The Lucatorto Family
A mother’s severe anxiety and OCD wreak havoc on her husband and daughter. They walk on eggshells around her, too terrified to say anything in fear of setting her off.
If you find the passion waning, you’re not alone. At some point in the course of any long term relationship one or both partners probably will lose their sexual desire.
Scandalous affairs that end relationships grab headlines in the tabloids. Think Arnold, Tiger, and Petraeus to name a few. But in real life, like yours, a relationship can survive an affair and become even stronger than before.
In all relationships, there are ways to handle the inevitable disagreements and disagreeable parts of life.
Danielle Lucatorto suffered severe sexual abuse as a child and is still suffering from the aftermaths in adulthood. Danielle had her daughter, Tiffany, at 16 and was single for several years. When she was 24 she was introduced to Mark, a mild-mannered real estate broker who fell in love with Danielle right away. They got married and settled into a steady life.
Although Danielle suffered from anxiety at the time, it wasn’t enough to debilitate her. Then, after a few years of marriage, Mark lost his business and plunged into a severe depression. He pulled away from Danielle and she flipped out. She started exhibiting signs of agoraphobia, germaphobia, eating disorders and the like. For the next five years, she refused to leave the house except for special occasions. Since that time, Mark has cared for her every need.
The family goes to see Dr. Tara Fields, licensed marriage and family therapist, hoping that she will help cure Danielle of her disorder. Tara discovers that the family has been walking on eggshells around Danielle for years now. Tiffany is afraid to show any negative emotions towards her mother for fear that her mother will freak out and Mark has given up his own needs to care for Danielle.
Tara first works with Danielle to release her rage at the man who abused her. She points out that her abuser made her distrustful of all people and things. Danielle promises to start a new chapter in her life and face her fears. In order to do that, Tara tells her she must stop having Mark take care of her. Mark agrees.
Tara assigns Danielle an anxiety specialist to help her face her greatest fear – going into a grocery store. Danielle goes into the store with the specialist and is actually able to touch a tomato without using a napkin. Later that night, she conquers another fear - letting people into her home. She invites her Aunt Sharin over and cooks dinner for her. Danielle doesn’t touch her food, much to everyone’s disappointment. But, she made it through the day without suffering a panic attack.
In the second counseling session, Danielle and Mark tackle their lack of a sex life. They haven’t been intimate since Mark went into a depression five years ago. Tara assigns them the homework of doing a Tai Chi class together. That way they can start to reacquaint themselves with each other’s bodies.
Both Mark and Danielle enjoy the class but afterwards all hell breaks loose. Tiffany expresses that she’s stressed out about school and Danielle pitches a fit. The fight escalates and soon the whole family is involved.
In the final counseling session, Danielle and Tiffany talk about the fight. Tiffany reiterates that she can’t show any negative emotion in front of Danielle or her mother will panic. Danielle agrees. Tara asks Danielle to apologize to Tiffany but her apology is half-hearted. Tiffany is upset. Tara teaches Danielle how to ask Tiffany for what she needs. Tiffany replies that all she needs is to be heard and not judged. After a tearful exchange, Danielle realizes what she now needs to do.
Six weeks after counseling, the family is doing much better. Danielle is getting out of the house more. She and Mark go to watch Tiffany at a dance class. Then the whole family goes to play miniature golf. It seems like an idyllic family scene, but Danielle is still wearing gloves to ward off germs, and Mark is still indulging Danielle’s needs. The couple’s relationship has not changed much but they’ve begun the process.