Every Couple a Happy Couple!
The Adventures of Dr. Joy Smothers
Once upon a time there was a psychologist named Dr. Joy Smothers. Upon receiving her PhD in Psychology she began carrying out her life's mission: helping couples live "happily ever after." She set up shop and advertised: "Every Couple, A Happy Couple!" Hopeful couples began arriving for counseling.
Mike and Karen
They had been friends for years, but neither had committed to marriage. Karen had told Mike years ago, that she did not believe in sex before marriage. Mike actually did not believe in marriage before sex. And so it was, for all intents and purposes, a stalemate. They both held teaching positions at the same high school. Each day, after work, they generally went home to their own apartments. On the weekends, they went on outings together or out to eat. They also team-coached for the coed volleyball team at the high school. They had become content with the security of being just-friends and coaching comrades. (Although, Karen actually considered Mike her boyfriend and let the staff at school know that he was "taken." Mike flirted with other women once in a while, but remained loyal to Karen.)
Dr. Smothers watched them come in and sit down. She observed the similarity of their appearances, soft blond hair, gentle blue eyes, pale skin, and guessed they were probably soul-mates. Her job? To get them hitched! She listened absent-mindedly as they explained their reasons for coming in... What were they saying? "Our friends don't understand..." Hmm... how could she get them to fall madly in love? She ended the session and told them to return on Tuesday around ten o'clock A.M. She went home and devised many schemes. She wrote down many scenarios, but strangely, each one ended badly as she played it out in her mind. On Tuesday they came in and as she observed their happy faces and familiar chatter, decided then and there that she should leave well enough alone. She proclaimed: I think you two have a good life. I see no problem with your relationship at all.
"But our friends and family don't understand why we...."
"Don't worry about what your friends and family think. You may live and enjoy your lives as you so choose. Good day!"
Mike and Karen looked relieved and gratefully shook Dr. Joy's hand. Joy smiled as she heard the two making plans to order pizza for Thursday night's volleyball game as they walked down the hall.
Susan and Tom
These two were enjoying life in a recently emptied-out nest. The "birds" had finally flown out of the cozy nest in their mid-twenties. After her daughter's wedding, Susan happily turned Althea's room into an art studio and her son's room into a music room for herself. Easels and paints were set up in the art studio and the upright piano and drum set were moved into the music room. Susan was in heaven. So was Tom who puttered around the house fixing things he had never found the time to fix before. He also tended a garden and enjoyed pulling crabgrass, cultivating the most beautiful green lawn on the block. However, they had forgotten how to flirt and be romantic. They slept in separate rooms and thought nothing of it.
But, Althea did think about it and was concerned about her parents apparent lack of love life. She made an appointment for them to see Dr. Joy Smothers. Again, barely listening to this beautiful couple, Dr. Smothers began wracking her brain to find ways to get them to fall deeply in love and into each others arms. But alas, when they came in on Tuesday at ten o'clock A.M., she sensed the easy familiarity they exhibited in interacting with one another. They smiled genuinely. They listened to one another. The respect they had for each other was obvious and Joy heard herself saying, "I think you two have a very fulfilling relationship. Have a good day. I'll tell your daughter everything's fine!" In unison the couple heaved a sigh of relief and walked down the hall... thinking within their own minds what next week had in store for them: Reading that gardening book, for Jeff, and writing that new song, for Susan. Who could she get to play drums?
Dr. Joy listened patiently as Althea, explained, "I am so in love with my husband, but now that we are married, he never does what I want him to. If he loves me, why does he not do as I ask? Dr. Joy pondered her predicament and replied by asking, "Do you do as he asks?"
"Actually, he never asks me to do anything!"
"We will discuss it with him. Come in on Tuesday at ten."
The two came in and Jeff seemed friendly and good natured enough. Joy asked him, "So, does Althea do as you ask, when you need her help or when something needs to be accomplished?"
"I do not ask her."
"Because I do not want her to feel burdened; but she does not give me the same consideration. It annoys me when she bugs me to do something... and then, I do not do as she asks."
Dr. Joy Smothers looked at Althea and said, "You will get along just fine if you respect your husband's wishes... without resentment. (Until he grows up , she thought to herself...)" The couple left arm in arm, planning a luscious night together.
Ann and Jim
Ann and Jim arrived one Tuesday at ten in the morning. Jim was chatting merrily as Ann followed behind. I'll be right out!" called Dr. Joy and she disappeared into another room. She needed to analyze their interactions in the one way window. She remembered Jim's booming voice on the phone saying," My wife has a hearing problem, I just know she does, but the doctors can't find anything wrong with her hearing!"
Joy watched Ann carefully. She saw a gentle face framed by dark curls and noticed luminous blue eyes blinking behind tortoise shell glasses. Sometimes she smiled at Jim as he chatted on, but often she looked out at something in the distance. It seemed to Joy, that Ann was paying attention, but once when Jim asked her a question she could not respond appropriately. At that point she rejoined them carrying a tray of coffee for all. "Now, what seems to be the problem?" Joy asked.
"Well, like I was tellin' ya, Doc, Ann, here, seems to have a hearing problem... we went to the doctor and he told us her hearing is perfectly fine. So, if she can hear me just fine, but is acting like she can't, it hurts my feelings and I get angry."
"So, Ann." Dr. Joy asked carefully, "Are you pretending not to hear?"
"Oh no, in fact I try very hard to pay attention, but after awhile I just start thinking about other things, I guess."
Ah, I see. I need time to work on this problem. You may make an appointment for next Tuesday at ten.
How could she get Ann to listen more? If Ann would pay better attention to Jim, they would live happily ever after! She decided to take the bus to the mall that weekend. She pondered the matter on the bus as it jostled along the busy streets. A lady on the bus, who happened to be named Sossity, began talking merrily to her. She was wearing purple and red, a dreadful sight, and kept chatting on and on... mostly about herself. Joy tried to listen to the woman with every intention of observing her as a case study. But, a realization struck her: Gradually her own thoughts were growing louder and louder, the longer Sossity talked. It dawned on Joy that her own inability to concentrate and loss of focus is what was happening with Ann! It was not that she was deaf, but Ann's own thoughts were eventually drowning out Jim's voice. But, Why? Joy researched the matter and discovered that the average person can only truly listen to someone else for approximately thirty seconds at one time. After that, ones own thoughts will reemerge. In other words, one's own will can only follow another's, for a relatively short time. The solution?
She couldn't wait to tell Jim how to make his marriage happy! Tuesday rolled around and so did Jim and Ann promptly at ten A.M. Dr. Joy took a deep breath...
"Jim, you must not talk so much to your wife! She loves you but she needs time to listen to her own thoughts. We all have the ability to listen to others, but only for a short time. This is because we tend to stay in touch with our own thinking and thought processes. I'm sorry, but you are actually thinking out loud and over talking... So, while it is fun for you, it is not for her."
"Im Just tryin' to have a little conversation!"
"A true conversation requires allowing the other person to express their thoughts and opinions. A true conversation considers the interests of the other person and gives the other person the opportunity to express themselves. Try to let her have a turn to speak after about 30 seconds of talking. It also might be possible that she needs more time for her own thoughts, in general."
"Oh, I see!" he said rubbing his hand on his chin. Then he actually apologized to Ann! He gave her a kiss, held her hand and waved goodbye to Dr. Joy. Her eyes followed them as they walked hand in hand down a quiet hall. "Happily ever after..." she murmurred to herself... The phone rang and she repeated her slogan confidently , "Every couple, a happy couple! Brad and Angelina?, I'll schedule you in for Tuesday at Ten A.M. sharp!"