Bill had said, “I want us to see a marriage counsellor.” Kat had agreed. It made sense to go back to Louise, the counsellor that Kat had spent “Drinks with Vera” time with. She already knew a little of the couple’s background.

So here they both were, in Louise’s office, nervously awaiting the chance to tell their side of the story. Louise asked, “So what brings you both here?”

The words tumbled out from both at the same time. “He’s being unreasonable!” “She’s being unreasonable!”

“Let’s take a step back.” Louise said. “You’ve been married a long time. You must have faced challenges before.” After listening to their stories Louise gave them both some homework. She asked them to each create a timeline of events in their lifetime and then reflect on each of those events and consider the impact on themselves and on their marriage. They promised to return the following week with their homework completed.

Bill took the task seriously. He cleared a corner of the dining table and spent hours there each day, writing and thinking. But to Kat’s dismay, he refused to share any of his thoughts or timeline with her. Kat did her homework on the computer, periodically interrupted by the ding of an email notification altering her to sales and new product launches.

Kat was happy to share her thoughts with Bill, but he hadn’t even asked. If this exercise was supposed to bring them closer together, it sure wasn’t working yet. She pounded the keyboard as the events of her life came to mind.

Kat and Bill marriage on the lineWhen her parents died, she was a good daughter, the only one who really looked after her parents’ things. Her siblings had abandoned her. Bill just complained about having to pay for the storage cage, but he never helped her sort it out. When she’d needed a knee reconstruction, Bill embarrassed her by telling the whole hospital about her stuff. And then he’d gotten rid of her special craft collections while she was helpless to intervene. She was a good wife. She’d tried to make Christmases and Easter special, and he’d just scoffed at her efforts. There was the time she’d given up her career as a teacher to be a good mother. And now that she had a new career at the op shop, Bill was jealous of the time she spent there. The longer she typed, the more resentment she felt. She’d been “too giving” for too long. And it was about time Bill stopped taking her for granted.

The night before they were due to see Louise again, Bill had completed his homework and put it together with his car keys, ready to take to their appointment, before heading to bed. Kat still had some work to do on hers so stayed up late, working at her computer and checking emails. She finally finished, printed it out and added her many pages to those by Bill’s keys.

Curiosity got the better of Kat. She hesitated only a moment before picking up Bill’s document. She’d been patient long enough. She wanted to be prepared for anything.

He’d written about Tiffany’s birth and the hope he’d felt that her arrival would prompt Kat to clear out the guest room so they could have sleepovers with their precious granddaughter. And then he’d written about the sadness he felt that it hadn’t happened and now Tiffany was getting too old for sleepovers. He’d written about Kat’s knee reconstruction, about how she’d tripped on a pile of old magazines that nobody wanted by Kat couldn’t let go of. He wrote about how worried he’d been that one day he would come home to find she’d been buried alive by her stuff. And he wrote about much he resented that the retirement life he’d dreamed they would enjoy together, a simple life of travelling and financial freedom, is no different to the rest of their marriage – all about the stuff.

Kat felt like she had been hit in the stomach. Louise was going to have her work cut out for her saving their marriage. That’s probably why she earned so much. They could have redecorated the entire lounge for what Louise was costing.



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