After many years of feeling very unhappy in her marriage, Sue (not real name) decided she could take no more. She felt that Tom (not real name) was impossible to live with and totally did not get her needs. She had come from a very dysfunctional past where living with Tom was merely repeating the same pattern of not feeling like she mattered at all. The only reason she was staying with him is because she couldn't support herself. To make things worse, she no longer respected him. Tom, also, came from a very dysfunctional family and his family was still acting out and functioning in ways that were hurtful to Sue. Tom never really came to her defense with the excuse that he hadn't witnessed the incident. Sue exploded at one point and said she was done which served as the trigger for Tom to seek help.
Over several sessions, I worked with Tom on several issues and in a variety of ways: his childhood issues, understanding Sue's perspective, learning how to be more assertive. Clearly, a big help was Tom's motivation to make the marriage work. A couple of times, Sue joined him in session to clarify her needs and to also understand his point of view.
After several months, Tom decided he no longer needed to come. He was well aware and mindful of his feelings, of Sue and her needs. He learned to check in with her about their marriage rather than ignore it. They are happily back together as partners!