Psychological Self-Help

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stupid, etc. and often trying to get our partner to treat us like our
parent(s) did. To further defend ourselves we become insensitive,
numbed and withdrawn. Firestone's "Voice Therapy" helps you become
aware of the cruel, nasty, intense things the voice says about you,
your partner, and others. Awareness of the voice sometimes brings
back memories of childhood that explain our current feelings. The task
then is to plan ways to change one's harmful behavior, expectations,
fears, and prejudices, so the relationship can grow positively. It is not
an easy therapy and may require a therapist but the book is easily
read and understood. 
Lori Gordon (Gordon & Frandsen, 1993) has developed a 120-hour
class for teaching intimacy skills to people who haven't gotten what
they wanted from marriage and, subsequently, stopped confiding,
walled themselves off, found other ways to spend their time, etc. The
course has been shown to reduce anxiety and anger, increase marital
satisfaction, and improve self-esteem. Her approach is to encourage
confiding to each other, and from this comes self-understanding,
insight into the history of the expectancies or emotional baggage we
bring into a marriage, mellowing of one's negative feelings towards the
partner, feelings of security, and intimacy. The course teaches the
skills of open, honest communication; listening, empathy, and
forgiveness (see chapters 7 and 13). Much of the confiding is about
their personality and emotional development in the context of their
family's emotional history, i.e. what were we taught about ourselves,
love, sex, morals, unspoken family rules, confiding, trust, intimacy,
etc. Eventually, we find that the source of our marital
misunderstandings and negative expectations is our history, not our
spouse. Here are some exercises Gordon recommends: 
Daily Temperature Reading --at the same time every day, hold
hands and (a) express appreciation for something your spouse
has done, (b) share some information about your mood or
activities, (c) ask about something you don't understand
("Wonder why I got so upset about the phone bill?" or "Why
were you quiet last night?"), (d) request some change without
blaming the spouse ("Please call if you won't be home by 5" or
"Please don't wear the pants with the rip in the crotch any
more"), and (e) express some hope ("I hope we can go hiking
this weekend"). 
Bonding exercise --when you are upset with your spouse, ask
for some bonding. (a) Lie down and hold each other. (b)
Describe what is bothering you (your partner just listens), be
specific. (c) Share your memories of the past that seem
connected with your emotional reaction to the spouse ("Your
having lunch with ____. made me think of my first
wife's/husband's affair..."). (d) Tell your spouse what you
needed to have happen in your history that would have reduced
your being upset now. (Maybe your spouse can say or do, at
this time, what you needed long ago.) (e) Discuss how the
past--the inner child, old hurts, Papa's rules, unfinished
business, etc.--has a powerful effect on you today. (f) Plan
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