Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 60 of 167 
Next page End Contents 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65  

According to Orvis, Kelley and Butler (1976), during conflicts we
also become more self -protective, believing there were good reasons
(usually situational--"I just went along with the others") for whatever
we did. Therefore, when we start strongly disagreeing with others
about why we or they did something, the conflict is hard to resolve.
Each partner sees different causes. We tend to excuse ourselves but
believe that evil motives or bad attitudes--"you only care about
yourself"--motivate the person we are in conflict with. Being aware of
the irrationality of our own thought processes can bring some
rationality to the situation. See methods #3 and #8 in chapter 14.
Change your own thinking, and try to see and understand your
spouse's viewpoint. 
As discussed in chapter 9, once we start this kind of blaming or
psychological labeling of the other person, the relationship is in deep
trouble. For one thing, the next step is to conclude, "If this problem is
your fault, only you can change it." While you are viewing yourself as
totally blameless (probably untrue), you are also assuming you are
helpless and can't do anything about the situation (probably untrue).
Such attitudes only block change; try backing off, cooperating a little,
and making plans for change. 
Secondly, although we may complain later, bad-mouth them to
others, and sulk, we are likely to stop saying something to our spouse
about their disturbing behavior at the time it occurs. Seething silence
doesn't help. Example: your spouse's constant interruptions burn you
up but eventually you stop talking or walk away instead of saying,
"You're interrupting" or "I'll talk when you'll listen." Share your
feelings (tactfully, as with "I feel..." statements). Don't expect your
partner to read your mind. 
Thirdly, while "getting out of the way," being alone, and "keeping
your mouth shut" are very wise reactions sometimes, they are
mistakes if done all the time. Avoiding discussing conflicts and/or
denying there are problems builds the emotional distance between
spouses. If you don't talk about your feelings and thoughts, neither of
you have a chance to correct the trouble-causing misunderstandings of
the other. This self-protective approach (avoiding or stonewalling)
becomes self-defeating. Men tend to avoid discussing their
relationships. You must talk openly and calmly. 
Fourthly, each person thinks the other should "make the first move
to make up." Example: a couple goes to bed after an argument and
both want to make up but he thinks, "She's still mad; I'll wait until she
signals things are okay" and she thinks, "I'm not mad; I wish he'd
reach out; he's so stubborn and he's not very affectionate; that makes
me mad again." You can make the first move
Finally, the worst way to try to change a partner is to say, "You
have to change....or else!" The change demanded ("stop spending all
your time with those people") may not be the change wanted ("show
you love me "). Besides, ultimatums are resisted. Understanding the
Previous page Top Next page

« Back