On the couch, things rarely go as planned. When dealing with wide emotional swings, it’s best to be prepared. As I stare at the unfamiliar man on my monitor, I anticipate the inevitable, then rise to answer the door.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“That’s your job, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but you need to have an appointment. I have a client scheduled in a few minutes.”
“You know Alexis?”
“Obviously, not as well as I thought. I’m her husband, Mike. May I?”
“She’s not coming. I’d say she’s healed. Your services are no longer needed.”
“Mike, you haven’t done anything foolish, I hope.”
“If you’re referring to the health of my soon-to-be-ex, she’s fine. I told her you left a message saying you needed to postpone your session. Figured I’d take her spot, since it’s paid for. Now, may I come in and sit down?”
“I’d like to call her to make sure she’s OK, first.”
“Fine. Sit quietly. I’ll call her.”
DOCTOR’S NOTE: He’s angry, but doesn’t seem aggressive or dangerous. He has her on speaker.
“Hi, Alexis. I was just checking to see if you need me to take Jack to soccer practice.”
“No, Mike, his friend’s parents are taking him.”
“OK, good. Gotta run.”
DOCTOR’S NOTE: She sounds fine.
“Mike, I don’t know you. There are crazy people around. It’s natural for me to take certain precautions. Alexis always speaks very highly of you.”
“That’s why she’s already out playing cougar.”
“I hear you’ve been having some fun as well.”
“Actually, that’s what I wanted to discuss with you. How did you know?”
“You confessed it to Alexis. She told me.”
“Bullshit again. Whose idea was it to hire the investigator?”
“No idea what you’re talking about.”
“Doc, a private investigator has been snooping around my affairs. Who hired her?”
“Really? We’re going to play this game for the full hour? The woman who has been following Christine and me around. Was it your idea?”
“Mike, when a client hires me, I do everything in my power to help them heal. My tactics may not be conventional, but I assure you, they’re legal. I’m very good at what I do.”
“So, you hired her.”
“Why does it matter? Your marriage is over, Mike. You’ve fallen in love with Christine, and Alexis is ready to move on. She deserves to be in love as well.”
“Ah, yes, Christine. She suspected someone was watching us for weeks. I told her she was paranoid. Things finally come to a head with Alexis; I confess and move out, and, guess what?”
“I have no idea.”
“I’m quite sure you do. Christine no longer wants to see me, and she has threatened to go to HR if her husband finds out. She insists we never speak again. Isn’t that fucking lovely? I risk everything, including losing my wife, kids, and job for this woman, and now she hates me. My wife hates me, my mistress hates me, and my kids are all kinds of confused. Great job, doc!”
“You’re blaming me for this?”
“Mike, all I am doing is trying to keep Alexis calm so that you two can part in the least painful way possible. There’s no need to hurt each other or your children. Right now you’re thinking I’m ganging up with her against you, and that’s untrue. There’s a place we can come to where we can minimize the damage. If you let this escalate, she’s going to get lawyers involved, and then your bad day begins. Believe me.”
“Oh, I know.”
“Here’s what you need to do: Get past the Christine thing. Avoid her at all costs. Be kind and cooperative with Alexis. Don’t slack on your paternal duties. Finally, don’t tell Alexis we spoke.”
“You make it sound so methodical and easy. I’m in love with this woman.”
“No. I mean, yes, but … ugh, Christine.”
“Mike, Christine is married, and she’s a coworker. You had your little fun, now put that behind you before it destroys your career.”
“You wouldn’t want that to happen. Then, I couldn’t pay as much alimony and support. Then, she wouldn’t be able to afford the amazing Doctor O.”
“I’m not out to get you Mike. I honestly believe that, as much as your confession hurt Alexis, she knows you never intended anything malicious. It was a selfish thing you did because your marriage was failing. It happens–more than half the time. You’re fortunate that you’re at an early stage, and you still have time to decide to finish this amicably.”
“Great. I’m the odd man out. I’m sleeping on my buddy’s sofa.”
“Get your own place and start rebuilding, Mike.”
“What if she decides she wants full custody?”
“I’d advise her against that. Your children need their father.”
“After all this time, now I have to start dating again. This sucks.”
“You’ll be fine, Mike.”
“I’m going to go now. I need a drink. Promise me you’re going to keep her from screwing me over. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
“You need to tell her that.”
“Hang in there, Mike.”
Diagnosis: Genuine regret on his part. This could resolve smoothly, after all.
Treatment: Hire a new detective. Put off seeing Alexis for three months, then revisit.
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