Tough Cases in Family Therapy

Three case studies are presented as examples of the complex problems married clients bring to the therapist. [These clients have approved the use of their real names because they are exhibitionists.]

Case History 1.
Jacob and Leah sit side by side on a couch. To the experienced eye the couple’s body language reveals tension and stress. Jacob gazes into the distance while Leah shrinks into the cushions. Rebecca, Jacob’s other wife, squats on the floor. Rebecca is rending her garment, one thread at a time. The steady plinking noise punctuates the session. It’s very irritating.
The handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah are outside in the parking lot watching the kids.

Leah to Jacob—“I know you never really loved me. You resent it that my father tricked you into marrying me? Well how do you think I feel? I was fruitful and bore you sons and Rebecca couldn’t stand it. She gave you her maidservant to lie with. That’s cheating.”
Rebecca to Leah— “You should talk about cheating. You found a mandrake root and wouldn’t give me any unless I sent Jacob to lie in your tent. I think you were on mandrake all along.”
Leah to Rebecca— “I had to give Jacob my maidservant to lie with to get even with you. Now I hardly ever see him. Why couldn’t you just accept that you’re barren?”
Jacob to Wives— “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Case History 2.

Tamar has occupied an armchair on one side of the room. Her expression is aggrieved and defiant. Judah sits as far away as possible, his expression unreadable because he has veiled his face. He is wearing dozens of small protective amulets that rattle when he moves.

Tamar– “Every day I ask G–d why I was forced to marry into this family. It’s not my fault that Judah’s son, my first husband Er, got smote. And Onan– he was even worse. I still have a burn mark from when the lightning struck. And don’t even ask about PTSD–I was right next to him in bed. I know they were your sons, Judah, but fair’s fair. I should have been married to the youngest when he grew up. Instead you would have left me at my father’s house to wear widow’s weeds until menopause. If I hadn’t dressed up like a prostitute and stopped you on the way to sheep shearing I’d be childless today.
I want a brother or sister for your twins. How come you shun my tent? I think it was pretty generous of me to overlook the fact that you tried to have me burned to death.”

Judah–“Wife, let me put this in terms you can understand. It’s the bottom of the ninth, you already have two strikes. Third strike and I’m out. I’m the coach of this game and it’s the dugout for you.”

Case History 3

Solomon comes to the therapist’s office alone. He looks very tired. He had arranged some sessions of individual therapy before scheduling couple’s therapy with his wives–

“When I was younger, I really liked to party. Even if I didn’t, some things are expected of the King of Israel. I’m married to Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. Some nights I can’t even remember their names. For instance, I’m married to three sisters named Jun, Jen and Jeun. And my first wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, is a real drama queen. I thought she’d mellow out but she’s still jealous as a cat. I think she’s been gossiping with some of my Edomite wives because my scouts report armed troops on the border and they’re getting intelligence from someone on the inside. It’s hard to establish trust when you have 1,000 wives, most of whom are from enemy tribes. I can’t seem to please any of them these days.”

Despite the challenges these tough cases present, the therapist can resolve all conflicts using simple rules based on the wisdom of millenia. It’s fortunate that traditional marriage has not changed in the last 3,000, 6,000, since Adam and Eve served dinosaur eggs at their wedding brunch. Though some complain that it’s hard to find room for all the cattle a bride brings to her husband’s family, mere convenience should not justify experimenting with an institution that has remained changeless through the ages and has served men so well.

(For more details on these cases see– Genesis 29-30:22, Genesis 38:6-30, 1 Kings 11:1-9, and do read your Bible for remedies to false claims.)

A Step Forward

Today Governor Chafee signed an executive order recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where the marriages are legal.

This is a small, reasonable step that will clear up confusion and save lawyer hours. When Rhode Island finally joins the rest of New England in marriage equality nothing much will change for most of us. But some will miss the controversy. From what I heard at the State House, we should all be very worried about Communists. Let’s legalized gay marriage and end this distraction from our crusade against the Bolshevik threat.

We Do — In North Carolina

Pam Spaulding, blogmistress of Pam’s House Blend, is an inspiration to all citizen journalists. Carrying a day job, living with chronic pain and disability, Pam tirelessly advocates for fairness and equal rights. Pam lives with her wife in North Carolina, they are an interracial couple. Pam campaigned, along with individuals, organizations and churches, against Amendment One– a law that bans all unions, gay or straight, except traditional marriage. This will affect straight couples when it comes to such rights as visitation in the hospital. It might just foul things up enough to discomfort the average North Carolinian.

About a year ago I heard Maggie Gallagher of NOM (National Organization for Marriage) testify in the Rhode Island State House that we should put marriage equality to a popular vote. Putting the rights of a minority to a majority vote is almost a guarantee that those rights will be denied, as we see in North Carolina.

Pam links here to the day after Amendment One…

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality is ready to roll with an equality action following the results of today’s primary. Its WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples in Southern communities requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in order to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws. During these actions clergy, family and friends stand with them. She shares her feelings about passage of Amendment One.

This is a hard night. As I sit in Wilson, N.C. I’m thinking most about the LGBT youth across the state who, for months now, have been hearing increasingly vitriolic messages that they are less than. My heart is heavy for them, and heavy with the news that Amendment One has passed.

But that’s not all that I feel. Looking forward, I feel deeply hopeful about what is possible – tomorrow and in the years to come. This hope comes from knowing people like you and from knowing that we are building a new southern equality movement that, I truly believe, can accelerate the path to full federal equality.

We can’t change the results of this vote, but we can determine what comes next. Tomorrow when kids across the state wake up, I want them to know that this story isn’t over.

Follow the link above if you want to know what is happening nationwide.

I hope to get Pam’s autograph at NetRoots Nation. She is always worth reading. You can visit the Blend here.

I’ll probably be hearing more about this in church. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a campaign for human rights called, Standing on the Side of Love.

So, When’s the Wedding?

Same-sex lovers in New York won’t be able to weasel out of making a commitment, or at least one excuse is gone.

Congratulations, felicitations and best wishes to all New Yorkers. This is civil rights for some, and likely to be an economic boost for the whole state, especially those in the floral and photo industries.

The window of opportunity for Rhode Island is closing. We’ll look back some day and ask why we passed on a chance to do right and do well at the same time.

Read Your Bible

Yesterday was busy, with a rally for Planned Parenthood in the morning and hearings at the State House last night.

I was sleep-deprived already, having driven 360 miles round trip to go to a wake, and I had to work too.

I’d love to review some of the arguments against marriage equality when I get a chance, but one outrageous claim stands out.

Several speakers, including clergy, said that marriage has always been one man and one woman. Some went so far as to say that this was not only the case for Judaism and Christianity, but for humanity since the dawn of time.

Have they never read their Bible?

Well, I have, and will expand on this point after I get home from work.

Senator Harold Metts had his Bible in hand, and unabashedly preached his Christian faith, saying several times that it was not his opinion, but God’s word. I think Rhode Island lost an inspired minister when Metts went into politics, and gained a politician who gives the impression that his office is a means to his religious ends. I don’t know how much he is willing to recognize the rights of constituents who do not share his beliefs.

Rev. Bernard Healy said that the reason for marriage is children. This was the testimony of several other speakers. I wish the Church had used its influence on the late governor when he repeatedly cut programs for poor children, but they have their priorities.

I don’t know what Roger Williams would say about all this. He left Massachusetts because they had a state religion that punished heretics. Now Mass is wicked blue and RI has an organized religious base that politicians defy at their own risk. Mass, I notice, has not suffered the apocalypse predicted for RI if we let same-sex couples marry. In fact, the divorce rate there is low. Maybe protecting marriage is more connected to employment, education, opportunity and justice than to depriving qualified couples who want legal recognition for a commitment they already live up to. Maybe heterosexual couples value marriage more when they see how this right, or lack of it, affects their gay friends and neighbors.

ProJo Has the Best Video of Marriage Hearing

I checked out the local news, and ProJo just has the best video, though it only covers the rally.

Here is from last summer, a man speaking in tongues. I post this for old time’s sake, though I won’t be dropping by Apponaug Pentecostal anytime soon. Speaking in tongues completely absolves you of having to make any sense at all. I used to do it myself, so I can say that it’s a learned thing that’s easy to do if you are encouraged by the people around you. I think when I was that age I also used to hum and whistle at the same time, which I thought was pretty neat.

If people want to speak in tongues, that’s fine. It’s not that uncommon, I’ve heard it done by Catholics, Pentecostals and Baptists. But if we’re talking about making laws that affect non-believers and believers alike, we have a right to expect rationality.