Lights, Camera, Real Life

It is important to understand that we are dealing with a world filled with good intentions - on the part of the patients, and certainly on the part of the therapists.

I'm doing 10 times better than Moses. With all due respect to our first prophet, he got to meet the world's creator only a handful of times. I, on the other hand, have met him/her/them dozens of times. His god produced signs and wonders for years; mine do it for just 50 minutes - with a cup of coffee, air-conditioning, quiet voice and plenty of tissues. They too have commandments, most of which take the form of a bill. Welcome to the world of couples therapy.

It is important to understand that we are dealing with a world filled with good intentions - on the part of the patients, and certainly on the part of the therapists. The Hollywood movie industry, may it be cursed, has made too many saccharine-sweet movies with determined suitors who put on a show that would make Minister Ruhama Avraham Balila blanch - men with an endless willingness to listen and caress, children who only by chance are not exhibited in a museum, a good job, an easy income, and a life that makes heaven seem like a demotion by comparison. My Sisyphean efforts to explain to my beloved spouse that the movies depict a fiction that barely manages to stretch beyond 90 minutes fall on deaf ears. We have to try, she argues.

We tried, we are trying, and we will try - some say with awe-inspiring success, while others maintain that it is a lost cause from the start. Fortunately for us, there are people in the world who really, really want to help us. That's right, the couples therapists. Ten years of marriage have brought us to three such therapists.

Our Tour de Couplehood has already passed through Ramat Hasharon, Tel Aviv and Ashdod. Soaring fuel prices did not deter us, the insane fee was forgotten, dubious babysitters were rallied to the cause, and the children were delighted to hear that Mom and Dad were suddenly watching so many movies.

The truth is that we met wonderful people who are talented in their field and have outstanding reputations - but still, something wasn't working. If we did a good job internalizing the doctrine that was beaten into us, then obviously we are to blame.

Nevertheless, would it not have been better for the first therapist to refrain from redecorating her home in tandem with the therapy, thereby sparing me the feeling that I was contributing substantially to building the country?

Did the second therapist honestly expect that someone who had been diagnosed with a reptilian brain would see the light?

Did the third therapist, who was chosen on the basis of his ethnic background so he could speak to the Levantine in me, hope that once I heard the name Adler a great light would suffuse the room?

The results, if you tally an interim score, are pretty bleak. Love still resides in our nest, but so does a large share of those blights that accompanied us beneath the wedding canopy. Comfort could have been found in small alterations, but two questions continue to pester us: Was it worth the price? And is what we have now the product of therapeutic genius or fairly predictable progress for people who have, after all, matured over the past 10 years?

One conclusion is not in dispute: Like Moses, we have yet to enter the promised land.