One of the most important things I learned from Showtime’s Couples Therapy is that not everyone is introspective. They don’t know how, or won’t look within to examine their actions, beliefs, etc and how those are affecting their environment, and especially their relationships. Sometimes it’s because of trauma, sometimes it’s arrogance or entitlement, other times it’s simple laziness and lack of curiosity. But there are a lot of people out there who legitimately spend no time looking within. That is, until they are in couples therapy and need to finally examine how they are contributing to their own family and relationship issues. It’s wild watching the introspection lightbulb go on almost in real time.
As someone who has been introspective my whole life — part of it is my personality and part of it is being a survivor of pretty gnarly abuse since shortly after I was born — I’ve lived my years thinking that everyone is introspective. And being shocked over and over again at evidence to the contrary which I interpreted as people being malicious on purpose. This is what happens when abuse is your baseline, you internalize it and constantly ask yourself what you did to deserve the treatment and alter your own behavior, rather than thinking the abuser should stop their violence. It eventually extends to anyone and everyone who does anything hurtful, you assume violent intent. I’m not sure which is worse: thinking people are hurting you on purpose or finding out that they don’t actually think about you or take your feelings into consideration at all.
Before I started my own individual trauma therapy, Couples Therapy began calibrating me to understand the dynamics of my own past and all these non-introspective people who hurt me in big and small ways. A lot of those people probably have zero idea how much damage they actually caused. Because they can’t reflect on themselves, and the resulting lack of empathy makes them impenetrable in a way and impossible to hold accountable. This bit of knowledge has been a game-changer for me, especially after going through the transformative process of trauma therapy myself.
Couples Therapy might on the surface seem like a television show for people in romantic relationships. But each season is actually useful for all humans who have relationships, romantic and otherwise. My only complaint about it is that it’s on a paid cable station and not more accessible, because it definitely feels like required viewing for everyone.