Relationship Breakthrough

How to create outstanding relationships in every area of your life.

Creating Good Memories (Part II)

Creating a better relationship by creating better memories
Cloe Madanes
This post is a response to Creating Good Memories (Part I) by Cloe Madanes

The comparison with Scarlett and Rhett had set the tone for another type of interaction between Sally and Bob. How could they continue talking about messes when they had just been compared to the most romantic couple of the Western world? Steve had raised them to a higher level of being.

Once they were at this level, instead of focusing on messes, alcohol, illness, or medications, Steve said, "I want you to tell me what are the best memories that you have of your life together. Something that happened during your courtship, your honeymoon, something related to the children - your best memories."

Immediately both Bob and Sally said that they didn't have any good memories. They had always quarreled and said nasty things to each other. Steve insisted that every couple has some good memories, and he asked them to just sit quietly thinking so that some good memories would come back.

After a few minutes Bob said that he remembered something. They had gone to Florida for their honeymoon. One evening Bob went for a walk by himself to a lagoon where a trainer was working with dolphins. He learned the signals that the trainer gave the dolphins, and the next evening he took Sally for a walk, gave the signals to the dolphins, and they put on a show just for her.

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As Sally remembered this incident, she was moved and looked at Bob fondly. Then she remembered another wonderful thing that Bob had done on the birth of their first child. So now they had two good memories.

Steve told them that in the next 2 weeks, before he saw them again, he wanted them to do one special thing and that was to create a good memory together. He said, "The quarrels about the dog and the garbage are something that 10 or 20 years from now you will not remember. But if you create an extraordinary memory like the one about the dolphins, that is something that you will have to treasure forever."

That day was the first snow of the winter. When the couple left the session, Bob built a big snowman, right at the door of our Institute, which is something that we will always remember.

For 3 months, Bob and Sally came to see Steve every 2 weeks. Each time they told him about the good memory they had created, and each time they planned the good memory they would create next. They didn't have much money, so they had to be creative and resourceful in finding wonderful things to do with each other and with their children.

During those 3 months, Sally quit drinking and her health improved as she began to take care of herself. She said she could do that because now she was having such a good time with Bob and they were so happy together.

Therapy was no longer necessary, and they brought their children to meet Steve before they said good-bye.

The focus on the positive fact that Bob and Sally were capable of creating wonderful memories diverted them from their negativity. As they were able to bring out the best in themselves, they were able to bring out the best in each other. We should all live by the idea of creating good memories with those we love.

Cloe Madanes is one of the originators of the strategic approach to family therapy. She has authored seven books.

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