Couples Therapy seeks to repair the relationships of couples who have spent significant time in the spotlight, and season two is going to bring the drama in ways that season one never dreamed. Dr. Jenn Berman will be speaking to us each week to help us make sense of the couples’ issues and shed light on why they need her help. This week we talk about Dr. Jenn’s reaction to Tiny‘s confession of abuse, Courtney‘s thwarting of the dress code, and the immature way the rest of the house handled Courtney and Doug‘s departure.
Once again, this episode is dominated by Courtney and Doug’s drama.
The dress code drama, yes. But to me, the group therapy was dominated by Tiny and Alex. I think that Tiny is one of the bravest women I have ever met, and for her to talk about what happened to her in this forum was unbelievably courageous. She had never discussed it with anyone but her husband an she had been told never to speak about it, she comes from a Southern family where people don’t talk about things that aren’t pretty, and for hr this was an unbelievable breakthrough and a really important step in her healing. She had been, as many survivors of molestation do, carrying her molester’s secret, and in doing that, she didn’t realize she was protecting him and not herself or her family. For her to speak about this was very brave and also very healing for many other people.
It makes much more sense now why she feels so tied to JoJo, he’s been carrying this around with him as well and as the only other person who knows this, she must get so much support from him.
And you could see his response when she was talking about it, how sweet he was, how supportive he was. Despite his addiction and his problems, this man loves his wife with all his heart. It has made her feel safe with him and it’s something that bonds them together.
Her story was a testament to the power of group therapy, seeing how everybody reacted to it, especially Shayne.
Yup, absolutely, and also I think viewers will see for the first time that this is a group that has really grown to care about each other.
With Alex, in her case it was like, you think you know somebody, or at least their persona, and we realized with the story she told about her father that she’s carrying a lot of heavy stuff around with her.
That’s such a brilliant point because you never know what drives people to do and say the things they do.
And just like JoJo, Simon showed how much pain it brought to him to hear her talk about her story, he was genuinely affected and hurt by her hurt.
And you could also see how protective he felt about her that when she said “My dad had Alzheimers and became a different person and I wished he would die,” he came right in to say “His dying was a good thing,” he wanted to protect her, like, you’re off the hook, it’s okay, honey.
When you brought up the idea of talking to her mother, was she upset and opposed to that idea, or or did she just acknowledge that it would devastate her but it had to be done?
She understood the point I was making when I made that request, but she was upset and horrified by the idea of it. She felt like when she had done her other show, that it had dragged her whole family including her mom through the mud and that she didn’t want to ever subject her mother to the cameras again. She was afraid it would be a bad experience and that even asking her mother would offend and upset her. She had a lot of fear about it and was very apprehensive. She didn’t want to upset her mother. She saw the potential for it to be a healing experience for them but she was so afraid to even ask her mom.
When Courtney was asked about her childhood trauma, she went off on a tangent about how her childhood was actually so great, was she trying to make a particular point with that, or was she just not able to process the question or admit to having any trauma in her life?
I think that Courtney wanted to believe that she had this happy, idyllic upbringing and that somehow she didn’t experience life’s pains, but the truth is that Courtney talks a lot about having been bullied. That’s why she feels so strongly about being an advocate against bullying, she has experienced pain, and I think it’s very hard for her to talk about it. In all honesty I think she’s worked very hard to protect herself, emotionally, because people have been very cruel to her. As a result, that makes it much harder for her to open up, especially in an environment where people have been so hard on her and so impatient with her and so tough with her. Courtney’s parents are recently separated, and when I talked to her about that, she acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but I don’t know anyone for whom their parents’ divorce isn’t painful.
Does her parents’ relationship have an effect on her relationship with Doug?
150%. You’ll see us talking about that at length later.
After she receives her makeover and comes back to the house, she was very flirtatious with Nik right in front of Doug. Is that just the way she behaves with everyone, or was she really flirting? It was strange to see her do it right in front of Doug.
It’s hard to know, because she’s very hypersexual with everyone, especially men. It did seem like she sends more of that Nik’s way, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s young and he’s a cute guy, I don’t know why it was that she did more if that with him, but she did it with everybody.
I know Shayne and Doug’s relationship is contentious already, but when Shayne says something to Doug about the flirting, he refuses to accept that. He won’t even listen to her, even it’s constructive.
I think he’s just gotten so used to being attacked that his first response is to defend instead of to say, wait, there’s something constructive here. Especially when it comes from Nik or Shayne, he’s quick to blow it off and not value it.
When Courtney returned to the house wearing non-dress-code clothing, Doug genuinely seemed disappointed that she came back dressed that way. We’ve already discussed his inability to stand up to her but he realized that her behavior was now going to affect both of them and whether or not they would stay or go.
And what was great was that Doug said to her even before I got to the room “This is couples therapy, this is a decision we should have made together as a couple, it’s not cool you made this decision without me.” But unfortunately, he left it at that. He didn’t challenge her beyond that. I would have loved to see him take it to another level of “This is a decision we needed to make as a couple, let’s talk about what’s in our best interest as a couple, what’s in my best interest,” because Doug’s best interests often get overlooked.
When you were talking to the two of them about her clothes, I want to ask you about Alex’s behavior and how you felt about the aggressive way she came in and jammed the dollar bills into Courtney’s clothes. How did you feel seeing that and having her interrupt your conversation?
I was very, very upset that that happened. Here was Courtney saying “This is a hostile environment, I don’t want to be here,” and then to have Alex walk in and do that, she made Courtney’s point for her.
It seemed like it started as a joke but built up into something much more aggressive.
Her actions were aggressive and cruel and it was adolescent, mean girl behavior. I was very disappointed that she chose to do that.
Everyone else acted kind of immaturely though to as Doug and Courtney left, they all mocked them when they went to the windows and pretended to cry and it was kind of cruel after a certain point.
It was a total mob mentality. It was very Lord of the Flies.
Will we see Courtney and Doug’s reaction to that and how they were affected by that behavior?
Yes, we’ll discuss it in the next episode. You’ll also see in the next episode how I responded to the group about their behavior, we had a major sit-down and I don’t think I have ever responded to a group the way I responded to this group about their behavior surrounding Courtney and Doug leaving.
This might be a stretch, but did Courtney and Doug leaving at least strengthen the bond between the other four couples?
I think the mutual dislike and Courtney and Doug bonded them plenty, but I don’t think this bad behavior bonded them any more. Just wait till you see what’s coming though. In therapy, we talk about things being grist for the mill and how anything that happens in therapy can be used to develop insight, and this was used in our work together as a group.