While our counselor was female and I did have individual sessions with her, we always played, ahem, talked inside and never, ever, poured beverages over each other. We both had our professional standards.

Let’s see what marriage counseling did for Lorna and Chuck…

I had a Master’s Degree in counseling, so I knew about what we were facing. For a fee, Counselor asks Troubled Couple vague yet probing questions and assesses Relationship Dynamic based on who answers and Body Language rather than Actual Answer. After several sessions together, Troubled Couple sees Counselor individually to identify each party’s perspective about what’s wrong with their spouse relationship and helps each party feel anything empathy for the other. This process varies in length and success. Finally, Counselor sees Hopefully-Not-As-Troubled Couple together and they collectively decide if they want to save the marriage or skedaddle.

Pick a color, any color. Oh. That's not how we're supposed to make this decision.

Counselor immediately saw that our Relationship Dynamic was a typical one: Father-Child. Individually, we were both responsible for our Couples-Troubles. That newsflash from an objective third-party was like me seeing piled-high presents on Christmas morning. I wasn’t the only couples-trouble-maker! Yes, I secretly longed for another man and even contacted him; and yes, I had allowed myself to be a child in this relationship. BUT, Chuck chose to ignore me when I begged for his attention AND he violated my trust by reading my private journal. If our marriage was going to work, we had to:

  1. be adults, not Father and Child
  2. communicate often about issues in a nonjudgmental way
  3. forgive ourselves and each other
  4. move forward with a clean slate (no bringing up past transgressions and no HC contact)

We agreed that we could do that. We would do that.

For about a month we did that. Then the “he” part of “we” stopped being so “we-ish.”

People in AA talk about “the Dry Drunk.” This person isn’t drinking but is one wretched son-of-a-hoo-ha and enjoys spreading the misery. That’s who Chuck became. He’d say mean-spirited things about me, grunted was abrupt in his responses to my conversational questions, and criticized me in public. When I tried to talk to him about it, like Counselor instructed, he told me I was imagining things.

I redoubled my efforts to be kind and thoughtful. One thing that stuck with me from marriage counseling was that we often treat house guests better than we treat our own spouses. I made sure I treated Chuck at least as well as any house guest. Nothing seemed to put a dent in his “funk.”

Nothing? Really? Well, I'm glad I can make such delicious coffee for you, Honey. Anything else I can tempt you with, Chuck? Wink, wink.

After about six months of being treated like a back-stabbing wench the enemy a back-stabbing wench, I decided it was time for my own ultimatum. I reminded him of  Counselor’s Instructions and said, “I sense you’re hanging on to your pain and acting like I’m still victimizing you. I’m not. If you’re choosing to hold on to pain from the past, it’s because it’s serving you. If it wasn’t, you’d let it go. Make a choice: hang on to the pain or let go of it. If you choose to hang on, though, you’ll be doing it alone because I refuse to be treated like this anymore.” I learned something from all that Divine Reading.

Bet you didn't see that coming, did you? Chuck didn't.

I had no idea what would happen next, but I didn’t care either. Something had to change. He took his time, but decided that he needed to let go of the past like he promised in front of Counselor.

Our relationship improved again. We took swing-dance lessons and went on more “business trips” to great destinations. We even bought a little piece of Nirvana in the form of lake-front property that I thought would be the site of our retirement home—a new, finished “unbroken” home.

Don't talk to me about getting anything up until they invent a hydraulic lift for these tubs to get my aching body out of this cast- iron sarcophagus...Sweetheart.

We didn’t need anything to cement our relationship or complicate our lives, but we got both on one otherwise unremarkable day: 11/9/2001.

I was in a morning  meeting at the college and the room started spinning. I didn’t think too much of this, because college meetings have a way of messing with one’s head. But this was different. I went to the Infirmary to have my blood pressure checked. It was low, but normal for me, being an avid jogger and all around healthy person (except for 7 miscarriages, migraines and other “m” maladies). All day, the dizziness affected my ability to navigate and think. Since it was Friday, I had to wait until Monday to see my doctor. I was given motion-sickness pills. They were useless. By Wednesday, I was having trouble watching TV—the quick motion on the screen made me feel like I was falling over or the top of my head was lifting off. We went to the ER, thinking I was having a stroke.

After the requisite 8 hours of waiting, several blood tests, other diagnostics, and a CT-scan, I was released with no diagnosis for the dizziness, but the delightful new information that I had a tumor in my left frontal lobe. They told me to consult a neurologist. I thought a mortician was a better place to start.

No, not Morticia Addams, a mortician. Do you see how this dizziness affects the brain?

So begins an odyssey that would take Lorna and Chuck to places they never imagined…