Psychological Self-Help

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an emotional response back. Men give more informational,
unemotional responses and want practical, constructive, rational
responses back. Neither response is bad, so if both sexes could learn
to give both kinds of responses, we might be on the right track to
improving understanding and relations between the sexes (see
Tannen, 1990; Gray, 1993). Other skills would help too. 
"Communication" is often given rather glibly as the solution to
marital problems. It is no cure all; people who hate each other often
communicate very well. One might ask, "Which comes first the poor
communication or the resentment?" I'd say anger comes first most of
the time. A husband once told me about coming home and
commenting to his wife that a bill for $350 had come to his office,
which was unusual because most bills came to their home. The next
morning his wife, clearly miffed, said the bill didn't have to be paid for
30 days, not immediately as he had nastily implied the night before.
What the husband had considered a simple comment about getting a
bill was seen by the wife as a critical attack. When he defensively tried
to explain himself, she said, "You are unconscious of how hostile you
are." He walked away thinking, "She is just taking her guilt about
over-spending out on me, what a bitch!" In this case, the wife's anger
resulted in her mind-reading, psychologizing, and angry
communication. Without the underlying, stored up anger, the
interaction wouldn't have happened (we don't know what or who
originally caused the anger). 
In other instances, the communication may, in fact, be minimal,
and that causes anger. Lillian Rubin (1976) described a typical working
class family. The husband may think he shows his love--he married
her, works hard, comes home right after work, is faithful, and wants
sex 3 or 4 times a week. The wife doesn't feel loved, however. She
wants to talk more, to have more fun together, and to be affectionate
without sex. She doesn't want to nag. She loses interest in sex. She
feels mad. He feels rejected. Both say, "He/she just doesn't
understand me" which is true. Had they communicated, it could have
been different. 
As emphasized in chapter 9, there are many communication skills
that can help a strained relationship. We can learn to listen better and
be more assertive instead of hostile; we can improve our social skills
by role playing and learning to use "I" statements and empathy
responses; we can check out our hunches, fight fairly, and
negotiate compromises (see chapter 13); we can reduce our anger
(see chapter 7). Encounter groups and marriage enrichment groups
emphasize communication. There are books specifically written for
improving couples' communication (Notarius & Markman, 1993;
Tannen, 1990; Gray, 1993; Gottman, et al., 1976; Strayhorn, 1977;
Goodman & Esterly, 1988). Many other books document the value of
good communication skills in marriage; they advocate these same
methods (Austin, 1976; Bach & Deutsch, 1970; Bach & Wyden, 1976;
Chaikin & DevLaga, 1976; Charney, 1972; Ellis & Harper, 1975;
Gallagher, 1975; McCary, 1975; Mace & Mace, 1974; Powell, 1974;
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