COPING between one thing and another. The
COPING WITH HEART BREAKI.OVER VIEWII.METHODOLOGYIII. REASONS OF BREAKING UP IV.
PHASES ONE HAS TO GO THROUGH AFTER THE BREAKV.EFFECTS OF SEPARATIONVI. COPING STRATEGIESVII.
ANNEXESa.Respondents FormVIII. BIBLIOGRAPHYOVER VIEWWe hear about love all around us, in music and movies, on TV, in stories. If you look in the dictionary, they define love as a tender, warm feeling; warm liking; affection; attachment. Love is simply a choice we make when we find someone who makes us happy, and who we trust with our innermost thoughts and feelings. We hear that love will make us happy.
We hear that single people are lonely.We are told that if we are not part of a couple, we are not complete. We all want to be part of this thing called love.Okay, we get a boyfriend or girlfriend, now everything should be perfect. But, its not perfect, because life never is. It is easy to become disappointed.
Feelings can change. One person may decide to say good-bye. When that happens, the one left behind will feel rejected.Rejection means someone choosing between one thing and another. The one who doesnt get chosen is rejected.
This person who feels rejected thinks as if they are not good enough. It hurts. When the person you love decides to leave you, it is even more painful. Does rejection mean failure? No. The end of a relationship means that the boyfriend or girlfriend decided that s/he wanted a change in the path of their lives. The reasons for this are within the ex – not within the rejected person. No one is a less valuable person because their boyfriend or girlfriends feelings have changed.
The bad thing about getting dumped or abandoned is it costs us our self-esteem. We feel a full tidal wave of rejection bring us to our knees, sucking the wind out of our sails. We form an inner-hate and get caught in a self-destructive mode. We create within ourselves intense feelings of rejection, isolation, and a profound loss of love, acceptance, and control. When we are dumped it creates a grief that is far more intense than the loss of love through death. With death the person who has died has not consciously elected to withdraw their love for you. You get a sense of closure and finalization.
Death has no possibilities of changing its mind! But when we are dumped the person has made the decision to withdraw from you and desert you. They have rejected you, turned their back to you, and, often times, moved on to someone else. Getting ‘dumped’ hurts like hell. It sucker-punches the very air out of us and leaves us feeling alone, lost, and hopeless. We lose our very selves when the person we love makes the conscious decision to leave us.
The grief of being abandoned can quickly progress to extreme sadness, self doubt, insecurity, and fear. Abandonment drains our self-esteem. It can lead to depression, addictions, compulsions, and uncontrollable anxiety or panic attacks. In extreme cases, some are left with suicidal thoughts. If left unresolved, abandonment can interfere with – or even prevent – any healthy future relationships. Once in this cycle, we will often find ourselves abandoned over and over again, as we become either blocked from fully connecting to others, or struggle with extreme-attachment for fear of being abandoned again. We may accept abuse and infidelity, just to avoid feelings of abandonment.
Sometimes we remain in a panic-like state of obsessiveness and hyper-vigilance towards our abandoner, or inner focused on our own pain and hurt. We often carry with us feelings of being deserted, needy, and demoralized. Eventually, our lack of self-control makes us feel like a victim within our own creation, causing self hatred, harm, or injury. Curing the grief that surrounds you is to find happiness within you. Sounds impossible, but it isn’t. It is not only very possible, it has been there all along. If it weren’t you would have curled up in a ball at the foot of the one who left you, and died.
And, yes, you might have felt that way, but did you do it? No! Because you still know, buried deep inside of you, that your ex was not the be-all to your life. And how do I know that? Because you are here, reading this, looking for answers to your pain. Searching for help to mend your abandoned self! You have the courage and the desire to ‘continue on’.
You believe in you, you have faith in life, and you are aware of your capacity to love again. A new and better life is not only possible, not only probable, but a plain and simple fact. But right now, you just hurt. And you hurt bad. And you want to know why. Well..
.look at it this way. You loved someone. You loved them very much. And they abandoned you. You thought the world of them and they crushed your heart and stole your dreams.
Wow – so much power they have…to be able to inflict such heavy and massive destruction to your well-being. And with this ‘imposed’ power they become almost ‘God-like’ to you. You subconsciously fear this power, and by fearing it, the object of your power – your ex – actually becomes almost like an obsession to you.
You think about them all the time, You dream of them. They’re the first thought in your head when you wake and the last when you go to sleep. And this constant dwelling confuses you. You actually come to believe that you love them and need them far more than you actually do. And, what about the one who abandoned you? Here are some facts to ponder: Some abandoners often times feel powerful in the fact that they can and have inflicted so much emotional pain on someone. They feel almighty in the knowledge that they have, alone, created such extensive devastation. They might even feel a heightened sense of self-importance.
Sadly, their ego may be exaggerated as they witness either the begging and pleas, or the hopeless, lost agony coming from you. (Often abandoners will not openly admit to these feelings of triumph. Hiding these emotions, they will more often than not, tend to relay feeling of guilt or regret, either for causing the other person pain, or simply because they are ‘sorry that the relationship didn’t work out’. However, for many abandoners the guilt is very real.
To diminish their own guilt, and justify their decision to end the relationship, they will, often point the finger away from them, blaming the other person (you) for the breakup, or for the problems in the relationship. They will attempt to save their own face at all costs. Even the cost of you. They often come off as callous, heartless, or cruel to the ones they left behind. Many ‘dumpees’ have come up to me and asked, “How can they just move on so easily, and not hurt like I do? How can someone who claimed they loved me just two weeks ago, this week announce to the world that I am a neurotic bitch?” Let me point out that many who make the choice to leave and end a relationship do not set out directly to cause hurt and pain. Their main goal is to find happiness and personal fulfillment, not to directly cause hurt to someone they care about. REASONS FOR BREAKING UP Women have more complaints about their partners and marriages, compared to men Brehm, 1985).
Is this because women are more critical and want more or because men give less? I’d guess both. Women initiate the break up of dating more often than men. Although the underlying “causes” are unknown, these are the commonly stated marital problems (Weiten, 1986):1. Partners may have very different role expectations,. Make these decisions jointly, honestly, and openly, Research indicates, contrary to popular belief, that the wife’s working outside the home does not increase marital problems or harm the children’s development. 2.
Poor “communication ” is the most common complaint (68%) among couples seeking counseling. The average couple talk only 4 minutes per day! 3. Sexual problems (see end of chapter) occur in about 45% of the couples seeking counseling. But sex may not be the basic problem; you don’t want to make love if you are uptight, sad, or mad.
4. Sometimes couples drift apart. They seek different friends, develop new interests, grow in different directions.
When there are few common interests, it is a problem. 5. There are other common problems–jealousy, being taken for granted, unfaithfulness, criticism and nagging, bossiness, clinging dependency, domination, abuse, loss of love, self-centeredness, etc.
, etc. Don’t expect it to be easy; there are many challenging barriers to having a good relationship. A list of warning signs: less respect and more disappointment in the other, more anger-arguments, more negative criticism, more blaming, doing less together, feeling lonely or neglected, less sex, less trust, less joint decision-making, less sharing of thoughts and feelings, less helping, less touching. Pay attention to these problems as soon as they occur and get to the root of the problem. Destructive communication in a relationship Communication is, of course, important in a relationship . But, communication includes every message–every feeling, every desire, every thought that is conveyed to the other person.
Some communication is helpful, some is destructive. The most useful knowledge is knowing how to avoid the unhappy, harmful interactions. Seeing how happy and unhappy couples communicate differently might help. Several researchers have studied this and summarized the results (Brehm, 1985; Derlega, 1984; Gottman, 1979, 1994).
Gottman says our stereotype of a happy relationship is a couple who like each other, understand each other well, and settle disputes easily. Yet, some stable relationships do not fit our stereotype: some are volatile (fighting openly but making up passionately) and others carefully avoid conflicts, i.e.
they don’t “work things out” but agree to disagree (Gottman, 1994). Apparently happy couples have developed various ways of handling the inevitable conflicts, unhappy couples haven’t. Unhappy couples first criticize the partner’s behavior but that gradually evolves into attacking his/her personality which eventually degenerates into expressing abusive contempt. Naturally the attacked partner becomes defensive, perhaps by saying “it’s not my fault,” by feeling indignant and counter-attacking, or by completely withdrawing emotionally (stonewalling).
Both the attacks, usually by women, and the defensive refusal to deal with the issues, usually by men, are big parts of the problem. Men, in unhappy relationships especially, do not listen to the verbal messages nor pick up on their wives’ non-verbal messages. Unhappy couples frequently just exchange hostile accusations (“You don’t care about me–only about yourself”) whereas happy couples may argue, even yell, but would then explore the topic more (“Are you really as unconcerned with this problem as you look?”), ending up resolving the difficulty.
This is a summary: Poor communicatorsGood communicatorsA steady flow of criticism & putdowns or blamingAccentuate the positive and the hopes for the futureNeither partner feels cared for and listened to; too busy defending selfBoth partners try to stay calm, see the other’s point, and show respect, look for a compromiseGet off the topic, find no solutions (throwing all kinds of complaints & insults at the partner)Stay on topic, be specific about the problem rather than expressing contempt, find a solution both can accept”Mindread” (see ch. 9) and “psychoanalyze” the partner; name-call, show contempt by mocking, rolling eyes, insulting them, Yes-but (see ch. 9) and counter-attack; do a lot of interruptingListen carefully, give empathy and positive responses, assume responsibility for your own feelings (“I” statements), overlook the insults and focus on the complaint. State tentative opinions, not absolute certaintiesShow a determination not to “give in,” anger, and, eventually, deadly silenceUnderstand and forgive each other, both give in about 75% of the timeRespond to criticism with defensiveness, such as denying everything, making excuses, charging he/she is emotionalRespond to criticism as useful information (not an insult), a little empathy will work miracles.Just not responding–tuning them out–when you are fed up with the attacks: stonewallingRealize that stonewalling is an insult; it says you are contemptible and not worth listening to. You must listen for the pain (and hear the unspoken plea to improve the relationship)Gottman found that in most relationships the female is the one who tries to maintain the relationship.
So, when she is unhappy, she complains and gets emotional. Men don’t like negative emotions, so they try to downplay the emotions and rationally solve the problem…
or men withdraw. His withdrawal makes the female even madder. Sometimes she will suggest a truce or some solution, but often in the heat of battle both go on “emotional overload,” feeling contempt for each other.
The couple gradually comes to think of and remember their marriage negatively. The failing relationship typically dies a slow death when the male shows little understanding, gets irate, and starts hard-core blaming (“You’re full of hate” or “You’re so stupid”), which makes it hard for the female to give in or compromise. Finally, she grows bitter too and the relationship fails. Fortunately, if caught soon enough, the warring couple can learn to increase the positive feelings and actions and decrease the negative. Gottman says the main task is not to solve (or stop) every argument but to stop the escalating bitterness. So good communication skills are needed, especially “I” statements and empathy responses.
Gender differences in communicating are discussed in chapter 9 (Gray, 1993; Tannen, 1990). In general, women are more socially sensitive than men. They are better listeners, more empathic in some ways, and give more comforting (warm, caring) responses.
On the other hand, young boys and adolescent males are more likely than same-aged girls to act on their empathic feelings for others, i.e. to give concrete help (Brehm, Powell & Coke, 1984). Furthermore, some evidence indicates that married men, when interacting with their wives, do more “good communicating” than married women, including showing concern for the wife’s feelings, reassuring their wives, seeking forgiveness, suggesting compromises, and remaining calm and problem-oriented when arguing (Raush, Barry, Hertel, & Swain, 1974). Actually, both sexes need to be good at detecting nonverbal cues.
Early in a romantic relationship, the ability of women to read a males nonverbal cues seems to be important in building intimacy. Later, during periods of conflict, the woman’s nonverbal skills and control of the male seem to be critical in avoiding destructive fights (Brehm, p. 209, 1985). On the negative side, Tannen (1990) says women show more strong negative emotions during a conflict. They are more demanding, using threats, “guilt trips,” and personal attacks to persuade. They send more double messages: smile and say, “You’re terrible!” This research also suggests women more often reject their husbands’ attempts at reconciliation. In another study, White (1989) says that dissatisfied spouses in troubled relationships (both men and women) attack, threaten, and walk out during fights, but the difference is that women are more open to making up, accepting the partner’s plans, showing concern, and appealing to fairness.
There seems to be a difference of opinion about which sex makes up first. I suspect “making up” is a function of how angry the person is, the seriousness of the issue, general satisfaction with the relationship, more than a gender difference. There is some general agreement among women about men, however. Their major complaint, bordering on calling males socially retarded, is that men are noncommunicative and lack emotional responsiveness.
Men avoid interactions when dissatisfaction is or may be expressed. Could it be males’ way of avoiding uncontrolled anger that would be regretted? Otherwise, how do we square this accusation of inaction with the evidence in chapter 7 of intense action by males involving verbal and physical abuse? We probably need to make a distinction between what is called “conflicts” and the verbal or physical abuse situations. Perhaps quiet inaction and violent verbal or physical explosions are just two separate steps on the escalator from irritation to bitterness. In a very general sense and in milder disagreements, the sexes seem to be at odds: women give more emotional responses and want 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 relationship 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. As emphasized, 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 we can reduce our anger.PHASES ONE HAS TO GO THROUGH AFTER BREAK UPAccording to the book, The Complete Idiots Guide To Dating, there are nine stages of rejection that almost all dumpees must go through. The pain may be awful, but each stage is part of the healing process.
The stages may not follow in an exact order, but they will all be experienced. These phases are all healthy ways to recover from a breakup.The Denial Phase: This cant be happening. During this stage, people mayfind themselves waiting for the phone to ring and not believing that the relationship is over. Some people may go through feelings of worthlessness and obsession.
These people are ones who lack coping skills. Solution: Acknowledge your feelings about what has happened. Accept, but do not dwell on shame and embarrassment, and all the shouldal/woulda/couldas.The Bargaining Phase: Driving yourself crazy, thinking that, If I get my hair cut, or If I dont call her for a week, s/he will change his/her mind. Solution: Accept that its over.
The Loneliness Phase: Feeling as if no one understands or cares. Some people will jump at the first person who shows the slightest interest in them, just for the fact of proving that they can still get someone to want them. Solution: Surround yourself with people who do care, and those who openly say so.
Remind yourself often that you are loved.The Heartbreak Phase: Feeling like your heart is really breaking. You may even feel pain in your chest, or want to throw up when you think of the person or see the person with someone else. Solution: You can go on. If youre feeling really bad, snap your fingers to interrupt the thought.The Blame Phase: Pointing the finger at you or at your ex for what each of you did wrong. Solution: Decide that neither of you are at fault and both of you are responsible for the breakup.
The Depression Phase: Feeling sad, worthless, and foolish. You have trouble eating and sleeping and you may imagine youll never love again. Solution: Allow yourself to feel pain but dont wallow in self-pity.
Keep busy with exercise or projects.The Anger Phase: Feeling furious for being rejected. Solution: Experience the anger, but dont exaggerate it. Dont let yourself become bitter.The Acceptance Phase: Finally believing that it is over. You no longer expect your ex to call and you begin to feel at peace. The Healing Phase: Getting your life back.
Ready to meet new people andyoure no longer dwelling over your ex.EFFECTS OF SEPARATIONThe Wrong MovesJust as there are ways to properly cope with ending a relationship, there are also unhealthy ways that some of us are drawn to do.In trying to cope with a breakup, during the loneliness phase, many use manipulative methods to require personal power (the freedom of choice and movement).
Some of these manipulative methods are by going through their best friend and playing detective (is he seeing anyone? is she still upset?), threatening incapacitations (I wont be able to concentrate, do go or youll make me depressed), making impossible promises (Ill do whatever you ask, If I ever lose my temper, just snap your fingers and Ill calm down) – your ex doesnt believe these, you dont believe these, so dont say them. – and finally, by threatening revenge like, showing up with another girl at a party, physical violence, etc. A personal example of this is a friend who well call Christine. When school started, Christine was dating Tom who eventually left her to date their mutual friend, Megan. Christine was extremely upset and she told Tom she would get back at him. She told him she would tell his mom hed been doing drugs. Obviously, Tom got angry and told Christine to stay awayfrom his family.
As it turned out, Christine never followed through on her threats. They were just an underhanded ploy to make Tom upset. This is not a mature way of handling a breakup, which is true for most teenage heartbreak. Another incorrect method of recovery is harassment due to obsession. The harasser is the person who, for example, is obsessed with driving by the exs house or place of work, calls the other just to hear his or her voice and tries to cover it up with lies like, I was just in the neighborhood, and I think I dialed the wrong number…
The severity of the obsession is measured by the time that is spent on it, the degree of stress it causes, lack of control, and interference in ones life and responsibilities. In severe cases, medications can help. As many as one in forty Americans have some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Along with harassment, physical abuse is yet another extremely wrong way to handle rejection. Physical abuse occurs in more than one quarter of all teen relationships. It includes such things as slapping, kicking, hair pulling, shaking, and arm twisting.
You may be at risk if your partner:is jealous and possessivecontrols you by giving ordersscares you (or if youre unsure of his/her reactions to certain things)threatens youpressures you for sexgets too serious about the relationship too fastabuses drugs or alcoholhas done things your friends and family warn you aboutPeople who are being abused are advised to avoid all possible contact with their furious ex. They are advised to leave at once, no matter what their partner says. The abusees should talk to someone outside the situation, and definitely get the help they need. People who are abusing are urged to seek help and break off all contact with the person theyre abusing.
Extreme depression cases due to heartbreak may also lead to physical violence towards oneself. The teenage suicide rate is up nearly 200% in the past twenty years. Teens seem to jump into their relationship too fast, and often mistake infatuation for love. When a breakup occurs, some teens feel their world is caving in on them and dont know what to do. Teens must realize that no matter how bad things seem, everyone goes through it and everyone gets over it.
All of the above methods are completely wrong ways to regain personal power. When attempting to let go, one should break contact and avoid hanging around places where you know he or she will be. You should accept that its over, stop asking why, realize and accept your emotions, decide to let go of the past by staying away from emotional traps, by learning from your mistakes and by looking forward to the future.WAYS TO COPE THROUGH A SEPARATIONLots of things can cause heartbreak. Sometimes you might experience the pain of a romantic relationship that ends before you’re ready. It might be because you love someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Or maybe you’ve lost a friend or relative or someone else you care about. The causes may be different, but the feeling of loss is the same – whether it’s the loss of something real or the loss of something you only hoped for. People describe heartbreak as a feeling of heaviness, emptiness, and sadness. Although poets have written about the pain of heartbreak for thousands of years, when it’s happening to you, you may feel like no one else in the world has ever felt the same. Or maybe you feel like every sad song was written just for you and your situation! If you’re recovering from a broken heart, there are things you can do to lessen the pain. Here are some tips that might help: Share your feelings. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust may help you to feel better. That could mean simply talking with a friend or family member. For some, letting the tears flow seems to help them heal faster. For others, simply hanging out together and doing things you normally enjoy, like seeing a movie or going to a concert, can be comforting. Somehow just being with someone who cares about you can make things feel a little better. Take good care of yourself. A broken heart can be very stressful. But don’t let the rest of your body get broken, too. Get lots of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly to minimize stress and depression and give your self esteem a boost. Remember what’s good about you. Sometimes people with broken hearts start to blame themselves for what’s happened. They may be really down on themselves, exaggerating their faults as though they did something to deserve the unhappiness they’re experiencing. If you find this happening to you, nip it in the bud! Remind yourself of your good qualities, and if you can’t think of them because your broken heart is clouding your view, get your friends to help you remember what’s good about you. Keep yourself busy. Sometimes this is difficult when you’re coping with sadness and grief, but it really helps. This is a great time to redecorate your room or try a new hobby. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about what happened, it just means you should focus on other things, too. Give yourself time. It takes time for sadness to go away. Almost everyone thinks they won’t feel normal again, but the human spirit is amazing – and the heart almost always does heal after a while. But how long will that take? That depends on what caused your heartbroken feeling – and on how you deal with loss and how quickly you tend to bounce back from things. Mending a broken heart can take from a couple of days to many weeks – and sometimes even months. While we’re at it, we might as well mention a few things that won’t help. Like getting angry (or desperate) and trying to hurt yourself or someone else, drinking or taking drugs to feel better or become numb, or locking yourself up in a dark room. Sometimes, though, the sadness is so deep – or lasts so long – that a person may need some extra support to deal with a broken heart. For someone who is not starting to feel better after a few weeks or who continues to experience signs of depression, What makes breaking up so traumatic? Often, there are many unresolved emotions, unfinished business, and unanswered questions. If you see an ex too soon, you risk triggering those unresolved feelings and fantasies, which will prevent you from moving on. This may not be easy if you attend the same school. In which case you should try your best to avoid the places you know s/hell be and dont purposely meet up with them. But when the time is right, such reunions can also be a valuable opportunity to work through the unfinished business. Sometimes youll discover that all of the feelings of unworthiness or rejection that youve been harbouring are overblown. Such realizations allow you to move on to new relationships.Dont rush a reunion with your ex – give yourself plenty of time for the wounds to heal. When you are both ready, get together and review what happened. Explain the things that hurt you, what you wanted, what you feared, and what you miss. With distance and a fresh perspective, any lingering pain may ease, and a new love may emerge. Many of us entertain the fantasy of seeing an ex and having him or her say, You were right all along, take me back! This would restore your feeling that you and your love mattered, but it actually only happens in a few cases so you shouldnt let your hopes skyrocket. If all of these steps are both followed and avoided, the dumped individual wouldve gone through all the tearful, sorrowful, raging, self-blaming and forgiving feelings that surface depending on ones coping skills and compromise the emotional progression of ending a relationship, and theyve come a long way towards their emotional healing. On The Other Hand…Now, weve concluded that teens can sometimes overreact when theyve been dumped (suicide, depression, obsession, etc). As compared to adult breakups which tend to be more civilized on average, teens really have no reason to be severely depressed due to the fact that they have their whole life ahead of them. Adults on the other hand, have much more to worry about than teenagers. For example, adults have to worry about taking care of finances that were previously shared, the effect the breakup will have on their career, and how their children will react. In most cases, they know what love is (most cases) and arent so immature about things. Sure, theyll be upset, but not to the suicidal point as teens too often are.Because children look to their parents to keep them safe, the lack of a family member could heighten their sense of vulnerability. The parent who remains with the child or children has to assume the role of the other parent in the financial, physical, and emotional aspects.From a personal viewpoint, adults have a lot more to worry about than teenagers do so logically, they should be the ones overreacting, but theyre not. It definitely all boils down to the teenage self-esteem issue. Its way up when theyve got a boyfriend and when a breakup occurs, it plummets down and they lose control of their emotions. This is when the wrong moves come into play. If there was only a way to ensure high self-esteem in all of todays teenagers we wouldnt have to worry about teens being pushed to the limit by their overwhelming emotions.Resolving conflicts As we have just seen, we have a choice: we can “understand” our partner or we can blame him/her; how we view and explain the other person’s behavior is crux of the emotional problem. And, how we explain or understand our situation, influences how we try to change those problems. Happy couples tend to accentuate the partner’s good traits and motives as causes of his/her positive behavior; his/her negative behavior is seen as rare and unintentional or situational. The happy partner, thereby, reinforces his/her partner’s good traits. In contrast, unhappy couples overlook the positive and emphasize the partner’s bad personality traits and negative attitudes as the causes of relationship problems (Brehm, 1985, pp. 289-297; Fincham & O’Leary, 1983). The partner’s bad behavior is seen as frequent (“it happens all the time”), deliberate (“they know I hate it”), and wide ranging (“it effects everything we do”). Obviously, such mental explanations (attributions) are going to cause trouble and, especially, when conflicts arise, because we become much more concerned about understanding someone’s actions when tensions mount. When breaking up, many of you have probably experienced a very intense need to understand why, to explain what happened. Perhaps we are looking for some way to handle the problem. Maybe we are just hoping that if we understand the situation, the agony will go away. But, if within our relationship our “understanding” has become intensely negative and hostile, our view of things must change. 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. Change your own thinking, and try to see and understand your partners viewpoint. 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 reasons, the meaning behind the demand for change, will facilitate change. Example: nagging your spouse to clean out the sink and put the cap back on the toothpaste tube isn’t likely to work, but he/she may change if you honestly explain that the messy toothpaste tube by the dirty sink reminds you of your drunken, abusive, sloppy father who made you clean the bathroom after he vomited. People who understand each other accommodate each other better. Changes are needed in both spouses, not just one. Remember from chapter 6 on depression that our optimism about changing the future depends on whether we think the causes of the unpleasant interactions are changeable or permanent. Uncontrollable causes are often permanent personality traits or characteristics (of you or the partner), such as selfishness, hostility, need for attention, stupidity and so on. These are an angry person’s favorite explanations. Or, uncontrollable causes could be unavoidable situations, such as an illness. Controllable causes are temporary behaviors or circumstances, such as “having a bad day,” “I approached it wrong,” “it was an oversight” and so on. You can do something about the controllable causes; that’s hopeful. Even being self-blaming can be hopeful if you feel the power to change yourself is in your hands. So, thinking in terms of controllable causes may lead to hope and more effort to improve the marriage. Whereas believing the causes are uncontrollable leads to despair and giving up on the relationship, “I could never stay with such an awful person.” You can control how you think. Awareness of these interpersonal dynamics can be helpful (Hendrix,1990; Doherty, 1982; see chapters 4, 6, 7 & 9). If we understood others as well as ourselves, if we were as generous with our positive interpretations of the causes of their behavior as we are with our behavior, there would be less marital discord to suffer through. Not only must we change our “attributional style” from negative (blaming) to positive (see the good and understand the bad) but we must at the same time change our behavior (decrease the hate and increase the tolerance). This is no easy assignment to carry out in the midst of a heated emotional conflict, but try to remember the above points. When we disagree with another person there are only three options: fight it out, withdraw, or negotiate a compromise (see method #10 in chapter 13 for resolving conflicts). Look for compromises that offer hope. Be understanding. Plan together and carry out cognitive and behavioral changes. Accentuate the positive in your loved one. It is important to “debrief” after a fight and learn from it (Wile, 1995); unfortunately, most couples avoid talking about the fight. We can learn to find solutions and get along. BIBLIOGRAPHY and RELATED LITERATUREBaumeister, R. F. & Wotman, S. R. (1992). Breaking hearts: The two sides of unrequited love . New York: Guilford PressBloomfield, H. H., Colgrove, M. & McWilliams, P. (1977). How to survive the loss of love . New YorkKingma, D. R. (1987). Coming apart: Why relationships end and how to live through the ending of yours . Berkeley, CA: Conari PressLubetkin, B. & Oumano, E. (1991, 1993). Bailing out: The sane way out of a doomed relationship & survive with hope and self-respect . New York: Simon and SchusterTriere, L. (1988, 1993). Learning to leave . New York: Warner Books. Vaughan, D. (1986). Uncoupling: How relationships come apart . New York: Vintage Books. Vedral, J. (1993). Get rid of him . New York: Warner Books. Wanderer, Z. & Cabot, T. (1978). Letting go . New York: Dell Publishing Wanderer,