This is the letter Terry sent me during our period of separation.

Dear Chris,

After thinking for such a long time about the current situation between us, something bothered me. Although I had a general feeling that something was inherently wrong with the whole thing, neither could I formalize my gut feelings into cohesive thoughts nor place my feelings into words. However, I was certain that my gut feelings were correct. I sought the advice of my friend who has been a therapist for many years regarding my concerns. I explained to him the situation between us and the events leading up to it. I further told him about the therapy sessions with Mary.

His reaction surprised me and relieved me. First, he confirmed that something was indeed wrong with the situation. His clear insight and his ability to voice my feelings and thoughts into sensible words were the things that surprised me. He expressed concern that we were not under the care of someone who behaved professionally. And, because of Mary's behavior, you and I are currently at odds with one another. I should add that he did not take either your or my side, and he did not pass judgement on either one of us. His sole worry, however, was how the both of us were torn apart by someone else's decisions.

I hope to accurately convey his words and reasoning to you. In doing so, I hope that you can understand what is happening between us. My friend basically had three complaints about Mary. First her decision to make us not communicate for two weeks was a drastic error which now places our relationship in peril. Rather than taking the opportunity to grasp an issue which we both had with one another at that moment and force us to work with that issue, Mary threw the door closed on both of us. She, in effect, denied our chance to fully discuss what was bothering us and aid us in comprehending one another's feelings behind our words and actions. Now we see each other as adversaries. Second, Mary should not have seen you alone last Sunday. It is my friend's opinion that Mary placed herself in a position where she allowed you to manipulate her. His reasoning for this is that Mary was not your primary therapist; she is our therapist and she should not have permitted you to see her without my being there. On these two points my friend was adamant that Mary behaved unprofessionally. My friend was appalled that such things occurred and unfortunately they negatively affected our relationship. I agree with my friend.

The third concern my friend voiced was the manner with which Mary conducted the sessions themselves. Here again he became appalled. He felt that Mary placed herself between us, faced each of us as a judge in court listening to the prosecutor's and defense's arguments, and made us make compromises which she saw fit. My friend explained that a couple therapist should never be a judge. The appropriate technique used in couple therapy is the "mirroring" technique: One person begins by stating an issue. The next person restates that issue to the first, letting the first person know that she heard and understood the first person's issue. After restating the first person's issue, the second person then will state an issue which she has. The first person then "mirrors" the second person's issue and states another issue that she has. The process continues back and forth. Never during this time as the couple are presenting their issues and mirroring their partner's issues does the therapist interject, form opinions, judge who is more right or more wrong. The role of the therapist is to facilitate each partner's understanding of one another. "In couple therapy there should be a progression of appreciation and understanding for one another." My friend spoke these wise words. He knew from my reaction when I heard his words that you and I did not experience this progression. Instead, we were judged by an outsider who should have remained neutral, and this judgemental behavior caused us to judge on another. A vicious cycle began.

Only after discussing the confused feelings I had with my friend did I learn that both of us were not working under optimal conditions in addressing our issues and comprehending our feelings in the relationship. The less-than-adequate conditions forced us to be defensive, to neglect each of our roles in the success or failure of the relationship and to point the finger of blame. We both have faults, but we are also extremely good people. Let us recognize and accept what happened, and learn from this experience.


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