Psych Central

backs(Therapist) “Is there something you want that you feel you can’t ask for?”
(Client) “I want to visit my sister, but my husband won’t let me. It causes a lot of fights.”

(T) “What has to happen first before you can go visit your sister?”
(C)”I have no idea.”

(T) “You haven’t learned how to ask your husband for what you want. It takes practice.”
(C) “My husband says it’s too far, he worries that I might have an accident.”

(T) “Do you take his reasons personally? Do take his reasons at face value?”
(C) “I try to explain that I’ll be careful. I’ve never had an accident.”

(T) “You are trying to make your husband understand as if his reasons were rational and factual, which they are not. They are smoke and mirrors, they are a cover story for the emotional reasons that are deep down beneath the surface. He may not even know them himself. So how can he be convinced and argued out of them. Tell me about your husband.”
(C) “At our wedding, he had a fight with his brother and my father had to break it up. He missed our daughter’s graduation because of too much celebrating with his bowling buddies the night before. We fought for weeks. I’m still angry at him. He has ruined every vacation we ever took with a temper tantrum about some nonsense he wouldn’t let go of.”

(T) “Do you see a pattern in these disasters?”
(C) “No”

(T) “They were all supposed to be happy occasions and he arranged to have them end in disaster.”
(C) “Did he do it on purpose?”

(T) “No Your husband is operating out of his childish beliefs, just as you are operating out of yours. He brings about these disasters because it hurts less if he does it to himself.”
(C) “That doesn’t make any sense.”

(T) “That is why you can’t make him understand the errors of his ways. These are not rational, logical thought processes, these are beliefs that he developed in childhood.”
(C) “Just like me.”

(T) “Just like many of us. Would it make you happy to visit your sister?”
(C) “Yes, I haven’t seen her for three years because of him.”

(T) “His good intention is to prevent the disaster that happens when people are happy. You make him happy. He is afraid that you’ll abandon him and his happiness will end in disaster. This belief is causing him terrible anxiety. His good intention to prevent bad things and have gain control only brings about disaster. He doesn’t know how to solve these problems at all.”
(C)”What can I do?”

(T) “You can choose to stop defending, to stop tying to make him understand your logic. Instead, you can choose to validate his concerns, his doubts, his anxiety. You can say, ‘I don’t blame you for worrying when I’m away. It’s only for a few days and I’ll be fine. I’ll call you every night and you’ll tell me how everybody is doing and I’ll be back home before you know it.’”
(C)”It’s not about me is it?”

(T) “No its about him. He doesn’t even understand what is going on himself. You can’t make him understand the logic because there is no logic. Its about his feeling of fear.”
(C) “So I can validate him, don’t defend validate instead, now I know what to do.”

Angry husband and wife image available from Shutterstock.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: 3 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Karmin, A. (2013). Will Your Happiness End in Disaster?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2014, from



Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner

Recent Comments
  • Jonelle141: I am able to identify with this article. I was raised to please or the disappointment from my mom or dad...
  • mDub: Surely there has to be another option to overcome this than time. What about the middle age men who still act...
  • mDub: Great article. I honestly do just about everything it says you shouldn’t do when someone is angry. It is...
  • Aaron Karmin: Thanks for posting.
  • Aaron Karmin: Hi I’d love to hear more on the concerns you mentioned.
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!