One of the problems that seems to crop up in marriages is due to the lack of adequate approval early in life. If I read Kohut correctly, he speaks of the need for the mother and father to react enthusiastically to the child's early exhibitionism and enable the person to thus find his/her way to a stable and enthusiastic sense of self. The patient here doesn't seem to have that. He's effective but joyless. He is basically critiquing himself negatively all the way.
The job of the therapist as a transitional selfobject will be to allow the patient to experience his own capacities as a sense of joy and thus move forward.