Trust is not always what we expect it to be. John and Sarah are the perfect example. John was one of my partner’s business clients and Sarah was happy to work part-time in John’s company. That is, until about two years ago when the couple fell into a curious crisis. From one day to the next Sarah seemed to be unhappy with everything John was doing. Money became a permanent issue and – yes – there was suddenly also this other issue.
Right from the beginning I had the funny feeling that someone in the room had a very guilty conscience. I am afraid to say John had the same feeling, and it took us three quite a while to channel all the shouting and crying. The ‘You are driving me crazy.’ and the ‘You do not listen to me!’ were running high – too high for my liking.
Don’t get me wrong. One of the key – ingredients of a good relationship is to know how to have a healthy fight. Issues must be addressed before they poison the togetherness. A well practised couple will fight with each other until emotions reach a dangerous level. The following ‘one is running out of the scene’ is vital to ensure that no one gets hurt. After some cooling – down – time they can come together and hopefully solve the problem in a simple conversation.
Unfortunately our case was different. The real issue had not been addressed and the same fight would have started over and over again until – one day – one of them would have toed the line. This is one of the most dangerous moments in the life of a counsellor. It was my job to ensure that both can get over the peak without emotionally destroying each other. Only then they can address the true problem and the situation can be solved for good – at least according to theory. Like a cat on a hot tin roof I was trying to persuade Sarah to stay and at the same time signalling to John to keep calm and give his wife free rein. Guardedly, Sarah was coming back to her chair. John and I had no idea what was to be coming next. Sarah took a deep breath: ‘I am pregnant, and the baby is not yours.’
Over the last 20 years I have made the experience that many people believe a counsellor knows and understands everything in advance. That is totally wrong. At this moment I just knew one thing for sure. Within the next twenty seconds this marriage was going to change completely – for the better or the worse. It was John’s reaction that showed me how strong their relationship really was. After a moment of total surprise on his face he started to laugh and it was now my turn to look rather sheepishly.
‘Are you OK?’
‘Sure I am OK, but.’
‘What? We were working on a baby, didn’t we?’
Sarah silently looked at John and then it dawned even on me.
Turned out that Sarah and John had been trying to have a baby for over three years. The stress was building up and destroying their good relationship so they decided to stop, but they could not forget. In January Sarah went on a skiing-holiday in Italy with her friend Carol. It was there that she decided to make a last, desperate attempt. A young and … well, whatever.
Conventional solutions will always lead us on conventional paths: when you can not have a baby, you have to give up a dream – that is how it is. You look for extraordinary solutions and you will have an extraordinary life. But it needs a crucial ingredient: Trust in each other. Little Tanja is now over a year old and Daddy never lets her out of his sight. And Sarah is pregnant again – with John’s baby. Well, no surprise there.