Monday, June 15, 2020

Microstory 1386: Marriage Counseling

Marriage Counselor: Welcome, you both, to marriage counseling. Before we begin, it’s important that you understand that this is a safe space. There will be no judgments here; not from me, and not from either of you. This is not just a guideline, but a rule, and I will be enforcing it strictly.
Husband: I understand, and agree to your terms.
Wife: As do I.
Marriage Counselor: So, what seems to be the problem?
Wife: I cheated on him, and he doesn’t care.
Marriage Counselor: Is that true, Mr. Husband?
Husband: I suppose it is, yes. I would love to say that I simply didn’t react the way she would have wanted, but I see where she’s coming from, and I honestly can’t explain it.
Marriage Counselor: Walk me through it. What happened, and how did Husband react? Mrs. Wife, you go first.
Wife: I’ve been feeling a little neglected, and spending a lot of time on my own. I didn’t go out seeking a second partner, but I often found myself at the rec center, even when I didn’t have a fitness class to get to. I met this woman there who’s kind of going through the same thing with her girlfriend. At first, we were just talking, but then things escalated. It just so happened that Husband walked in on us during the one time it went too far.
Marriage Counselor: Let’s switch perspectives before you proceed. What were you doing that led up to this, Mr. Husband?
Husband: I’ve been pretty busy at work, but that’s not the whole story. I could get it all done on time, but I’ve slowly lost the motivation to do so. The work is overwhelming, and it’s also total nonsense. I used to get really frustrated about it, but now I’m just indifferent. It’s not like the work slows down just because I don’t do it with so much haste, so it builds up even more, and I end up having to stay late just to catch up. One day, I finally just said screw it, and left for home at the time I’m supposed to. Like she said, I walked in on her.
Marriage Counselor: How did you react?
Husband: I barely did at all. My first instinct was that I was pissed; not that I was actually anger, but that I ought to be. As I stood there, looking at them in our marital bed, though, I realized it didn’t bother me. I felt like, if that’s what she wants, she should have it, because I obviously can’t provide for her.
Marriage Counselor: Did it excite you, or just not bother you?
Husband: I felt nothing. I feel nothing. I’m completely numb. I don’t feel joy or jealousy anymore, or anything else, for that matter. I don’t know why, and I don’t want to be like this. I wish I had gotten angry at her, because then we could have worked through it. But she’s just sitting here in this marriage, and neither of us is happy, but she’s the only one who’s trying anymore. I think I might have become a sociopath.
Wife: I don’t think that.
Marriage Counselor: Me neither. You would not have become a sociopath, Mr. Husband. It’s something you’re born with, or possibly develop at a very early age. And even if you hadn’t realized what you were until now, just from my first impression of you, I doubt it would be a good diagnosis. You obviously still care about her, if only in a lesser sense than you used to. Sociopaths aren’t capable of even that. You seem to be having trouble manifesting emotions, but I don’t think they’re not there at all. Are you taking any medication?
Wife: He’s not taking anything.
Marriage Counselor: Well, he’s mimicking some of the symptoms of certain antidepressants, so if it’s not that, then there’s some other imbalance in the brain. Mr. Husband, you mentioned your work. I believe that may be at the heart of what’s causing all this. Let’s dive deeper into that.
Husband: Okay.

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