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People Are Divided About That Major Marriage Debate On "This Is Us," So I Asked My Couples Therapist For Some Insight

"This is hardly the end of Beth and Randall," Dr. Henry told BuzzFeed.

Last night's episode of This Is Us confirmed what we've known all along: Beth and Randall Pearson are the definitive TV Mom and Dad of this generation.

Perfectly titled "R&B" — as in rhythm and blues and Randall and Beth (!!!) — the episode finally gave us a detailed look at the characters' 20-year-old love story, including their bumpy first date waaay back in college...

NBC/Hulu

...their marriage proposal...

NBC/Hulu

...and even their wedding day.

NBC/Hulu

Sounds like a fairy tale, right? More like a rollercoaster, because every time Beth and Randall hit one of those #relationshipgoals milestones, the SAME issue would send them plummeting to the SAME damn argument, year after year.

This Beth & Randall flashback ep has me like...#ThisIsUs

Basically, Beth feels like she and Randall have allowed their relationship dynamic to become one that requires her to prioritize Randall's wants and needs — mental health, included — over her own.

NBC

"We made a promise to one another that we would never got lost in each other, and I broke that promise; and you let me," Beth admitted, recalling the day Randall proposed. "You have let me bend to your every need, time and time again."

Randall, on the other hand, doesn't understand why Beth would feel that way, especially considering how he's always been her biggest cheerleader.

NBC

"Please do not self-protect by putting this on me," Randall countered. "I refuse to be blamed for the fact that you had your awakening 20 years too late. At any other point in our marriage, if you had decided you wanted to go back to dance, I would have been nothing but supportive."

Even though people absolutely HATED watching mom and dad yell hurtful things at one another...

@nikkiknowsitall / Via Twitter: @nikkiknowsitall

...they were still able to acknowledge that Beth and Randall's issues are, in fact, very real and very relatable.

@PerditaPatrice / Via Twitter: @PerditaPatrice

As @Rosannasfriend mentions below, everyone has their own opinions on whether Beth or Randall (or both of them) are in the wrong. So to get an expert's nuanced take on the Pearsons and their relationship issues, I spoke with Dr. Racine Henry, PhD., an NYC-based licensed marriage and family therapist.

@Rosannasfriend / Via Twitter: @Rosannasfriend

My boyfriend and I are actually patients of Dr. Henry (we do bi-monthly couples counseling as a proactive measure), so trust me when I say that she TRULY knows her stuff!!!

"Beth became a participant in her own unhappiness by creating a dynamic of bringing up a concern and then smoothing it over for Randall," Dr. Henry told BuzzFeed.

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

"I think the fear of her failing at her relationship has always been so big for Beth because she wants to 'do her best,' as her mom encouraged her to do when she was younger [in the earlier "Our Little Island Girl" episode]," she explained. "Now that Beth is dancing and living her dream, she's fiercely protective of it. I don't know that she believes there can be a balance because for so long it was all or nothing."

"And Randall obviously has some unrealistic expectations, like to never fight and to be as in-sync as his parents, but hasn't given his own relationship the chance to organically get there, which we thought it had," Dr. Henry continued.

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

"Parents often don't want their kids to see the ugly sides of their relationship, but it's necessary so that kids understand balance is healthy, rather than one extreme or the other," she noted. "We know Rebecca and Jack fought more often than the one time Randall saw and that they had deep issues to work through. I think their children could have benefitted from seeing that work, too."

As for professional advice, Dr. Henry has two recommendations: going to therapy and also talking to one another about their expectations, their perceived roles within the marriage, and their goals for themselves, their marriage, and their family.

NBC / Via giphy.com

"They're on entirely different paths now and it's changing both of them," she said. "I think they need to go back to basics and get to know each other again. What are they willing to sacrifice at this point? What can no longer be sacrificed? What wounds from the past need to be addressed and healed to avoid further resentment?"

And if you're wondering how critical therapy is in the case of Beth and Randall, the answer is VERY. "Therapy provides facilitation and objective feedback," Dr. Henry explained. "Simply discussing this one-on-one will probably lead to an argument as we saw in the final scene last night."

NBC/Hulu / Via giphy.com

"It's easy to say 'I don't want this to ever happen again,' but it can be difficult to recognize when those things happen and to know how they come up in the first place," she pointed out. "They need to set boundaries with one another to know when these unwanted behavior are occurring again so they can hold themselves and each other accountable. A therapist can help them recognize their unhealthy patterns and challenge them to do things differently according to the goals they have."

Interestingly enough, this huge blowout might have actually saved their relationship. As Dr. Henry noted, this is Beth and Randall's chance to conceptualize and recreate a marriage they both want.

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

"Like most relationships, they went years without discussing whether they were truly happy as life changed. I think they're in a necessary place because their relationship is shaken up, they both said their ugly truths about the marriage, and they're uncomfortable. " she said. "Yes, Beth weaponizing Randall's mental health was hurtful and wrong, but it also highlighted how much she was struggling to support him through his anxiety. Loving someone with mental health concerns IS hard.

All in all, this is GREAT news for Mom and Dad: "This is hardly the end of Beth and Randall," Dr. Henry predicted. "If they were to divorce now, it would completely invalidate everything about them as a couple we've seen thus far."

NBC / Via giphy.com

"Most couples have to go through infidelity to get this opportunity. So now, it's time to rebuild using a new blueprint."

  1. So readers, who's really in the wrong here?

    So readers, who's really in the wrong here?

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So readers, who's really in the wrong here?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Definitely Beth.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Randall, 100%.
  3.  
    vote votes
    They're BOTH in the wrong and need to clearly and rationally communicate with one another, both one-on-one and in therapy.
  4.  
    vote votes
    ARGHHH, this is REALLY tricky. I'll share my thoughts in the comment section...

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