Flash: Marriage Therapy Session 9 (Short Version)

Greta stared at her patients for three minutes, watching the clock tucked behind a fern click away the seconds. Unlike most couples, neither of the Donnellys had a problem with the quiet. Wyatt knew how to use silence as a weapon during contract negotiations, and Liza … well Liza was happy for time to get lost in her own thoughts now the counseling had extracted the pain buried in her mind. Greta knew the lack of conversation affected Wyatt, and he tended to be the person which needed to be reduced in power.

“Okay, I just wanted you to know I believe we have been making real progress.” Greta smiled with assurance. “Today’s session, I thought we would work on removing barriers.”

“Has Liza complained about barriers?” Wyatt glanced at his wife, the movement of his head changing the balance on the sofa just enough to start tilting him towards Liza. He quickly corrected to the rigid posture.

Along with nine sessions as a couple, Greta had been supplementing with one-on-one visits. Liza never asked about Wyatt’s sessions, but Wyatt was always trying to find out about Liza’s sessions.

“No, Wyatt,” Greta corrected, “you have been complaining about barriers.”

“I have done no such thing.” Greta’s smile widened, and Wyatt hastily went on to add, realizing how often the expert he was paying for had proven him wrong on his motivations. “Have I?”

“You tell me after we do an exercise to break the ice.”

The couple relaxed infinitesimally. The clinical psychologist often started sessions with an exercise. Greta mirrored the startup activity by ending the sessions assigning homework. Greta knew the couple was relaxing because they started tilting together. The sofa was one of the best tools in her marriage counseling arsenal. Wyatt corrected his posture first, Liza didn’t correct until Wyatt’s repositioning nearly toppled her into him.

“Wyatt, please stand.”

Wyatt stood to one side of the sofa.

“Now I want you to remove all your clothing except your underwear.”

Wyatt grew flustered. “What, why?”

“We are removing barriers, remember. Clothing is ultimately a barrier.” Greta paused a moment, giving the couple time to process the explanation. “Pretend I am not in the room, and remove your clothing for your wife. You want your marriage to work, do this to represent removing a barrier, one at a time.”

Wyatt turned so he could no longer see the doctor. Facing his wife, staring at her face, he slowly removed the cufflinks and tossed them on the coffee table. He loosened his tie and buttoned his vest and black tuxedo shirt. His outfit screamed money from its fine fabric to the personal tailoring.

Greta arranged her face into clinical detachment as the man slowed his motions. Liza’s eyes never darted to where Greta sat, instead Liza’s pupils darkened and her face flushed. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips when Wyatt unzipped his trousers.

Most people would not admit it, but everyone had a little exhibitionist in them. They liked to look good and be successful and have other people see them look good and be successful, whether working, swimming, or having sex. Having Greta in the room turned the Donnellys on, changed the dynamics of their damaged relationship. They were doing something different and remembering the initial attraction because someone else in the room made them see things differently.

Once Wyatt was completely stripped, Greta asked, “Liza, what do you see?”

“What? Oh, I see Wyatt.”

“What else?” Greta prodded.

“He’s naked?” The intellectual ended the statement as a question, unsure of what the counselor was looking for.

“Anything else?”

“He’s got a hard-on.”

“Anything else?”

“I don’t know. What are you looking for?” Exasperation entered Liza’s voice. “He’s got great abs?”

“Do you see his money?” Greta asked.

“No, how would you see that?”

“How about his business?”

“Goodness, no.”

“So all you see is your husband. All you see is a man.”

“Yes,” Liza nodded. “With a hard-on.” She added since she liked accuracy.

“So all you see is a sexual creature you are attracted to.”

Liza eyes grew round as the meaning sunk in. Greta could always count on Liza getting it.

(words 697 – originally appearing at Breathless Press 9/18/2013 for the 7/29/12 Sunday Fun – See the picture that inspired the story! – As I do not know the copyright permissions, I have not copied it here;  republished new blog format 9/23/2018)