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Posts Tagged ‘relationship skills’

It is a sad predicament when a couple fights over who is “right” and this becomes more important than anything else.

Sometimes this happens when the couple have given up on ever being close to their partner, but they are still needy of the other. These people stay together trying to salvage what is left of their wounded egos by having fights about power: who is more right, who is on top.

It can be helpful to have this pointed out, because often the couple is aware of being unhappy but not fully aware of what they are doing. It can be a hard pattern to break, worse when one person is better at self awareness than the other. What is needed is both people to become aware first is when the power fights get started, and second what is underneath their jabbing at the other – what is motivating the criticism and put downs.  Most often it is feeling hurt, and not feeling safe enough to admit it.

In therapy session, if the therapist can demonstrate that safety will be provided, the couple can more likely begin to discover the underlying pain and hurts.  Family of origin habits of relating often show up here. For example: if they learned in their families of origin that no one is interested in their feelings, they are naturally reluctant to say how they feel. They have a whole world of expressing emotion to learn about. Healing individual hurts from childhood are often a part of couple therapy. This can be done quite successfully with the couple therapist in the presence of the partner when there is enough trust in the relationship.  Often seeing your partner working on themselves brings up compassion and understanding; with other couples it may be necessary for each person to see a therapist separately to do their own work safely.

Power fighting sometimes happens at the end of a relationship, and yet alternatively, coming in to a professional can make this unhappy situation the beginning of learning to be truly intimate.

 

 

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People have affairs for all kinds of reasons, depending on who they are and what’s going on in their lives. The important thing to remember is – it’s not true that their insufficient partner caused them to go to another for love, etc. It’s not  their partner’s fault. Being dissatisfied with one’s partner is a legitimate experience, and being unfaithful is one option, but it often turns out badly for all concerned.

If you want to heal your marriage, the unfaithful partner has to deeply understand the amount of damage that has been done to trust, and they have  to know what  being betrayed by your life partner really feels like. Saying your sorry, even terribly, terribly sorry, and that you won’t ever do this again,  isn’t enough. Once lied to, your partner has every reason to question what you are saying now. You have to demonstrate how sorry you really are, you have to show your partner how you have changed in tangible ways so that there is reason to believe what you are saying now. You have to hear what your partner needs from you in order to ever trust you again. Listening to what your betrayed partner wants from you and being very willing to do what ever you are asked is a demonstration of your truly being sorry.

There’s another piece to this problem – if someone has hurt you and you want to trust they won’t do it again,   hurt-er  the other has to understand why they did it. If they don’t fully understand why they acted this way, what’s to keep them from (having the same reasons and) doing it again?  The unfaithful person needs to learn what motivated them to be unfaithful and make whatever changes are needed so they won’t want, or be motivated, to do this again.

This is a complicated process and takes courage on the part of both couples. The hurt-er has to be able to say what they were feeling, and have the courage to take the risk of saying it.   Many people have affairs to escape  the way they feel around their partner, Where they may feel: inferior, not loveable, criticized, or just tolerated. They need to feel the opposite of this and go to someone else to receive positive regard.

The hurt-ee has to have the courage to hear this truth and not collapse. They have to be willing now to work on the marriage and realize they have some changing to do as well as the hurt-er, but not collapse into feeling they caused  the affair.  They can not be put into a one-down position. Both people need to meet each other honestly and realize they both have work to do to turn their relationship around. Sometimes the hurt is over powering and the marriage ends.  Sometimes the affair slips into the past as a wake up call to re-make the relationship into something better than it has ever been.

 

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Here is a very helpful tool to learn for a couple when  disagreements come. I  call it “Minding The Store”, as in, “Is anybody minding the store?”

“Minding the Store” is what is happening when one or the other person remembers to watch the process of what is going on between the two of you, and bring it to the other’s attention. That could sound like “” OH, we’re doing it again -we both need nurturing at the same time so neither of us is in a place to give it, and we are both getting piss-y.” Then, “Do you see it?”

If the couple has agreed to stop the conversation and step back together to look at their interaction at this point, without blaming, the results can be so helpful.  The task at hand is to own up to your needing nurturing, and maybe not asking for same very clearly, or whatever else you see about your contribution. And the other person also does this. Often this can bring on wry, cocked eyebrows or a light laughter, which is always helpful.

Suppose some one of you says  “Maybe we should take turns?” and  the other replies “I feel like a kindergartner, this is too silly.” “But I still want you to listen to me” “OK, lets take turns listening to each other.”  And so you do.

Problems magnify when no one is minding the store, and  that is perfectly understandable. This is your major support person, your life partner, and emotions run high.  Learning the techniques of watching your interaction, seeing it for what it is, and bringing it to the other’s attention is a very useful tool for couples.

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