16 thoughts on “A view of marriage counseling

  1. Santa Traugott

    Yes, it does apply very nicely to our couple, particularly the part about “last straw” bringing them to the table, and also, the notion of shutting down — although here I think that one of the reasons for Martin’s shut-down, was his inability to figure out how to raise certain issues with Louisa without triggering an anxiety provoking reaction from her.

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Santa, I’d love to learn more about what you mean when you say L would have an anxiety provoking reaction if confronted with certain issues. Do you mean her own insecurities would be triggered? To me he seems to have shut down due to the recurrence of his phobia along with the reappearance of his mother added onto the reduction in his quiet time. It’s hard for me to grasp how M could have been so capable of living with L and the baby, even with the baby keeping them up at night, but then become so overwhelmed once they marry. That has always been a conundrum to me and one of the reasons why I think the writers went too far with S6. The almost immediate shut down by M is possible, I guess, but is it probable? That’s another one of those questions that really shouldn’t be asked. They wrote it that way, and whether we find it logical or understandable doesn’t matter. They chose to take that direction and we’re at the receiving end and forced to accept it. L also has to accept it within the context of her circumstances. While M has never been one to talk things out, he was more open to discussing a few concerns before, e.g. L’s mother, the baby’s name, childcare. S6E1 had them talking about the honeymoon, how to get out of the wood, how to handle the makeshift operation. Now, L gets nothing out of him. It’s kind of sudden and should make her wonder, no?

  3. carol avery

    Look at what happened to Martin – and all in about 6 months time – birth of son, death of father, confrontation w/ mother, death of Auntie Joan, marriage and life w/ L and JH, and he turned down the return to surgery. Phew! No wonder his hemaphobia returned, quite frankly. I am hoping that the writers will have love win and carry the day, in the end, for our DM…. and that by learning to love L — and himself a bit — all will end well for them (and I see baby #2 coming)

    I think it was brilliant how S6 took this dark inward turn just as the real-life MC was losing weight from being sick and looking, quite frankly, haggard and old….

  4. Santa Traugott

    I realized that my wording was not very clear. I meant that to some degree, Martin might have chosen to stifle any issues he might have had with Louisa, because her reaction — anger and/or rejection — would have been even more anxiety provoking to HIM. If he, at bottom, thinks he doesn’t deserve her, how much can he risk rejection by criticizing her? We have seen him blow up at her, though, but I do wonder how much he was actually suppressing of unhappiness about the unwonted chaos in his house, etc., etc.

    I think that being married is somewhat different to cohabiting. After the honeymoon period is over, the full weight of this commitment settles in. The romance and anticipation have faded to a degree, and now you’re committed to this person and a lifestyle, with both of which you have some non-trivial incompatibilities. And you don’t have the emotional wherewithal, or the communication skills, to sort this out, so you just retreat. I believe that’s what we’re meant to understand about what happened to Martin.

    That’s what I can come up with anyway. Otherwise, it’s pretty mysterious to me. I do think we’re supposed to come up, in our own minds, with some sort of plausible narrative about what happened, because otherwise, it’s feels just inexplicable and arbitrary (which some feel, I gather, about S6, anyway). Inexplicable and arbitrary doesn’t make for a satisfying narrative.

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You’re right that the baby’s birth closely followed by AJ’s death was quite a shock, but the rest of S5 didn’t have M shutting down. His phobia returns in S6E3 before he sees his mother again and learns of his father’s death. It’s true that they probably wrote in so many troubling events as a way to explain the weight loss/illness MC had, but I feel certain they would have been able to come up with scenarios that might have been less dark. They made the decision to take the show down that gloomy path and now I’m sure they can find a way to bring back the humor, and the love! I mean, it’s a shame that after so many years of yearning to be with Louisa, Martin is struggling to enjoy it.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I get what you’re saying now. I agree that he wouldn’t want to risk rejection, although in the end he does exactly what he was possibly trying to avoid. AR seems to think he was subconsciously deliberately putting himself in this predicament.

    I suppose it makes sense that they’re asking us to find our own explanations. I did argue that the show is good because it makes us think! It’s still hard for me to come up with a satisfying explanation beyond simply deciding to stretch the actors and trying a different direction to mix things up a bit.

  7. Santa Traugott

    To the extent that S6 was not as successful or satisfying as previous seasons, I think that the failure to tell, or just show, a convincing story about why Martin fell apart, is the reason. In the end, we just have conjectures, including the one that they just did it b/c a happy marriage isn’t a very compelling story line (to them) and that drama requires conflict of some kind. So they made it up. Even Aunt Ruth’s diagnosis — that he shut down because he didn’t think he deserved Louisa — doesn’t really stand up under close scrutiny, I don’t think.

    But, looking at it logically, how realistic is it that these two flawed people, drawn to each other despite gaping incompatibilities, and hampered by extreme communication difficulties, plus all the stresses that an infant brings to any marriage, could really make a go of it without going through some rough, perhaps very rough, patches? I think in the end, that’s the conclusion I come to.

  8. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I think you’re right about the key problem with S6 being no coherent narrative that holds together to explain the significant deterioration in M. I also see how there are many hurdles for them as a couple. Those have been there all along and I still see the attraction as plausible, even unsurprising. My biggest “huh?” moment comes after E2 because the first two episodes are consistent with the previous years and then we get the weird stalker episode accompanied by the return of the blood phobia, but this time it’s so upsetting to M that he shuts down. I guess that’s it. We’re supposed to believe that the return of the phobia causes M to be a different person. It changes him, but not the way anyone was expecting or hoping for. Instead of M trying to find a way to be more social, he turns inward. L can’t break through either and things go downhill fast, very fast.

  9. Mary

    It is indeed a dark path they have taken ME down…it seems bewildering why he is suffering so much now that he has married the woman of his dreams. A lot has happened to ME in a relatively short period, so perhaps thats how the writers explain his apparent shutdown. But I find it hard to believe that he would feel so uncomfortable opening up to Louisa within the privacy of their home. Even if he doesn’t feel he deserves her, would there still be so little affection between them? Especially since we know he has been completely infatuated with her for years? I love the old saying “One cannot long hide love where it exists, nor long feign it where it does not.” We are forced to “suspend our disbelief” a tad much (though that hasn’t kept me from being glued to my seat!). Counseling should help. Their marriage is young and though they are skating on thin ice, they still love each other enough to work out their issues, unlike many long married couples whose relationships have sadly entered permafrost.

  10. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Yours is the only conclusion we can come to. We just have to wait for next series and hope they resume the marriage with a very different approach. But don’t give up on marriage counseling even for those who have been married a long time. Like the article says, “marriage counseling is not so different from other measures people take to maintain health and keep their lives running smoothly.” All married couples can benefit from it on occasion.

  11. Linda

    I agree that he shut down awfully fast. They were so much in love when they became engaged so why did it all go wrong once they married? They grew apart much too quickly considering they both say they love each other.

  12. Linda

    Yes, I agree that it was important to deal with Martin Clune’s illness and weight loss. He really looked haggard and much older, I thought.

  13. Linda

    I think the writers will have a real challenge in Series 7. Martin HAS to change and be able to talk to Louisa about EVERYTHING that is troubling him and to LISTEN to what is troubling her and respect what she says. He HAS to learn to communicate with her about important issues and to share with her his fears and problems. He is bereft of these skills now because of his upbringing but he is smart guy and I think he’ll figure it out. I think they will seek help from Ruth and other professionals. Louisa wants to be a full partner in their life but he is continuing to make decisions and keep things from her – driving her away time and time again. I think you are right, Karen, that he is doing things subconsciously putting himself to avoid rejection because he does not believe that anyone could love him and he does not deserve Louisa. As you say, he ends up pushing her away even though he loves her. Thankfully, he does recognize that he loves her and wants to be with her. Ruth was so good with him and I think he got her message. I think Louisa would do most anything for him, if he lets her in. She loves him too but she can’t keep being pushed away over and over. She has needs and dreams for herself too and he needs to repect that. I think the writers will need to bring them to a place where they can be a fully committed husband and wife who are happy and who can show James what a happy family is. I am undecided about whether the series 7 should end with them moving to London. He certainly wants to go back to being a surgeon but I wonder if he will come to the conclusion that the people of Portwenn are equally deserving of his immense skills. In fact, he can do more for people there than he can in London. Perhaps, it will end up with him finding a way to do surgery closer to home so they can stay in Portwenn. I feel equally for them both and sincerely hope they can resolve their differences.

  14. Linda

    Mary, I agree! They were so happy in the time they were engaged. He seemed to mellow and seemed to be really into her. They were intimate, and seemed able to talk to each other. They were quite tender in fact. I cannot figure out how they could call of the wedding without a great deal more discussion either before or after. It was really sad. I wonder if they regretted calling off the wedding in the weeks that ensued. Louisa bolted of course but did each think the other was finished? They were still professing love for one another even as they called off the wedding! This storyline was not well developed.

  15. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    In my opinion the only way they could ever move to London is if that’s the way they decide to end the show. Even then it would be unlikely because the show is set in Portwenn and each time they make a move to leave, something brings them back or keeps them in Portwenn. The one thing I’ve been thinking is that Louisa needs to express her love for Martin again. There are only two times I can remember that she tells him she loves him. The first is after they had some wine together and he professed love for her. The next day she comes by to help with his hangover and to tell him she loves him too. He then accuses her of erotomania. The other time is when she’s decided not to marry at the end of S3. She hands him the note she’s written and tells him it says that she loves him, and she really does, but he wouldn’t make her happy. We keep talking about his lack of emotional expression, and he certainly was detached throughout S6, but she could be more open about her feelings for him too.

  16. Amy

    Interesting to read this one after the exchange Santa and I had earlier on the post about Louisa’s attitude in S6 E3. As I am now rewatching S6, I am finding that I don’t see Martin’s shutdown as rapid and complete as many of the commenters here found it. He withdraws by not telling L what he is experiencing, but he still interacts with her, with Mike, with Ruth, and with JH.

    E4 has him taking JH to Minnie’s annoying story hour. He does not seem depressed, just preoccupied. His insomnia really doesn’t start until E5, but even then he comes to talk to L about Mrs T and asks her to come to bed. He talks to Ruth about seeing a psychiatrist and opens up to L, telling her what is going on. Then they get interrupted. But I wouldn’t say that he was yet depressed, just concerned. Let’s face it—he never was the kind of guy who was open about his feelings, so is he really that different in S6 through at least the first five episodes?

    So maybe his real downturn happens when his mother arrives in S6. And boy, she could make anyone depressed.

    I just don’t think it had to do with the noisy, crowded house. I think it had to do with the blood phobia’s return, and as Santa and I were talking about on the other post, maybe that happened as he started to worry that he wasn’t making Louisa happy since she’s the one complaining and nagging—about his anti-social behavior, about his attitude towards JH’s toys, about antagonizing Mel and hiring Mike, about being reluctant to go the library hour, about his attempts to “help” in the kitchen.

    If the blood phobia is triggered by his fear of disappointing others, then having his mother appear—the one who more than anyone else made him feel like a failure—certainly would have precipitated a rapid decline into depression.

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