By Ellen F. Wachtel PhD JD, Paul L. Wachtel PhD
Read Online or Download The Heart of Couple Therapy: Knowing What to Do and How to Do It PDF
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Extra resources for The Heart of Couple Therapy: Knowing What to Do and How to Do It
What the wife is really asking for are statements that actually make her feel good about herself. If he had said, “You look great in that dress,” rather than “The dress is nice,” or “You have great taste,” or “Everything looks good on you,” it would be about her, not the dress. And similarly, it may be true that he says, “Yes, of course I love you” (not spontaneously, but when asked), but the whole exchange is not giving the wife the little ego boost that she is craving. . (E. F. 21 as I noted earlier, criticism erodes love.
One of the most important things I learned early on in my training is that asking people to stop doing something is much more effective when it occurs in conjunction with focusing on and engaging some alternative behavior. It is far easier to do something different than to just halt habitual behavior. Thus, an important aspect of breaking the vicious circle of criticism and withdrawal is to heighten each person’s awareness of the aspects of their spouse’s personality that they feel positively about and to help them find comfortable ways to express whatever positives they find.
But even when that is not an issue, many partners do not feel emotionally safe with one another. They don’t regard their spouse as someone whom they can reliably go to for comfort and support. Sometimes this is because there have been one or more serious attachment injuries from which the person has never fully recovered. And, of course, sometimes one or both parties have an insecure attachment style deriving from early childhood which gets reenacted in the relationship. 27 derive from attachment styles, can be greatly mitigated by changes in dayto-day interactions.