I met today with two interesting people: they’re both attorneys. They have a remarkably different style and presentation. One of them is usually animated, energetic, and optimistic. However, he also has bipolar mood cycles. Sometimes his energized vibe may get a bit intense, while at other times he will be in a depressed state that makes it hard for him to do his work at the standard that he would like to. His partner is thin, tall, and seems a bit on the anxious or obsessional end of the spectrum.
They’re a bit like Jack Spratt in terms of how different they are, and even how they appear.
Like Jack Spratt, they have really made their working relationship a success by building on each other’s strengths.
However, they came in because the more obsessional one was increasingly worried about his partner’s mood cycles. They had gotten a bit more intense because his wife had died, and he had been falling in love with another woman. Both events are pretty extreme and would be likely to trigger mood changes in almost anyone.
It was a very interesting meeting in that the context was a work relationship, in which many of the techniques of couple’s therapy would not have been appropriate. Delving into feelings and emotions was not point, for the issue was to reassure one partner that things were not getting worse, and to also come up with a way of talking about the mood cycles of the other partner; a way that was not apologizing, but was helpful. I think the conversation was very useful for both. Too often, this kind of conversation does not happen, and the result is that one of the other partners has worries that tend to grow in the dark of ignorance. Finding a way of having conversation with those who are affected by moods is very rewarding but also challenging.