I met Sheila through a colleague who was not achieving results in treating her for depression. Depression is often a direct result of stress.
Sheila and Frank had been in a cohabitative relationship for twenty years. She’s an artist and he’s a consummate entrepreneur who only knew how to be successful. Sheila had managed to just get by and wouldn’t have been able to do that if it hadn’t been for John’s generosity in covering the majority of the household expenses.
John would often berate Sheila for not being more successful because she is extraordinarily talented artistically. He could not accept her inability to earn as much as he was able to produce.
Occasionally his “go to” method of dealing with his frustration was to threaten to make her leave “his” house. Even though they had been living together for twenty years, the house was in his name only.
After twenty years of the stress of this scenario, Sheila managed to find herself in a deep depression and therapy was not making a dent in her condition.
The first time we met, I insisted on meeting with John at the same time. Once I understood their relationship patterns I suggested that John get up on Saturday and take one of Sheila’s canvases and create a painting we could sell the next week.
“I’m not an artist!” he declared.
“And Sheila is not a business woman in the same way you are a business man.” I calmly pointed out to him.
I could truly see the light dawn on his face. He expected Sheila to be like him without out ever considering he was not like her.
We worked for three months to break Sheila’s emotional reactions to John’s less than but still present judgment.
Eventually I suggested Sheila move back home to her family and concentrate on developing better business skills. What surprise me was as Sheila’s depression lessoned she became strong enough to move across the country and anticipate her relationship with John was over.
But six months after she moved to her own home John asked if he could visit her. At the end of the visit he asked her to marry him. They have now been married for three years and still have their difficult moments, but it never gets to the point it had before our NESTing sessions.