In the beginning we believe we have found our other half, the person who completes us, who fills in the missing pieces. Time passes and we note gaps. The partner has some variations we did not expect. He or she does not always appreciate who we are, or understand our needs and accept our limitations. He or she does not always comfort us in our need. Our other half may resist, complain, withdraw. We both fall into mutual protest, or one of us protests while the other one flees. The worst is when both give up.
Counselling starts by addressing the habitual pattern of mutual hurt. Both partners play a role, and both could identify the deterioration of their interaction. Then they may respectfully suggest time out until they can resume the discussion more rationally. Treating each other respectfully takes thought, self-control and practice. Words can be destructive and may never be forgotten. We may speak to our loved-one in terms and tones we would never use with a stranger.
Communication and careful listening are key. Responsive listening, especially reflection of feelings, is the most helpful. Try to put yourself in his or her place. Try to hear his or her history, hurts, scars. You might well think and act differently in similar circumstances, but can you hear what makes him tick? “Getting it” completely is impossible. Trying counts for a lot.
- After the Affair (and sequels), by Janis Spring
- Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce . . . , by Abigail Trafford
- Divorce Busting, by Michelle Weiner-Davis
- Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix
- Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson
- Pairing, or The Intimate Enemy, by George Bach, Laura Torbet
- Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, by Bruce Fisher & Robert Alberti
- The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
- The New Rules of Marriage, by Terrence Real
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by Gottman and Silver
- Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum
- The High Conflict Couple, by Alan Fruzzetti and Marsha Linehan
- For Yourself, by Lonnie Barbach
- Ask Me . . Anything, and other books, by Dr. Marty Klein
- Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, by Dr. David Schnarch
- The Good Sex Guide, DVD of television series, directed by Martin Head and Mike Adams
- Controlling People, by Patricia Evans
- The Dance of Anger: a Woman’s Guide to Changing…Intimate Relationships, by Harriet Lerner
- Women Who Love Too Much, by Robin Norwood
- Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents, by William Ury