Bob was a 45 year-old financial analyst whose wife recently divorced him to be with another man. It was a difficult separation. They shared custody of their two children. She continued to call him, however, with demands and outbursts unrelated to the children, but that were depressing and exhausting for him. Continually going back to his lawyer for help wasn’t always appropriate, and was becoming financially prohibitive. Yet he seemed unable to set limits on his ex-wife’s difficult behavior.
Bob never got much attention when growing up, and never really felt part of his family. He wouldn’t make waves, for fear of being more marginalized than he already was. In the present situation, he was afraid of drawing a firm line with his ex-wife. We started to coach him on coping and strategizing techniques, while dealing with the resultant feelings. With coaching, he learned what made his ex-wife tick, what set her off, and what he could anticipate. He learned how to set a limit, but give something else in its place. Most importantly, he learned what his options were when she wasn’t responding appropriately. With regained control, his strength and confidence also returned.