Some time ago my wife (known here as the Beautiful Armenian, or C) started a masters degree in psychotherapy, with the intention of qualifying and practising as a person-centred psychotherapist. Before this she had been concentrating on bringing up our three children, supporting me in a demanding job, and running our home.
It had always been her heartfelt wish to devote her time and energy to home-making. When the children were younger, she couldn’t. Our eldest son was born at a time when I was going through a career change. Money was tight, and things hadn’t improved a great deal when the Very Precious Daughter came along a few years later. And so C kept her teaching career going for longer than she would have wanted. However, when our third child was born, my work was going much better, and not long after that she was able to give up work completely.
I think she might have been quite happy to continue living the life she then carved out for herself indefinitely. She did a great job overseeing some home-improvement projects, she played a big role in running a community initiative, and she ran the home. From my point of view, I was largely freed from domestic tasks. But as the children grew up I began to challenge C on what she saw herself doing once her role as a full-time mother diminished, and also asked her to consider whether having more than one source of income might have advantages for us later on.
She listened. She went through a training course to become a counsellor for a charity. Then she signed up for a full-on, masters degree in psychotherapy. It’s described as part-time, but that’s about as an accurate a description as Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute recipes. The course has certainly involved far more hours and and far more effort each week, than I had to put in to my first degree, many years ago.
And it has been one of our big life events. It’s up there in the top five – top three maybe – alongside things like the birth of our children, my career change, and our decision to leave the heart of London’s commuter belt.
Occasionally somebody says something which surprises you so much that you have to stop and think before you answer. One of these moments happened about a year into the course, when C said to me that she could see that she had become bored in what she was doing before. A big, big admission. What would have happened if she had just let things drift?
If we look back at our lives so far, we might say that certain things – certain major things – have happened to us without us asking for them to happen. Having a gay son; an anorexic daughter; multiple interactions with depression; miscarriages. And more.
But it’s also clear that we don’t like just to sit back and see what life has got to throw at us. We also like to hand it a few slings and arrows to hurl in our direction, just to see how we get on.
C doing this course is one of those things, and I hope to share some of the experience, and more importantly some of the change, which this has created through this blog.