The Boomerang Relationship Part 3

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The Boomerang Relationship Part 3

Post  oldersister on Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:50 pm

...continued

Look at your own passive style of avoiding conflict. Watch how you
blow off the important things and blow up at small things. Own up when
you use passivity to avoid conflict. If he throws it back at you say,
'This is not about you turning it back on me when I'm honest about my
own shortcomings. We are trying to identify patterns that are
unhealthy for us. Notice your need to blame me when I'm trying to be
straight.'


Make an agreement of 'No trash talk' when arguing. Stick to one
subject. Don't allow the argument to go off track. (This is not about
___, we're discussing ___) Agree to take time out to cool down and
return to the topic. Learn stress management techniques to handle your
anxiety during the time out period. Read articles on fair fighting to
ways to resolve conflict.


Encourage him to make decisions--accept whatever you can during this
time of building his confidence about committing himself on small
matters. Whenever possible be noncritical of his actions. When you
must criticize, be critical of his behavior, not him. Wild
recriminations and threats only make him retreat more to his cave of
isolation and anger.


When he doesn't follow through and says, 'I can't,' remind him that it
means he won't because he doesn't feel like doing what is asked. Ask
him to be more honest and say that he doesn't want to do what you
asked. Point out the lack of effort when he is unwilling to do
something boring or disagreeable. Make fewer demands on him and only
ask for what you absolutely need.


Point out how he distorts the truth and discounts problems that he
creates. Use gentle, direct confrontation. Don't humor, placate or
make excuses for his behavior. Challenge double messages and ambiguous
plans. Point out his indirect, non answers and sitting on the fence
statements. Pin him down on his confusing the issue to save his skin.
When he says, 'You know how I say things I don't mean.' Confront him
with 'How do I know which half? When you give me mixed messages I get
so confused that I don't feel loving and close to you.'


Point out his victim messages. He may beat himself up first so you
will feel sorry for him and won't punish him. Show how his self-
defeating talk clouds the issue of his not completing his
responsibilities. Praise him in areas he does do well often to build
up his self-confidence. Stress your commitment to the relationship and
how it could be good for both if the two of you work out a process of
dealing with conflict. Discuss his fears of being dependent upon you
and how that's related to rebellion. Watch how you invade his privacy
and undermine his decision making. Ask him how what you could do to
make him feel safer. If he refuses to acknowledge his fears, remind
him that we all have fears and fear is constructive in that it helps
us learn about ourselves. Tell him that the mature person faces his
fears rather than denying them. The only way to deal with fear is to
face it--fears faced can be overcome. Tell him, 'The next time you
feel like you are being swallowed up, just watch your feelings. Face
them. Sit with them and they will pass.'


When he blames you for not trusting him or says he can't trust you,
point out how he has betrayed your trust in the past. Tell him trust
must be earned and you would like greater trust between the two of
you. Ask him for a plan to build trust (doing what he says he will do,
stop saying yes when he knows he won't get around to doing what you
want, etc.)


If he flares up and blames you when you give information, ask him to
look at his feeling put down when given information. Point out his
pattern of needing to sulk and how that makes the problems worse. Tell
him, 'I feel the hostility in your walling yourself off. There is
nothing we can't talk about. We can work this out if we keep it on the
table. Let's talk.' Point out the positive benefits of feedback and
criticism as something he can learn about himself. Be willing to
receive feedback and criticism yourself. Redefine the relationship as
being open to hearing unpleasant things that will promote positive
change. Together, learn ways to cope with the unpleasant feelings that
being criticized brings up.


Call his attention to every attempt to manipulate or control you
through anger. His anger is expressed through withdrawal, sarcasm,
irritability and intimidation. Tell him, 'People who are constantly
angry have a lot of fear. Let's try to figure out what pushes your
anger buttons to bring our power struggles out in the open. Show how
anger unexpressed may go underground and fester.


Take an anger management workshop together to learn to express
uncomfortable feelings in safe, appropriate ways. Bring his submerged
rage out into the open by saying, 'I sensed some hostility in how you
dealt with this issue. Could we explore this together?' Convince him
it's okay to be angry Allow him to be more direct. Learn tactics of
fair fighting and using anger in constructive ways.


Learn to deal with your own anger in appropriate ways. Observe your
anger reactions, which fuel his determination to out wit you with
passivity. Nagging and reopening the subject make things worse. Drop
it and move on. Remember that the incorrect expression of anger is at
the root of both his and your issues. Your choice daily is to state
your anger in direct, firm, fair ways.


Challenge the silent treatment by saying 'When you refuse to talk with
me, I get upset. Both of us angry is poison for our relationship. When
you don't talk to me, I make wild assumptions that further distance
us. We are two intelligent people who can talk this out. What do we
really want in our relationship--angry silence or problem solving?'
State consequences when he refuses to negotiate and compromise. Get a
reality check from someone you trust on options for consequences.
Follow through on consequences.


Ask for compromises as a way for the relationship to win. State your
compromise, ask him for his. Insist on his making an offer to resolve
the problem if he doesn't like your ideas. Keep the focus on problem
solving. Point out that true partnerships work with each other as
focused allies working on the issue. Sing the Beatle song, 'You see it
your way, I see it my way, we can work it out. We can work it out!'
Demonstrate how his nonclosure of a chronic problem and his
noninvolvement affects him, you and the relationship. Keeping pushing
the concept that the two of you can overcome any problem.


Don't dwell on disappointment. Don't take his refusal personally--see
it as learned behavior, which he uses to avoid confrontation. Learn
stress management techniques to deal with your own hurt and sense of
betrayal. Take a meditation or yoga class to learn deep breathing to
deal with stress. Learn to observe your own disappointment rather than
wallowing in it.


Take courses on couples communication. Go into marriage counseling
with someone who understands this passive aggressive man--angry wife
dynamic. If he refuses, get help in understanding your own need to
continue in an unhappy relationship.


Take responsibility for your peace of mind. Get your own life.


If you are expending much time and energy in relationship damage
repair then you need to face some hard questions. Honestly ask
yourself, 'Am I seeking intimacy from a man who is incapable of
closeness? Am I expecting cooperation and compromise from a man who
cannot give it? Is this man workable? Is he putting energy into
behavior change or does he put his effort into avoiding his problems?'
If the above suggestions don't work and you are constantly upset and
raging at him, take a good look at your need to live with conflict. If
you have done all you can do to correct the situation with no avail
and it is affecting your health, consider leaving. Or accept that
things will not change and try live a happy life anyway.


Perhaps the hardest skill in life for all of us is to deal with
arguments and conflict in productive ways. It's hard to be straight
and acknowledge our irritation, frustration, anger and hostility. Yet
dealing with conflict up front is a challenge that can increase self-
esteem and help us lead healthier lives.


Most of us didn't learn how to settle disagreements from our parents
and very few of us take a course in conflict resolution and problem
solving. Investing some time and energy in anger management and safe
anger expression will pay off in benefits tenfold. In the long run,
how the man works out his conflicts about his dependency needs and
misdirected anger and how the woman learns to counteract passive
aggressive behavior determines the success of their relationship.


Straight communication is where it's at in having a happy life. In a
mature relationship both partners interrupt their aggressive and
passive aggressive stances and deal with each other in direct ways.
Straight communication brings out a depth of intimacy that is
comforting and nurturing for both.

oldersister
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