Helping you create the life you desire

Counseling Shrek and Fiona

Last year I had the fun experience of traveling to Los Angeles to consult with the producers and director of the fourth Shrek movie. They needed a marriage counselor to discuss the issues that Shrek and Fiona were dealing with. If you have seen the three previous Shrek movies you will know that Shrek and Fiona had fallen in love, married, and had new baby triplets. Of course they were having issues!

When I begin couples counseling with humans, after an initial consultation, I usually meet with each separately to get to know each as individuals. Among other things, I want to know about their family of origin, environment, and past relationship history. So to prepare for my "ogre" consultation, I rented the three previous films. As I watched, I studied Shrek and Fiona to try to understand them in the same context as I do humans.

What I learned is that they were struggling with the same issues most new parents do:

Identity Changes - When people transition into parenthood, life as they know it ends. No matter what age, becoming a parent changes the way you see the world, re-orders your priorities, and often causes you to lose touch with who you thought you were.

Differences Become More Apparent - Each of us experience childhood in different ways. You may have been lucky enough to come from a relatively healthy home. Or like many of us, you were raised by parents who had their own struggles. We learn how to parent from how we were parented. Then we have to do the dance of combining parenting styles without criticizing or judging our partner for their differences.

Relationship Changes - It's hard to feel romantic when you are exhausted, anxious about being a good parent, and even jealous of the attention paid to your child by your partner. New parents find it hard enough to find time for a shower, let alone time for each other.

Little Time for Self - Before becoming a parent, you probably felt you had plenty of time for work, friends, family, and your relationship. Once you have a kid or kids, it often feels like you have no time for the things you used to enjoy. You lose your ability to be spontaneous, the luxury of solitude, and even healthy habits like exercise are hard to maintain.

If you have seen Shrek Forever After, you know that Shrek was pushed to the limit and wanted his old life back. In this imaginary tale, he wished for just one day to experience what he used to know. As much as you may love your child or children, are thrilled to be a parent, enjoy the magic of watching a little person blossom in your care, I am sure there are times you wish for "just one day."

Instead of feeling guilty for your ambivalence, getting angry at your partner, or frustrated with your kids, it might be helpful for you to come in for marriage therapy or couples counseling. It may only take a few sessions to discover new ways to assimilate your new role.

Karen Rowinsky, LSCSW, offers one-on-one counseling, marriage counseling and couples therapy, family therapy, and relationship coaching. Her Overland Park, Kansas office services clients from the Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, and Kansas City, MO areas. 

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