So many stories that a counselor hears are painful,
hurtful stories. They are filled with trauma, grief, loss, abuse, hopelessness,
and helplessness. Most families and couples will go through times when they
treat each other like the enemy instead of a best friend. But every once in a
while there is a story that will make you smile and realize how goofy life can
So this story is about one couple and their
experience of an assignment given by their therapist. This is a young couple
who had been married just a few years. They were both in the military and he
had just come back from a year of deployment. In the military after deployment
a married couple is required to see a counselor at least one time to help with
bringing them back together or make sure there aren’t any major problems or
reasons they cannot re-connect.
He was sitting on one side of the couch and she was
on the other. The therapist who specialized in marriage and family counseling
asked if they were always distant when they were with each other. He told her
he was just tired. After the counselor asked a few more questions and got more information
from them she gave them an assignment.
The counselor pulled out a bag of buttons. There
were blue buttons and white buttons. The blue buttons were for him and she got
the white buttons. There were big and small buttons in each bag of blue and
white buttons. The big buttons were to give to one another if something good
happened. For instance, maybe she cleaned a stain off of his favorite shirt and
so he would give her a big button. The small buttons were to give out if there
was something that happened one of them did not like. Both agreed to try this out
over the next week and they went home.
The next day they were home and she noticed that he
had not taken the trash out and it was overflowing so she handed him a small
button. Now, he was a little taken back by this and started looking around the
room and found something that she did that he didn’t like so he also handed her
a small button. She once again decided that she didn’t like something else he
had done and gave him another small button. He immediately got defensive and
grabbed a few buttons just to get back at her. So she immediately grabbed a
handful of buttons and threw at him. This turned into a bit of a button war and
they ended up with blue and white large and small buttons all over the house.
They went back to the counselor the next week and
started talking about the button exercise and the counselor looked at both of
them and simply told them that she could not help them. This was 10 years ago
and they are still married today. They laugh about the button assignment today
and remember vacuuming and finding buttons around the house for several months
after the button fight.
There is no moral to this story there is no great “aha”
to be had from this story. It is just life and it is relationships. You can’t
take life too seriously and learning to laugh can be the best medicine for any
relationship. All relationships are hard and they are good. Just learn to enjoy
the smallest of moments.