist will be unduly influenced by having heard one side first, and therapy is sabotaged from the beginning. Better advice would be for the distressed partner to see a therapist other than the one they will see as a couple. Or, many couple therapists will combine couple sessions with individual ones but always starting the process by seeing both partners together balancing individual sessions so each partner gets equal time, and also having a "no secrets" rule as regards individual sessions.
-- Family Therapist, Winnipeg
Dear Therapist: What you say certainly has merit but there are times when the half of the couple who's really motivated to go for counselling, gets zero co-operation from the mate. It's still helpful for the motivated one to start going in for sessions alone. If the person staying home sees positive changes, curiosity is sometimes aroused enough to go in for "just one session." Often, the unwilling partner likes the counsellor, and ends up willing to come for the rest of the sessions to do real couples counselling. Having gained the trust of that reluctant person, it makes no sense to ship the two of them off to start all over again with an unknown counsellor. As for counsellors taking sides, a good counsellor should be listening to both sides, and be glad to hear the second part of the story. Taking sides should not be an issue, though counsellors are human and that can sometimes happen, especially where abuse is involved.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org