Do I have your attention now?! The quest to get someone to do what they want brings many people into therapy, whether they want the partner, child, friend, client, or parents to stop smoking, be nice, have sex more often, have sex less often, eat more vegetables and fruit, exercise, do homework, respect them, clean the bathroom, or pay more for services.
The unwelcome news I have to tell them is this: you can’t really get people to do what you want, other than your children, and then only up to a certain age. You can bully others into acting like they’re doing what you want, but trust me: they’re sneaking Twinkies and resenting you for making them sneak.
We come not to bury Bill Henrickson, but to praise him, or at least the wonderful HBO series, “Big Love,” in which he was the protagonist. I got HBO when my patients were asking what I thought of Dr. Melfi from “The Sopranos” and her therapeutic approach with sociopathic (duh!) mob boss Tony. And now I’ll be missing Bill, a Utah Mormon who lived in a “plural marriage” with his three wives and many children (I lost count).
A few years ago there was a recurring TV spot aimed at getting kids to be more active, “Verb: It’s what you do!” Many people I see in individual and couples treatment look at love as a noun. It’s something someone gives you—and usually the person isn’t giving you enough!