Let’s all say it together, “ Necessity is the mother of invention”!
It was nine o’clock on Tuesday morning during my first appointment of the day. I was still savoring every grain of caffeine from my wake up cup as I began to process with my client how they had managed through their last weeks as a couple. It was refreshing to see them be so playful in entering into my office. Humor is without a doubt a great tonic for life as well as marriage.
When I asked them how they had managed in accomplishing some of the tasks they agreed upon the last session, they both broke into a smile. It was then that this fine young mother expressed with a mischievous look “ I think I have discovered a new invention”. “Oh really” I replied, “pertaining to what”?
“Well, do you know how I wanted to learn to manage my spiking emotions of hurt and anger when Joe ignores me or disappoints me?” “Yes”. “Well, I have found what I can do to keep from spewing emotional debris all over the family.”
I sat on the edge of my chair waiting to hear how she used some of what I had taught them about ‘cognitive behavioural techniques’ of ‘thought stopping’ or perhaps the ‘deep diaphragmatic relaxation techniques’ on my CD, or perhaps it was the spiritual exercise of praying and meditating that was the secret to her success. However nothing would have led me to imagine of her simple but effective technique.
With the broadest grin she explained, “when I am really angry, I simply go upstairs and place on my teeth, two whitening strips and then I cannot speak anymore for thirty minutes.” Of course we all just began to laugh hysterically.
Joe piped in, “ and then I say to her when I need to talk you don’t want to talk!” Of course, he was being mischievous because Joe is a very quiet and passive emotional. Again, we laughed as we all understood his joke about himself.
Although this was humorous they were also serious. Sometimes it is better to not say a word. A biblical proverb reminds us; “ In the multitude of words, sin is often present”.
What I observed that day was a couple that had significantly shifted from being hurt, angry and defensive to being playful, non-judgmental yet creative.
As I sat back in my chair to catch my breathe I thought, this couple is going to do just fine.