Don- What a great piece of work!
Your creative approach to helping Harold overcome his crippling guilt about leaving Martie is inspiring!
From a Control Mastery Approach you have just passed a very big test. You told Harold that you valued his pleasure and wanted him to have a good life. You helped him become free from his identifications with self sacrificing unhappy parents. I am sure he is a better therapist for it. You had seen him struggle for years to try to fix things with his wife and remain loyal to the family. He was not helped simply by insight. In this and many cases, Harold need you to actively show him your acceptance and approval of his making this dramatic change. There are some patients who would not be helped by a directive intervention. Ones who are very compliant or who have been intruded upon might fall into that category. There are however many for whom that kind of direct intervention is the most powerful and successful one possible. Many therapists shy away from this type of intervention as they fear not "being neutral". Control Mastery Theory doesn't use that designation. We do not see any kind of intervention neutral. Rather we look to see if an intervention will be pro or anti plan. That is to say will it help the patient progress toward his or her goals, or disconfirm a pathogenic belief. We believe that our patients are testing and watching us to see and decide how we are reacting to their plans. Will we encourage them? be threatened by their strength, intelligence, ambition, aggression, attractiveness or independence etc.
Clearly Harold and Meg benefited from your courageous action.