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Couples Counseling:  Acting “As If”

Both Cape Coral Couples Counseling and Ft Myers Couples Counseling share a story told by J. Allan Peterson about a woman who went to the office of physician and psychologist, Dr. George Crane.  She was full of hatred toward her husband.  She remarked,

“I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me.”  Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan.  “Go home and act as if you really love your husband.  Tell him how much he means to you.  Praise him for every decent trait.  Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible.  Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him.  Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb.  Tell him that you’re getting a divorce.  That will really hurt him.”

With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!” And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting “as if.”  For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing.  When she didn’t return, Dr. Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”

“Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never!  I discovered I really do love him.”


Naples FL Couples Counselors along with Bonita Springs Couples Counseling tell us about a therapist named Terry Sterrenberg who wrote about a couple she was working with.  The husband, Jack, was dealing with depression and it was negatively impacting his relationship with his wife, Jan.  After some sessions, Sterrenberg asked Jack to think about this question,

“If you weren’t depressed, how would you be acting differently toward Jan?”

Jack took the question to heart.  Weeks later he reported that his relationship with Jan dramatically changed for the better.  He told Sterrenberg that when he considered how he would behave if he were not depressed, “he just started doing those things.”  Thinking “as if” made a huge difference in his life and their relationship.


Couples Counseling Fort Myers as well as Couples Counseling Estero FL tell us about therapist, Michelle Weiner-Davis, who shared the following to further illustrate the point.

“Years ago, I had been away from home at a conference.  I was gone for about five days [where she had a wonderful experience].  During that period, I called home every day to check on my husband, Jim, and my children.  By day three, I could tell that Jim was getting tired of playing Mr. Mom.  He grew less than friendly with each passing call.

Upon arriving home, I was sitting next to a friend on the plane and as we pulled into the gate, I told my friend that I had a knot in my stomach.  I assumed Jim – who was picking us up at the airport – wouldn’t be too happy to see me.  Because I was expecting an icy reception, I told my friend I would cautiously allow Jim to set the tone for our greeting.  I would keep a low profile, not be too effervescent, and certainly not let on that I had had a good time with my friends.

My friend, who happens to be a therapist asked, ‘How would you greet Jim differently if you were expecting him to be happy to see you?’  That was a no-brainer.  I would get off the plane excited to see him, throw my arms around him, kiss him, and start telling him about the conference and what happened there.  I also would want to know about his time at home and how he was feeling.  Now, contrast in your mind’s eye how differently Jim might have felt about these two different receptions!

I decided to ‘act as if.’  Even though I wasn’t confident that Jim was elated about my homecoming, I acted as if I thought he were.  I greeted him exuberantly.  And happily, within about ten seconds, I was sure I made the right decision.  He was thrilled to see me and we had a great ride home together.

The next time you find yourself thinking negatively about how a situation may turn out, stop for a moment and ask yourself:  (a) How was I going to approach this situation given my pessimism?  (b) How would I like the situation to turn out instead?  (c) How would I handle this situation differently if I were expecting good things to happen?”

These are important questions, says Couples Counseling Cape Coral FL and Marco Island Couples Counseling.


In summary, a good question to ask yourself, notes Couples Counseling North Fort Myers, is in what way might acting “as if” in a given area help improve your relationship?

If you live in Southwest Florida and are having difficulty in your relationship and need couples counseling, contact Dr. Ken Newberger.  For more information, go to


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