I’ve had a few couples counseling sessions recently. They all said that when it was just the two of them, it was always a struggle, and it got even more complicated but with Mich, it was much easier, and we were somehow able to talk smoothly and make decisions calmly.

It’s not difficult for a counselor to listen to one side of a story and offer empathy and advice. We only need to empathize with one person’s story. However, for someone like me, who supports both the so-called perpetrator and their partner, I have to listen to each story empathetically and build trust with each of them in order to proceed with the support.

But each story is a completely different story, and most of the time, the story that makes the other person look bad. So, I have to deal with the contradiction of both stories. In these cases, there is a common value in society that we should find out which side is right and say that what is right is right. However, that does not earn the trust of both sides.

So I don’t bring in the values of right and wrong or good and bad. When I let each person tell their story, I ask them to tell their own story and their own feelings. If they start talking about the other person, I ask, “How did you feel about that?” to encourage them to always talk about themselves in the dialogue.

I also ask each person to listen to the other person’s narrative and check how they felt and how their feelings changed. If I feel that the other person is not getting the message correctly, I will try to interpret it or explain it with a metaphor.

As we continue to do this, their mutual understanding seems to improve, and their distrust and anger gradually subsides, and they are able to come to a mutual compromise or an idea that makes sense.

However, for those who are too attached to their partner, or who cover up their own emotions, it is difficult to move forward in the dialogue because they are bound by the consciousness of trying to change the other person instead of focusing on changing themselves. There are such couples from time to time, but it doesn’t mean that there are many such people.

I hope the couple I met the other day will be happy…

Originally posted on February 7, 2021

English text translated with DeepL (Japanese to English) and checked by Mina.

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