Financial Abuse in Marriage – 7 Tell-Tale Signs and Ways to Deal with It

Source: Financial Abuse in Marriage – 7 Tell-Tale Signs and Ways to Deal with It

By Rachael Pace, Expert Blogger Verified Marriage & Family Therapist Approved By Angela Welch, LMFT

Financial Abuse in a Marriage

The scenario of financial abuse in marriage is all too common and all too chilling. But, what is financial abuse in a marriage?

According to financial abuse definition, it translates into one partner exercising control over the other partner’s access to financial resources, which diminishes the abused partner’s capacity to be financially self-sufficient and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.

A partner in an unhealthy marriage attempts to assert control by taking overall assets. The underlying intent of the financially abusive partner is clear: keep the spouse from having the means to leave the union.

When one spouse creates a situation in which the other spouse does not have access to liquid assets, financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, is in play.

Financial abuse is a very sick dynamic in a marriage.

Every expenditure is aggressively accounted for. Purchases at grocery stores and other venues are vigorously tracked, with the “buyer” given just enough money to complete the task.

Other expenditures like health care expenses, clothing, and the like are discouraged. If a partner does not comply with these rigid demands, there is a “price” to pay.

Let’s be clear as we begin to talk about spousal financial abuse and delve deep into the dynamics of a financially abusive relationship.

Financial bullying in marriage is a subset of emotional abuse and can be just as corrosive as physical abuse.

Any time the need for absolute financial control in marriage undergirds the actions of our intimate partners, there is a reason for concern.

Financial abuse by a spouse is a silent weapon in a relationship and comes with serious consequences for the marriage.

By taking stock of the early warning signs of financial abuse in the marriage, you can find ways to escape the trap of money abuse in marriage.

Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of financial abuse in relationships, and consider some ways to counter economic abuse in marriage.

The obvious signs of financial abuse in marriage by husband or wife

1. Denial of access

If your partner does not provide you with free access to your money, this is a cause for concern.

While marital assets come from a variety of streams, they are marital assets. Not being able to access these funds when the need arises is a significant red flag.

2. Intense monitoring of spending

A spouse that requires a detailed expense report of marital finances, receipts, and anecdotal descriptions of your spending is a spouse with pronounced control issues. This hawk-eyed approach is one of the key financial abuse signs.

Further, requiring that you remit every penny of change after expenditure is an area of concern. Monitoring is compounded by the advent of digital accounts.

Because digital interfaces afford consumers “Real-Time” monitoring of financial transactions and balances, the scrutiny from the one perpetrating financial abuse in marriage can be even more pronounced.

These are just some of the glaring financial abuse in marriage facts.

3. Anger with spending that benefits the abused one

Anger with spending that benefits the abused one

If you spend money on yourself for clothing, entertainment, food and the like and your partner goes nuclear, you have a problem.

There is nothing wrong with engaging in self-care and spending a little bit of money to make it possible.

Gauge the reaction of your partner when you report an expenditure. Is he furious? Run!

Also watch:

4. Your partner gives you an allowance

You are not a child “earning your keep” or attempting to curry some favor with your intimate partner.

It’s not okay for your spouse to give you an allowance.

Again, marital assets are marital assets. You are entitled to spend the marital money so long as you are doing it in a healthy and communicative way.

If you’ve been restricted to the predetermined, inflexible amount of financial support, something’s not right.

Further, if the “allowance” is taken from you, something truly unsavory and concerning is afoot. Don’t stand for it!

When your Partner Gives You an Allowance

5. The significant other demands repayment

Your spouse/partner is not a savings and loan account.

When you make household purchases out of marital funds, it is quite inappropriate for the partner to ask for repayment of the funds. Unfortunately, this happens too often.

Further, some extremely nasty spouses demand interest on marital funds that are to be repaid.

Yes, it’s ridiculous and yes, you do not have to live with it.

6. The partner will not let you work

Often the financial abuse individuals endure morphs into something far more nefarious.

If your partner will not let you work outside of the home, the issue runs far deeper than finances. A dangerous situation exists if you are unable to leave home.

No one should ever feel restricted in this way. Even if you are made to feel guilty about working, be on your guard. You should never be made to feel shame about wanting to work outside the home. It would also be helpful to become aware of some key dynamics of abuse in a relationship and seek help.

7. The double standard

Sometimes an abusive partner will make a whopper of purchase with your joint money after you’ve bought something small for yourself.

A massive, unexpected purchase after a rough fight is an indicator of financial abuse. This is, of course, all about control.

Your abusive partner cannot stand the thought of you doing something good for yourself that reaches beyond them. They need to get over it.

What to do?

Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the like should not be tolerated under any circumstances

If you have experienced any of these tell-tale signs of financial abuse in marriage, you are probably dealing with other types of abuse in your marriage. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the like should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

If your situation resonates with any of these financial abuse examples, perhaps the most important thing to do is to create an escape plan for yourself and your dependents.

By nature, an escape plan will require a lot of behind the scenes, clandestine work. Store some money with a trusted friend or family member. Identify an emergency place of residence.

Let police officials know about the predicament of financial abuse in the marriage so that a file and response will be ready when you need it.

Gather your important documents, prescriptions, and the like and have them ready for quick retrieval should the moment of escape present itself.

First and foremost, do not hesitate to ask for help. Do not put yourself in a situation that provides few avenues for escape.

If financial abuse in marriage is your reality and your partner exhibits the red-flag characteristics of an abuser, then choosing to leave the abuser and establishing a financial plan for survival is a must-have.

100 Questions You Should Ask Before Marriage

What a great list!Rory

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Couple talking at dinner

Marriage is a big step in a relationship. It signifies the commitment and love you have for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. But love isn’t always enough. There are questions to ask before marriage that go beyond love like children, dealing with conflicts, beliefs, finances and extended family. Explore 100 questions to ask before marriage.

Questions About Marriage and Children

Questions to ask your fiance about children before marriage include:

  • How many kids do you want?
  • What values do you want to install in your children?
  • How do you want to discipline your kids?
  • What would you do if one of your children said he was homosexual?
  • What if our children didn’t want to go to college?
  • How much say do children have in a family?
  • How comfortable are you around children?
  • Would you be opposed to having our parents watch the children so we can spend time alone together?
  • Would you put your children in private or public school?
  • What are your thoughts on home schooling?
  • Would you be willing to adopt if we couldn’t have kids?
  • Would you be willing to seek medical treatment if we couldn’t have kids naturally?
  • Do you believe it’s OK to discipline your child in public?
  • How do you feel about paying for your kid’s college education?
  • How far apart do you want kids?
  • Would you want someone to stay home with the kids or use day care?
  • How would you feel if our kids wanted to join the military rather than go to college?
  • How involved do you want grandparents to be in our parenting?
  • How will we handle parental decisions?
Work or familyDealing With Conflict

 pre-marriage questions.

  • Would you be willing to go to marriage counseling if we were having marital problems?
  • If there is a disagreement between me and your family, whose side do you choose?
  • How do you handle disagreements?
  • Would you ever consider divorce?
  • Would you rather discuss issues as they arise or wait until you have a few problems?
  • How would you communicate you aren’t satisfied sexually?
  • What is the best way to handle disagreements in a marriage?
  • How can I be better at communicating with you?
Couple hanging out at playgroundMoral, Political, Religious, Family Values, and Beliefs

Just a few questions to ask a fiance before you get serious about marriage include:

  • What are your views on infidelity?
  • What are your religious views on marriage?
  • What’s more important, work or family?
  • What are your political views?
  • What are your views on birth control?
  • Would you rather be rich and miserable or poor and happy?
  • Who will make the biggest decisions of the household?
  • What would you do if someone said something bad about me?
  • Would you follow the advice of your family before your spouse?
  • What do you believe the role of a wife is?
  • Who should do household chores?
  • What do you believe the role of a husband is?
Happy couple at voter polling place

Handling Finances

Money, debt, and finances are important things to talk about before marriage.

  • How do you feel about debt?
  • Would you share all money with your spouse or split the money into different accounts?
  • What are your views on saving money?
  • What are your views on spending money?
  • What if we both want something but can’t afford both?
  • How well do you budget?
  • Do you feel it is important to save for retirement?
  • Would you be willing to get a second job if we had financial problems?
  • Do you have any debt?
  • What if a family member wants to borrow a large sum of money?
  • Who will take care of the financial matters of the household?

Don’t forget to have fun. Find out what your future spouse thinks by including some entertainment and lifestyle points in your list of 100 questions for couples.

  • Do you enjoy traveling?
  • How often would you like to travel?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • How important is spending time alone to you?
  • How would you feel about me going on a trip with the girls (boys) for a couple of weeks?
  • How important is spending time with friends to you?
  • What would be the perfect weekday evening to you?
  • What would we do if we both had a break from work, but each of us had different ideas on how to spend it?
Happy couple in Paris, France
Extended Family

Include some family and relation inquiries among the 100 questions to ask your partner.

  • How often would you want to visit your family?
  • How often will your family visit us?
  • How often would you want my family to visit?
  • How often would you want to visit my family?
  • Do you have a family history of diseases or genetic abnormalities?
  • What if one of your family members said he disliked me?
  • How would you handle holiday family visits?
  • If your parents became ill, would you take them in?
  • If my parents became ill, would you mind taking them in?
Family and personal medical information are questions you should ask your future husband or wife.
  • Does anyone in your family suffer from alcoholism?
  • What is your medical family history?
  • Would you be opposed to mental health treatment?
  • If I had to change my diet because of medical concerns, would you be willing to change yours?
  • Are you willing to exercise with me to improve our health?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Would you mind moving if I had to relocate with my job?

About the Relationship and Marriage

100 topics to talk about might be a lot, but you can learn a lot from 100 questions — including what your future partner thinks about marriage and relationships.

  • What would you do if we fell out of love?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • What would you like to be doing five or ten years from now?
  • What do you think is the best way to keep the love alive in a marriage?
  • How do you think life will change if we got married?
  • What is the best thing about marriage?
  • What is the worst thing about marriage?
  • What is your idea of the best weekend?
  • How important are wedding anniversaries to you?
  • How would you like to spend special days?
  • What kind of grandparent do you want to be someday?
  • What type of house do you want to live in?
  • What is your biggest fear about marriage?
  • What excites you about getting married?
  • What do wedding rings mean to you?
  • Are you afraid to talk to me about anything?
  • What do you think would improve our relationship?
  • What would be one thing you would change about our relationship?
  • Do you have any doubts about the future of our relationship?
  • Do you believe love can pull you through anything?
  • Is there anything you don’t trust about me?

Miscellaneous Things to Discuss Before Marriage

While you might have 1,001 questions to ask before you get married, consider throwing in some random questions like:

  • Which would you choose – dishes or laundry?
  • Do you like pets?
  • How many pets do you want?
  • What to do you want to do during retirement?
  • At what age would you like to retire?
Happy couple on couch with dog

Getting to Know Your Partner

Before getting married, be sure that you and your partner are comfortable with your individual and shared goals. Get to know what your partner thinks by checking out:

Don’t Ask Your Questions All at Once

Thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful replies which aren’t necessarily going to come instantly. If you and your partner are seriously considering marriage, set aside some time to have these conversations before marriage so you can be sure of what you both think and feel. Even if you have 101 questions to ask before you get engaged, this will give you plenty of opportunities to gauge whether marriage should be the next step in your relationship.


Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

This can be helpful for the partner, to see a mirad of reasons that their partner strayed.


Source: Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

When you think about the reasons why people cheat, what immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s sex. If a person is going to go behind their partner’s back and hook up with someone else, it stands to reason that there’s some form of physical attraction, or thrill of doing the deed with somebody new.

But experts say that’s not really why people have affairs. In fact, according to Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, cheating is almost always more about emotions than sex. “What drives the person to engage in the betrayal is the real reason for cheating,” he tells Bustle.

For example, someone might have an affair if they aren’t feeling connected to, or getting validation from their partner. Should a friend or coworker come along who is willing to listen, it makes sense why that extra attention would seem appealing — and why the attraction could quickly escalate into an affair.

While that isn’t necessarily a comfort for folks who have been cheated on, it is important to look at situations like these from all angles, in order to create a stronger relationship. Here, women share why they cheated, and what the experience taught them — and experts delve into the multiple reasons why people cheat.

They’re Avoiding Conflict

Sometimes, when a relationship is riddled with conflict — or even when things aren’t 100% easy for a short period of time — it can cause a person to panic and run into the arms of another.

The affair isn’t so much about sex at that point, as much as it is a way of avoiding problems. “Cheating allows them to escape,” Klapow says. “They can be with a person where problems and conflicts don’t exist, where they get respite, support, and validation.”

This was the case for Deonne, 40, who saw red flags in her relationship, but wasn’t ready to face them. She says it felt like the best and easiest option, and that being with someone else “filled a void.”

They Have Weak Boundaries

As Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a marriage counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle, if someone has “weak boundaries,” the chances of cheating go way up. He gives the example of a person getting too close to coworker, and how an affair could quickly unfold from there.

“It is natural for us to want to connect with those around us, and it’s natural to want to take that to the next level — a romantic one — when emotional intimacy is growing,” Bilek says. And yet, while friendships are obviously always OK, people with weak boundaries can’t help but go overboard.

It’s why it’s so important for couples to discuss the “rules” of their relationship, including what is and isn’t OK, as well as what counts as cheating. “Keeping firm boundaries at work and in social situations is critical for maintaining fidelity in a relationship,” he says.

They Want To Save The Relationship

While it sounds weird, some people use cheating as “a cry for help to save the relationship before they give up on it entirely,” Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expertf tells Bustle.

Yes, the cheater may go out and have sex. But that wasn’t technically their main goal or interest, she says. Instead, the affair may be the cheating partner’s (unhealthy) way of telling their significant other that they’ve been unhappy, and want to get a conversation started.

Again, this isn’t the best way to approach a partner about where a relationship is headed, or what it needs to succeed. And yet it often works: Some couples do find that they’re stronger after cheating, because the betrayal inspired them to communicate more, and work out their issues.

They Want To End The Relationship

On the flip side, some folks turn to cheating as a way of breaking up with their partner. “Rather than come out and say that they want to end the relationship, the person cheats hoping that their partner will find out and break up with them,” Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health expert, tells Bustle.

They may secretly hope their partner sees illicit texts popping up on their phone, or starts to wonder why they’re staying out so late at night and eventually asks what’s up. It’s obviously so much healthier (and kinder) to end things outright. But for those who struggle with direct communication, they might find themselves taking the cheating route, instead.

They Had An Abusive Past

Raina, 44, says the reason she cheated stemmed from an abusive childhood, which landed her in an abusive first marriage, and then in an unloving second marriage. Both times she cheated on her husband, first as a way of getting out of a toxic situation, and second as a way to continue on a path of self improvement.

“I had spent two years in therapy trying to get over past abuse,” she tells Bustle. But her second husband wasn’t listening to her needs, or helping her along the way. In fact, he was even encouraging her to stop taking helpful medication.

Frustrated, when another man came along, she couldn’t help but start an affair with him. “He gave me space, but also support,” she says, which helped her feel confident enough to continue working through what she’d been through in her past, and to seek out what she wanted for her future.

“Today, I am independent and strong. I don’t feel the need to depend on a man. While I do regret hurting people, I can’t regret either of my affairs. One gave me my children and the other gave me myself.”

They Want To Boost Their Self-Esteem

Not everyone who lacks confidence will have an affair in order to feel better. But experts say this is yet another reason why someone might sneak around behind their partner’s back.

“When someone is feeling down about [themselves] the thrill of sex with a new/forbidden person provides a temporary feeling of self-worth,” Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist, tells Bustle. “For example if things aren’t going well at work and [they] feel uncertain about [their] value, an outside lover can temporarily address that feeling.”

Nothing’s better than positive attention, flirty texts, and the excitement of being wanted. So when someone is feeling bad about themselves, cheating becomes all the more tempting.

They’re Lonely

“The majority of people who cheat are not fulfilled emotionally,” Ellen Bolin, a certified professional relationship coach, tells Bustle, which explains why so many people turn to emotional affairs — which often lead to physical affairs — as a way of curing a sense of loneliness within a relationship.

This is, of course, not the best way to solve the issue. Painful affairs can be avoided if couples speak up and let one another know when/if they’ve feeling neglected, unheard, or lonely.

They’re Bored

If someone is bored with their relationship, it makes sense why they might turn to cheating as a way of spicing things up for themselves. But experts say, more often than not, cheating is a choice made by those who are bored with their own life in general, and that has little to do with their partner.

“It’s a way to feel alive, special, seen by someone else,” Ross says. “[And] the sneaking around is often more exciting than the sex itself.” In other words, having something to hide, and something that adds a bit of danger to their life, can give them the exciting story they’re looking for.

These reasons all make sense. But, as Deonne says, it’s important to remember that “cheating is a temporary fix to a deeper issue.”

They’re Seeking Revenge

Cheating may also be an act of revenge, which can stem from anger — for any number of reasons. “The person may be frustrated in their relationship, or feel like their partner doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, doesn’t support them,” Klapow says. “In an act of defiance — but also avoidance of the problem at hand — the person cheats. So instead of directly confronting the problem, they avoid it and act out by cheating.” And that’s not cool.

Knowing an affair isn’t always all about sex won’t make it any less painful for the person being cheated on, but it may help both members of a relationship understand why it happened in the first place. By talking about problems before they get out of hand — and making sure you’re both fulfilled — an affair doesn’t have to happen.


Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, marriage counselor

Bethany Ricciardi, sex and relationship expert

Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, mental health expert

Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, couples therapist

Ellen Bolin, certified professional relationship coach

The Right Way to Negotiate with Your Partner | Psychology Today Canada

Source: The Right Way to Negotiate with Your Partner | Psychology Today Canada

Collaborative negotiation can help your marriage be fair and equal.

Let’s change fundamentally the way we think about being married so that you and your partner can create the kind of life you want together—and in the process help change our society. I propose that marriage be conceived as the collaborative negotiation of partners around their individual and joint life plans—plans that are not dictated by gender roles or gender traits—which can replace the old model of marriage driven by the motif of gender. Negotiating collaboratively begins with both husband and wife being able to identify his/her wants in any given situation. These wishes are stated and the reasons for them are provided.  It is as if each of you put these wishes on a virtual kitchen table where agreement, differences, and disagreements become apparent.  From this perspective, differences and disagreements are on the table between you not exclusively within either of you.

The schematic below depicts the idea that wants are openly stated, looked at side-by-side, and negotiated so that a win-win outcome can occur.  The schematic depicts clearly the idea that disagreements and/or differences are between the two of you not within either of you.

Catherine E. Aponte, Psy.D.
Virtual Kitchen Table
Source: Catherine E. Aponte, Psy.D.

The negotiation that takes place in marriage is not the kind that one sees in business where each party is trying to maximize his/her own gain at the expense of the other.  Nor is it a quid pro quo (tit for tat, you do this for me, and I will do that for you) kind of negotiation.  Negotiating collaboratively has the following characteristics:  (1) each partner understands that his/her spouse is a valuable person in the same way that he/she is, (2) each partner is able to identify wants and desires, (3) each partner is willing to negotiate his/her wants and desires, (4) each partner can explain (not justify) what is important about the stated wants and desires,  (5) neither partner seeks to “privilege” his or her wants and desires over the other’s because of one’s status such as gender or wage earner, (6) each partner is willing to take action based on the negotiation of wants and desires, and (7)  each partner is willing to learn and change based on the outcomes of actions taken.

Taking Collaboration Seriously

A committed marriage is a life-long partnership, which links two people around their most fundamental desires to flourish as individuals and as a couple.  This requires great attention to the maintenance of a collaborative environment of negotiation.  Here are some thoughts about what collaboration means.[1]

  • Collaborators are equal.  True collaborators are always equals and each partner accepts full responsibility for his/her part in the process of negotiation.  Collaboration requires the sharing of authority and an acceptance of personal responsibility to negotiate in good faith.
  • Collaboration is not capitulation.   Collaboration protects individual autonomy.  Most of us have a (possibly subconscious) fear of being overwhelmed by someone and are reluctant to surrender any part of our autonomy in a relationship.
  • Collaboration is not cooperation.   Collaboration is about the process of working together, while cooperation is about the result of working together.  For example, I can cooperate with you by stepping aside while you do what you want to do.

Sociologists believe that gender remains a central motif in heterosexual marriage because the idea of masculinity and femininity are acted out in marriage. Sociologist Sara Berk has described marriage as a “gender factory”—i.e., husbands and wives demonstrate their masculinity/femininity in the way they interact around everyday household activities, childcare, and displays of affection for one another.[2] When we carry out these gender roles in marriage, we subconsciously assume it is because of innate gender differences in masculinity and femininity. This reinforces the idea that marriage should be organized by gender. Collaborative negotiation is a new vision of how we can understand marriage.  Collaboration derives from the unique qualities and contribution of the collaborators; it is not determined by gender. If either of you does not participate as fully engaged and equal partners, it might as well be one person making the decisions.

Negotiating Collaboratively is About Commitment

Most people think the idea of commitment between husband and wife is about staying together through thick and thin.  This is what is called an “aspirational” statement, what you believe should occur, and hope will occur, in your marriage.  The commitment to negotiate collaboratively around the issues that you will face during your marriage is the hard work needed to achieve this aspiration.  The willingness to negotiate issues in good faith with your spouse is so important that I believe it rises to the level of a vow you are willing to make and remake throughout your marriage.


  • A new approach is needed to achieve an equitable, sustainable marriage
  • This approach is to organize marriage around negotiating wishes and wants collaboratively
  • Marriage can no longer be organized around the gender of the partners
  • Collaboration between equal partners is neither capitulation no cooperation
  • There is not a managing partner in an equal partnership
  • Negotiating collaboratively with one another is about commitment to the marriage


1. Coulson, Christopher.    “What is Collaboration?” DynamicLivingTM.

2. Berk, Sarah Fenstermaker. The Gender Factor: The Apportionment of Work in American Households. New York: Plenum, 1985.

5 Things Couples Do That Lead to Divorce | Psychology Today

Source: 5 Things Couples Do That Lead to Divorce | Psychology Today

Dissecting the unraveling of a relationship can help you get back on track.

My parents divorced when I was 19, but years before their marriage ended, I watched their decline. I didn’t understand what I witnessed with my parents then, but after years of working with couples, I see that there can be a similar downward spiral in partnerships.

The seeds of divide often come following hurt feelings or dashed expectations. When they are not exposed or acknowledged, these problems fester and grow to lead to many relationships falling apart.

Here’s what my parents’ path looked like. Of course, this isn’t the only path to destruction, but it’s common enough that you may see yourself on this trajectory.

1. They worked against each other.

I believe my parents didn’t like each other for the last 10 years of their marriage. When a partner demonizes the other or holds resentments for years, it creates a very unstable marriage.

There is also an unconscious polarization that happens when each spouse thinks the other needs to change to be more like them. Classic examples are the spender and the saver, or the emotional and the intellectual.

There are couples who can never find a comfortable middle ground. Most couples have one or two such issues, but with those who end up divorcing, there are usually too many differences that don’t get bridged.

You’re doing this if:

a. You say things like, “he always…” or “she never…”  and demonize your partner seeing them as the opposition.

b. You have the same fight repeatedly without resolution or compromise, you are probably polarizing.

c. You loop on a story of how your partner is harming you.


If you are polarizing, work harder to understand your spouse’s perspective and meet them halfway. My aunt always said, “a good relationship is one where each person gives 150 percent.” Expecting to only ever be comfortable in relationships means you’ve got some emotional work to do.

2. They didn’t communicate with each other about their needs and feelings.

My mother spoke to her friends and others about her marriage woes, but not directly to my father. My father didn’t speak to anyone about his. My guess: They didn’t know what they needed or felt.

Underneath every criticism of a partner are feelings and needs. “Why don’t you ever help around the house?” has feelings of being unappreciated or disrespected, and the need to have support and help.

If speaking to your spouse from your feelings and needs isn’t a tool in your toolbox, it needs to be. Simply saying, “I need more support. Can you help with ____?” Or “I am feeling unsupported when you watch TV while I’m cooking dinner and the baby is crying.”

I’ve yet to meet a spouse who can read minds, but I’ve met many people who expect their partner to just know what they need. I’ve also seen many people push away their own needs as a way to feel invulnerable. Having needs (and yes, we all have them) isn’t the problem. How we handle having needs is usually where the challenges show up.

Couples need to communicate about what they like and don’t like as well as how they feel about things. Partners also need to ask a lot more questions of their mate and not assume they know more than they do.

Finally, couples do best when they express their feelings and needs in a way that is more “hearable.” Starting a sentence with a criticism will undoubtedly create defensiveness in whomever you are speaking to. Likewise, leading with a request will have most people wanting to meet your need.

You’re doing this if:

a. You often start sentences with: “You should…”, “Why can’t you…”, “I can’t believe you just said/did that.” (anything critical or attacking)

b. You feel resentful toward your spouse much of the time.

c. You often think, “S/he should know that bothers me.” Or, “Can’t s/he see what I need?”


Learn new phrases to say and start sentences with requests or invitations. “Can you help me ________?” Or,“How about if we _________?” Anytime you say “we” instead of “you,” it feels inclusive.

Also, let your spouse know early, and in a kind way, that something they are doing isn’t working for you. If you keep your feelings to yourself and allow the emotion to build, you’re more likely to have a fight.

3. They stopped spending time together.

I observed my parents’ annual adult-only vacations cease. Conversations about golf and gardening dried up, and they stopped socializing.

When married couples become like the proverbial two ships passing in the night, or it becomes apparent that they don’t like each other, the hill to climb toward reconnection becomes much steeper.

Often, as was the case with my mother and father, unresolved hurts and resentments cause the divide. Understandably, most people would rather avoid the pain that going back into unpleasant exchanges entails. Yet, I’ve seen miraculous changes when couples are brave enough to revisit and recover.

You’re doing this if:

a. You don’t want to spend as much time with your spouse anymore.

b. You believe it’s easier to avoid a difficult discussion.

c. You’d agree that you’re like two ships in the night.


When you feel the divide starting (or even after it has taken root) intervene. Let your spouse know that you want to reconnect and take steps to do that. This is where therapists and relationship coaches can be helpful. Remember that you don’t have to—and, in fact, may not be able to—figure this out on your own.

4. They began to see the solution to their problems outside of the marriage.

This misstep naturally follows in the continuum of drifting apart.

For some, the solution to an unhappy marriage was to get out of it and move on with someone else.

Yet, people can also “leave without leaving” by checking out emotionally.

Some get focused on other things like their kids, going out more with friends, or building their career. I’ve even seen people have kids at this point in their relationship as a way to escape the problems.

Others turn to a substance or behavior to escape. Addictions to a substance (alcohol, drugs, food), or to activities (online porn, shopping, gambling) can develop.

You’re doing this if:

a. You daydream about how great life would be if you were single or in a new/different relationship.

b. You get overly busy at work, you find a new hobby that takes you away from home more, or worse, you develop an addiction to food, alcohol, pain killers, spending money, TV, etc.

c. You start an emotional affair with someone and become what I call, “affair-ready.”

Source: 123rf


Running from or avoiding your pain doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it can make things worse. Commit to dealing with your relationship head on. If there’s something that can be done to make things better, commit to doing that. If you need to move on from the partnership, be honest with yourself and your partner and take steps to move on.

5. They do not seek help.

My parents were good people. I have no idea if therapy would have kept them together, but it might have helped them air grievances, learn basic relationship and communication skills, and prevent some of the wreckage that ensued.

Many couples who end up divorcing either don’t get professional guidance at all, or they don’t seek it out soon enough. Letting time pass, hoping things will get better is not a good strategy.

Don’t wait until there’s a crisis or things are unbearable to get help. Therapy, relationship coaching, or meetings with clergy, if you are religious, can make a tremendous difference in healing relationships and helping couples have a deeper connection.

You’re doing this if:

a. You’d rather divorce than go to therapy.

b. You tell yourself, “Things will get better when ___________ happens,” and you keep doing the same old same old.

c. Your relationship is in a crisis.


Get help and professional support as soon as you can. If finances are keeping you from reaching out, investigate the numerous 12-step or self-help resources that are out there. Many of these programs are held remotely so there’s no reason to not take advantage.

At the Crossroads

If you’re at a crossroads with your marriage, ask yourself if your spouse is on your team, if you are honest with each other, if you spend quality time together, if you turn toward your marriage for solutions, and if you have asked for help.

Intervening on any one of these spots can make the difference between whether or not your marriage will survive.

The Daily Temperature Reading – A Skill for Committed Relationships

Relationship Expert Dr. Rita DeMaria shares a quick exercise, the Daily Temperature Reading, that couples can use to strengthen their communication habits. I really like this method and I suggest it it to all my couples and those in relationship.


Source: Council for Relationships – Helping people understand, respect, and improve the quality of their relationships – The Daily Temperature Reading – A Skill for Committed Relationships

Dr. Rita DeMaria, LMFT, CST is a Staff Therapist and Director of Healthy Relationships and Wellness Programs at Council for Relationships.

Yes, you can love someone for a lifetime–but you need the knowledge and skills to maintain and grow the relationship.

It’s not how much you love each other that strengthens a long-term relationship; it’s how you resolve differences and preserve fun and sensuality. Luckily, everyone can learn, practice, and improve their relationship skills. Later in this blog, I will share a quick exercise, the Daily Temperature Reading, that helps couples improve their regular communication skills and builds closeness.

Over many years as a therapist, I have identified the seven reasons people want to develop healthy relationships skills:

  1. Communicating – listening and self expression

  2. Resolving conflict

  3. Managing anger and resentment

  4. Dealing with individual differences

  5. Wanting more out of the relationship

  6. Rebuilding trust when it has been broken

  7. Being single–wanting to find the ‘one’ and develop a healthy relationship

If you’re looking for any of these things, then you’re in luck: I designed my programs around these key facets. I teach people how to communicate effectively, manage conflicts without damaging closeness, and how to preserve and enhance commitment, friendship and intimacy. If you’ve never been to a program like this before, you may be wondering what kinds of skills you could learn. In this blog, I’m going to share one of my favorite exercises, the Daily Temperature Reading, with you.

The Daily Temperature Reading was developed by Virginia Satir – a pioneer of family therapy. It is a skill-based activity that you and your partner can do together on a regular basis to build a connection and learn to communicate on important topics. It was used in the PAIRS Program and by the Smart Marriages- Healthy Families Conference.

As you’ll learn in the video below, the Daily Temperature Reading is made up of five parts:

  1. Appreciation – something you each appreciate that the other person did

  2. New Information – big or small, something you haven’t shared with your partner

  3. Puzzle – what’s on your mind, what issues are you struggling with

  4. Complaint with request for change – ask your partner what you need

  5. Wish, hope, or dream – something you’re looking forward to

Watch the video below for a walk through of the exercise:

You can find my Daily Temperature Reading worksheet here. You may find it helpful to print this out and refer to it until you and your partner have the steps memorized.

About Dr. DeMaria

Early in my career, I became interested in a number of relationship skills programs, including Prepare-Enrich and PAIRS – Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills. For over 20 years I taught the PAIRS program to hundreds of participants. I also conducted research on helping distressed couples, published several professional books, and a bestselling health and wellness book with Reader’s Digest, The 7 Stages of Marriage.

I have trained and collaborated with my colleagues at Council for Relationships to develop the Relationship Check Up and Healthy Relationships and Wellness Programs, for which I currently serve as the Director. The experiences of helping people with their most important relationships has transformed me as a person, as a wife, and as a clinician.


My Fantasy Online Courtship Went From Charming To Creepy Once We Met

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

Recently, Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person,” a story about a faux-intimate, emoji-dependent, sad-in-the-sack relationship, went viral and millions of readers took to social media defending its genius or damning its drivel. While “Cat Person” speaks to our depressing State of Toxic Disunion and the difficulties negotiating sex, power, and consent via texts, sexts, and SociopathMatch.Com, it actually leaves us mired in misogyny’s muck. At the end of the story, Margot is rendered a passive pussy as Robert, her erstwhile Prince Charmless, gets the last text: “Whore.”

Fuck that.

It is now a truth universally acknowledged if you are a single woman in possession of a good cellphone and in want of a man, the odds are that you will, at some point, find yourself ensnared in a texting-sexting-dating cock-up, as I have, admittedly more than once.

But not again.

This is how I flipped the script from passive pussy to power pussy.

I was waiting outside airport baggage claim in the cold when Farmer Dick (real profession, fake name) pulled up in his dirty white delivery van, Heart and Soil Farm emblazoned on the side.

“Where do I pick you up?” he’d asked the night before.

It was years since he’d been to an airport, and his question suggested naïve bewilderment over how electricity, roads, and airplanes connected the great expanses between farms and cities — or how the internet highway connected singles, not-so-singles, polys, pans, earnest hopefuls, and predatory sociopaths.

He apologized for the rustic transport.

“Only kale and lettuce and cabbage go in the back,” he said. “No kidnap victims.”

“My friend has your cell, address, and the Airbnb link,” I said.

Airbnb first night — “Urban Duck Farm” — and if all went well, the rest of the weekend at his house.

“Ahh,” my girlfriend said, “more like Urban Fuck Farm.” Indeed, the likely activity after wandering the art museum.

“Let’s make love and paint faux Rothkos on my walls,” he’d suggested.

Perhaps you think this weekend was an ill-advised, ready-made disaster from the start. However, by the time I bought the tickets, Farmer Dick and I had spent dozens of hours in conversation, more than people spend for casual hookups, more than some before marriage. Enough hours that such a risk’s payoff might have been love.

Weeks of tremblings started with his profile pics: Gentleman Farmer in a rumpled blazer and jaunty beret with a scruffy beard; a hand held between nose and mouth, cupping soil. Ahhh, terroir! Another pic: Shirtless, riverside, a black dog curled up under his arm, like Coleridge’s “enamored rustic” lazing on the banks of the Thames.

Oh yes, I’d go with him to Xanadu’s pleasure dome.

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

Him: I feel you these miles apart.

Me: Energy travels fast and furious through the universe.

Skype proved he was not a Nigerian Prince Bot in need of my bank account. And bonus! At his suggestion (be still my writer’s heart), old-fashioned letters arrived in my mailbox in his homemade envelopes. In his first letter, Farmer Dick wrote, “In a sane and just world, you could fly to me in a few weeks — we could briefly winnow out all our insecurities, crash at an Airbnb — come back to my place, walk those quiet wooded places, make meals, make love, make words for our mealmaking and lovesharing.”

Even with a failed marriage and enough online dating disaster stories for 1001 nights, I felt soft and tingly, ignoring red flags. For instance: a message that ended, “I love you. Fuck me.” Fucked for loving me? Who claims love before meeting? Two nights before our rendezvous, he sent me a message: “Long business dinner. Feeling checked out. Please feel secure in any silence from me. Much love! 😉 heart heart heart.”

At the museum, we held hands — all erotic, anticipatory impatience — while strolling past Cezannes, Renoirs, and Rothkos. His hand moved to the back of my neck, and my thumb stroked his knuckles in incremental intimacy.

“I love making love with you,” Farmer Dick said later that night after we’d been having sex on and off for hours, and, as if marveling at his own piece de resistance, said, “I came three times! That hasn’t happened in years!”

Ahh, hubris.

Farmer Dick’s last message, sent days after our rendezvous: “How are you? It’d be pretty raw if we couldn’t have a conversation about how you felt — feel. I would appreciate the autopsy of the weekend from your p.o.v.”

Post-mortem vivisection? Okay.

Friday: Damn good, though Urban Duck Farm’s location, in a neighborhood of burned-out homes, made me wonder if he chose a hipster hostel for the bottom line?

Saturday: Farmer Dick earns his pseudonym. Not one casual touch or intimate kindness. At a coffee shop (so he could use the free WiFi), he read Slavoj Žižek quotes from Goodreads: “Love feels like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.” Žižek is generally regarded as a racist, misogynist, pseudo-intellectual, but I pretended to listen because, please please please don’t let Farmer Dick be just another asshole because assholes don’t write long letters and send them in homemade envelopes, do they?

He chattered about green burials on his farm (“I could sell plots for ten thousand!”) which drifted to talk about the dark web and ethical cannibalism: human bodies as haute cuisine. I blinked and sipped the coffee that I paid for.

Back at his house, as we inspected the walls and traced out the color blocks for the faux Rothkos, he pointed to knee-high, red specks along the walls. “Blood,” he said. “My dog had fleas. She got a sore behind her ear from scratching, and every time she shook her head…” He no longer had the dog.

I started painting a green square on the wall. He disappeared upstairs. When he returned, he said, “I took MDMA, and when I do, I’m not usually down for sex.”

However, he was down for a two hour, egomaniacal, run-on sentence regarding all the women he’d ever fucked and all the women who loved him. He went on and on about how two nights before — the night he sent me the text about feeling “checked out” — his ex-girlfriend stopped by. While they didn’t “fuck-fuck,” he said, “we sort of fucked, but I didn’t want to tell you because then you might not have come, but you say that you believe in truth and transparency, so I’m telling you now, and speaking of now…that the excitement of meeting is over, you’re cool if we don’t really text as much?”

I sat next to him on the couch, focusing first on his pupils — wide, dark saucers — and then on the drippy color blotches.

Fucker, I thought. You motherfucker. You won’t touch my insides anymore.

He jumped up and attacked the walls like a toddler with finger paints. I group texted girlfriends:

Me: He’s reading Neruda love poems. And strumming guitar.

GF’s: Humor him. Take notes for an essay.

Me: He’s claiming his Rothkos are more authentic than Rothkos.

GF’s: Is he a moron?

Me: He wants to tuck me in and read Žižek. I wonder if he knows how full of shit he is.

Sunday: That morning in bed, his hand found mine, fingers stroking my arm, then belly, then thigh. Feigned tenderness or a more likely last chance grab? Will you think me a fool or worse, think me a whore à la Cat Person, if I say that despite his epically awful behavior, I got wet and throbby, climbed on top of him, and with efficiency, achieved clinical solo success.

In short: I fucked him.

Don’t imagine I felt any pity as his twitching erect penis sagged in disappointment against his thigh.

“Sorry,” I said, flashing a bland smile, “have to get going. Got a text. New flight time. Hours earlier.”

An easy lie.

While Farmer Dick was warming up the van and shucking ice from the windshield for our airport drive, I found my stack of letters to him on the dining room windowsill and crammed them in my bag.

Those letters, delivered to the wrong address, were meant for a different man.

I was five hours early for my flight, but as I cleared security, another flight to my destination was announced: final boarding. I ran to the gate.

“Please,” I said to the agent, “I’ve had the worst date weekend ever. I just want to get home.” Did he see my wobbly, sad shame through the steel door?

The agent smiled.

“Ma’am, usually a $200 change fee, but for you? Free. Get home safe and sound.”

Safe and sound. Perhaps you think this weekend was an ill-advised, ready-made disaster from the start. However, by the time I bought the tickets, Farmer Dick and I had spent dozens of hours in conversation, more than people spend for casual hookups, more than some before marriage. Enough hours that such a risk’s payoff might have been love. Maybe when I arrived, no longer just abstract words but full-bodied, I wasn’t what he expected or wanted. Fine. No harm, no foul. U-turn on the next flight.

But he didn’t get the last word or last text: “You ask ‘Are you okay?’ Something you failed to ask me all weekend. But, in answer, I am perfectly fine. Minimal wounds. Healing fast.”

How to Connect With Your Spouse After a Long Workday

Once you’re finally home from work, you might flop down next to your spouse and ask, “How was your day?” They’ll likely reply, “Good.” They may go into detail or they may not. You may forget that you even asked the question while zoning out.

This person that you’re building a life with is pretty important. You know that. But after a long workday, possibly getting the kids bathed and in bed, plus cleaning up the house a bit, you have little energy left to connect with your spouse. The same goes for them, too. You love each other, but you’re exhausted.

Regardless of your energy levels, you’re in this life together and failing to make time to truly connect with each other can erode your relationship. So, here are six ways you can strengthen your bond that work even when you’re feeling wiped out.1


Ask Open-Ended Questions to Invoke Conversation

Ask open-ended questions to jump start your conversation

Getty Images / Gary John Norman

A close-ended question will result in a one-word response like “Okay” or “Fine”. We may use it as a warm-up for an in-depth conversation we’d like to start but instead, skip it. Get straight to the point and don’t waste your time and energy.

First, get your spouse’s attention, especially if they’ve already zoned out with electronics. Look them in the eyes, say hi, and then use the language of love. Go in for the kiss! Ah, now we’re talking! Contact has been made.2

Now, hook them into the conversation and ask a question like, “What was the best part of your day today?” to get them talking about something that excited instead of what stressed them out. Another question you could as is “What was your most important encounter today?” to learn who they connected with and what that was like.

Then, the most important part, listen with all your heart. Resist the urge to pick up your phone and mute the T.V. if you must. Leave the spotlight on them for as long as possible so that you can give each other your full attention.

Use the Language of Love

Use the language of love to connect with your spouse after a long work day

Pexels /

Words are not the only way to connect with your spouse after a long day. If you don’t have the energy for a love-fest there are alternatives. You could have a long hug when you first see each other. When you feel like letting go, hug for a few more seconds and feel the connection between your hearts. Feels good, doesn’t it? Or give your spouse some really good kisses all night when they least expect it! You haven’t seen each other in over eight hours. Show them some love!

If this public display of affection bothers the kids physically make contact in discreet ways. You could hold hands while watching T.V. or walk hand in hand while taking the kids out for a walk. If your spouse is doing the dishes (yippee!), go up behind them and put your arms around them. This might feel funny, but that’s part of the game of love, right? Another idea is while on your tablets or laptops, touch their feet or legs with yours.

Reminisce About the Good Old Days

Take a trip down memory lane to connect with your spouse

Getty Images / Chris Ryan

If you don’t feel like hashing out your day talk about a specific funny or loving memory you shared. 3For example, you can ask, “Do you remember that time in Hawaii when we took our first helicopter ride and saw all those amazing waterfalls?” Then, enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Reminiscing takes you away from the stress of the daily grind. It sends you back to a happier time and thus gives you a burst of energy when you need it most, at the end of your day. You’ll feel grateful you were able to have that experience with your spouse. Your past has helped bring you both to where you are today.

Go to Bed Early – Together

Go to bed early with your spouse to connect after a long day

Getty Images / Lilly Bloom

Recoup from a tiring day by getting into bed early and at the same time. So, get ready for the next day together, like making coffee, putting out breakfast, or packing lunches together. Then, brush your teeth and get frisky or cuddle. Or, be silly—humor is a great way to bond! 3Then, jump under the covers and snuggle.

Snuggle time makes you feel secure and love. At the end of the day, a bit of affection tends to make us feel better, right? No words need, just getting warm and comfortable to prepare for a good night sleep.2

Smile at Each Other Often

Smile at each other, even if you don't feel happy, to connect with your spouse

Getty Images / SCC

Let’s say you come home in a bad mood. Although your spouse had nothing to do with that we tend to take out our frustrations on those we care about the most. With this perspective in mind, if you want to get over this bad mood and be able to connect with your spouse in a positive way, smile at them.

Psychologist and facial coding expert, Paul Ekman, discovered that if you smile with both your lips and eyes, even if it’s fake, it’ll put you in a better mood. Also, since we are wired to be social if your spouse sees you smiling, they can’t resist by smile back.4 Put this in your toolkit when you want to get your spouse out of their bad mood!

Start a Bucket List Together

Make a bucket list together to connect with yoru spouse

Getty Images / ZoneCreative

What do you want to do before you die? What does your spouse what to do before they die? After the kids are asleep start your bucket list. How many similar things do you want to accomplish?

This conversation connects you by dreaming about possibilities. These things don’t have to be done this weekend. They are goals you’d like to accomplish within your lifetime. This perspective takes the pressure off checking off the list and instead you dream together. Making plans this way can excite you both and give you another burst of energy at the end of a long day.

A Word From Verywell

At the end of the day, your marriage needs your attention. Not your undivided attention, and perhaps not every day. But making an effort, even a small one, will pay off in a closer connection and healthier marriage. Taking the time to nurture this relationship lets your partner know you care and that they (and your marriage) are a top priority—and helps keep your relationship strong.

The Triangle of Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor – What It Is and How to Get Out.

Stephen Karpman, M.D., developed his “drama triangle” – victim, rescuer, persecutor – almost 40 years ago, and I find it’s just as relevant – and just as new to many people – as it was 40 years ago.

Even if you don’t spend much time yourself playing any of these three roles – you probably deal on a daily basis with people who do.

Knowing how to put our “big girl” or “big boy” pants on and get out of the triangle is essential when dealing with people who want to pull us in. Using our own wise mind to recognize when we’ve regressed into one of these roles ourselves (usually because of the usual culprit, needing to play those roles early in our family of origin conditioning) is also essential to make wise conscious choices in our intimate and social interactions with others.

May the reflections and exercises offered below save you much grief and help you enjoy healthy, game-free relationships.


The drama triangle is a dynamic model of social interaction and conflict developed by Dr. Karpman when he was a student of Eric Berne, M.D. father of transactional analysis.

[Karpman and other clinicians point out that “victim, rescuer, and persecutor” refer to roles people unconsciously play, or try to manipulate other people to play, not the actual circumstances in someone’s life. There can be real victims of crime or racism or abuse, etc.]The three roles of the drama triangle are archetypal and easily recognizable in their extreme versions.


The stance of the victim is “poor me!” Victims see themselves as victimized, oppressed, powerless, helpless, hopeless, dejected, and ashamed, and come across as “super-sensitive,” wanting kid glove treatment from others. They can deny any responsibility for their negative circumstances and deny possession of the power to change those circumstances.

A person in the victim role will look for a rescuer, a savior, to save them (and if someone refuses or fails to do that, can quickly perceive them now as a persecutor.)

In terms of derailing resilience, victims have real difficulties making decisions, solving problems, finding much pleasure in life, or understanding their self-perpetuating behaviors.


The stance of the rescuer is “Let me help you!” Rescuers work hard to help and caretake other people, and even need to help other people to feel good about themselves, while neglecting their own needs or not taking responsibility for meeting their own needs.

Rescuers are classically co-dependent and enablers. They need victims to help and often can’t allow the victim to succeed or get better. They can use guilt o keep their victims dependent and feel guilty themselves if they are not rescuing somebody.

In terms of derailing resilience, rescuers are frequently harried, overworked, tired, caught in a martyr style while resentment festers underneath.


The stance of the persecutor is “It’s all your fault!” Persecutors criticize and blame the victim, set strict limits, can be controlling, rigid, authoritative, angry and unpleasant. They keep the victim feeling oppressed through threats and bullying.

In terms of resilience, persecutors can’t bend, can’t be flexible, can’t be vulnerable, can’t be human; they fear the risk of being a victim themselves. Persecutors yell and criticize but they don’t actually solve any problems or help anyone else solve the problem.

These are the most extreme versions of these three roles, but we can encounter people playing milder versions of these roles on a pretty regular basis.

Because Dr. Karpman was a student of transactional analysis at the time he identified these three roles on the drama triangle, there is a resemblance to the critical parent (persecutor) marshmallow parent (rescuers) and the wounded inner child (victim) Eric Berne described in Games People Play.

What gives the drama triangle much of its power and significance is the recognition that people will switch roles and cycle through all three roles without ever getting out of the triangle. Victims depend on a savior; rescuers yearn for a basket case; persecutors need a scapegoat.

The trap is, people are acting out these roles to meet personal (often unconscious) needs rather than being able to see the picture as a whole and take responsibility for their part in keeping the triangle going.

An example from “The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest:

Dad comes home from work to find Mom and Junior engaged in a battle. “Clean up your room or else,” (persecutor) Mom threatens. Dad immediately comes to Junior’s rescue. “Mom,” he might say, “give the boy a break. He’s been at school all day.”

Any one of several possibilities might follow. Perhaps (persecutor) Mom, feeling victimized by Dad, will turn her wrath on him. In that case, she moves Dad from rescuer to victim. They then might do a few quick trips around the triangle with Junior on the sidelines.

Or maybe Junior joins Dad in a persecutory “Let’s gang up on Mom” approach, or then again, maybe Junior will turn on Dad, rescuing Mom with “Mind your own business, Dad. I don’t need your help!” So it goes, with endless variations, but nonetheless, pinging from corner to corner on the triangle. For many families, it’s the only way they know to interact.

(See Stories to Learn From below for more examples]

What’s needed is for anyone on the triangle to “wake up” to the roles they are playing repeatedly. One person shifting out of role can catalyze the others to shift out of roles and behaviors. What’s especially helpful is for the victim to begin to “grow up” and take responsibility for their own empowerment and resourcing themselves to meet their own needs.

[See Exercises to Practice below]Each role on the drama triangle has its own payoffs. Victims get to be take care of. Rescuers get to feel good by caretaking. Persecutors get to remain feeling superior to both victim and rescuer.

But the cost is to perpetuate a dysfunctional social dynamic and to miss out on the possibilities (and responsibilities) of healthy, resonant, resilient relationships.


It’s only when we become convinced that we can’t take care of ourselves that we move into victim. Believing that we are frail, powerless or defective keeps us needing rescue. Anxiety forces us to be always on the lookout for someone stronger or more capable to take care of us. This relegates us to a lifetime of crippling dependency on our primary relationships.

Victims deny both their problems solving abilities and their potential for self-generated power. This doesn’t prevent them from feeling highly resentful towards those on whom they depend. As much as they insist on being taken care of by their primary rescuers, they nonetheless do not appreciate being reminded of their inadequacy.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

The rescuer is the classic co-dependent, enabling, overly protective – the one who wants to “fix it.” Taking care of others may be the rescuer’s best game plan for getting to feel worthwhile. There’s no better way to feel important than to be a savior!

Rescuers often gain satisfaction by identifying with their care-taking role. They are generally proud of what “helpers” and “fixers” they are. Often they are socially acclaimed, even rewarded, for what can be seen as “selfless acts” of caring. They believe in their goodness as chief caretakers and see themselves as heroes.

Behind it all is a magical belief, “If I take care of them long enough, then, sooner or later, they will take care of me, too.” Common phrases for the martyred rescuer are, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get?” or “No matter how much I do, it’s never enough;” or “If you loved me, you wouldn’t treat me like this!”

A rescuer’s greatest fear is that they will end up alone. They believe that their total value comes from how much they do for others. It’s difficult for them to see their worth beyond what they have to offer in the way of “stuff” or “service.” They believe, “If you need me, you won’t leave me.” They scramble to make themselves indispensable in order to avoid abandonment.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

The persecutor is actually shame based. This role is most often taken on by someone who received overt mental and/or physical abuse during their childhood. As a result, they are often secretly seething inside form a shame-based wrath that ends up running their lives.

They may choose to emulate their primary childhood abuser(s), preferring to identify with those they see as having power and strength – rather than become the “picked on loser” at the bottom of life’s pile. Persecutors tend to adopt an attitude that says, “The world is hard and mean; only the ruthless survive. I’ll be one of those.”

The persecutor overcomes feelings of helplessness and shame by over-powering others. Domination becomes their most prevalent style of interaction. This means they must always be right! Their methods include bullying, preaching, threatening, blaming, lecturing, interrogating, and outright attack.

The persecutor needs someone to blame. They deny their vulnerability in the same way rescuers deny their needs. Their greatest fear is powerlessness. Because they judge and deny their own inadequacy, fear and vulnerability, they will need some place else to project these disowned feelings. In other words, they need a victim.

It is most difficult for someone in the persecutor role to take responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind, others deserve what they get. These warring individuals tent to see themselves as having to constantly fight for survival. Theirs is a constant struggle to protect themselves in what they perceive as a hostile world.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

[Out of the triangle….]The only way to “escape” the drama triangle is to function as an “adult” and not participate in the game.
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle

* * * * *

Those in victim roles must learn to assume responsibility for themselves and initiate self-care, rather than look outside themselves for a savior. They must challenge the ingrained belief that they can’t take care of themselves if they are to escape the triangle. Instead of seeing themselves as powerless, they must acknowledge their problem solving as well as their leadership capabilities. There is no escape except to take total responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts, and reactions.

It is certainly possible to be helpful and supportive without being a rescuer. There is a distinct difference between being truly helpful and rescuing. Authentic helpers act without expectations for reciprocation. They empower rather than disable those they serve. What they do will be done to encourage self-responsibility rather than promote dependency. True supporters believe that the other can handle their own business. They believe that everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn through sometimes hard consequences. They trust the other has what it takes to see themselves through times of difficulty without rescuers needing to “save” them.

Self-accountability is the only way off the grid for the persecutor. There has to be some kind of breakthrough to them to own their part. Unfortunately, because of their great reluctance to do so, it may have to come in the form of crisis.
– Lynne Forrest


During the time my daughter and I were staying with my girlfriend and her daughter, I was missing a very expensive pair of earrings – over $200 worth, and announced to everyone what they looked like and asked had they seen them. Nope, no one had seen them.

Finally, one day, suspicious of my girlfriend’s daughter, I went into her room and looked into her jewelry box and there we my earrings! I snatched them back. When everyone was home later that night, I told everyone where I had found my earrings.

I was clearly the victim, right? The persecutor was clearly my girlfriends’ daughter and either my girlfriend or my daughter, who was very young, could have been the rescuer.

Well…My girlfriend could not come out of denial that her daughter had taken the earrings, and her daughter denied taking them, stating she had no idea how they wound up in her jewelry box, so my girlfriend began to feel angry at me for blaming her daughter, persecuting me but making me the persecutor and her daughter the victim and my girlfriend the rescuer of her daughter.

My girlfriend and her daughter not taking responsibility keeps us all in the triangle.
– Patty Fleener, MSW

* * * * *

A good example of the game could be this fictitious argument between John and Mary, a married couple. V = victim, R = rescuer, P = persecutor

John: I can’t believe you burnt dinner! That’s the third time this month! (P)
Mary: Well, little Johnny fell and skinned his knee. Dinner burned while I was busy getting him a bandage. (R)
John: You baby that boy too much! (P)
Mary: You wouldn’t want him to get an infection, would you? I’d end up having to take care of him while he was sick. (V)
John: He’s big enough to get his own bandage. (R)
Mary: I just didn’t want him bleeding all over the carpet. (R)
John: You know, that’s the problem with these kids? They expect you to do everything (R)
Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: I work like a dog all day at a job I hate…(V)
Mary: Yes, you do work very hard, dear. (R)
John: And I can’t even sit down to a good dinner! (V)
Mary: I can cook something else, it won’t take too long. (R)
John: A waste of an expensive steak! (P)
Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P)
John: You didn’t say anything! How was I supposed to know? (P)
Mary: As if you couldn’t hear Johnny crying? You always ignore the kids! (P)
John: I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: Sure, as if taking care of the house and kids isn’t work! (P)

This argument could continue indefinitely. What is of interest is how one can remove oneself from the triangle. The simplest method is the non-defensive response. This works at any point no matter what the role the other person is taking as it doesn’t give a cue as to the next response.

For instance:

Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P
John: Yes, that’s true.

Although Mary may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to scolded, if John continues in the same vein, Mary will eventually run out of things to say. John’s calm response invites discussion rather than continued wrangling. Mary might realize that she didn’t ask him for help, and they might well be a le to resolve the situation by planning on a course of action should something similar arise in the future.

It works just as well for the victim role:

John I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: I’m sorry you’re feeling so tired.

This acknowledges any real problem the other person might have without continuing the dance. Again, the other person may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to complain, but again, with continued non-defensive response, the other person will run out of things to say.

Even the rescuer role can be treated in the same manner.

Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: Yes, they are young.

Other excellent non-defensive response:

“I see.”
“You may be right.”
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle


Because we all have unconscious core beliefs about ourselves and how to interact with other acquired in the relational dynamics of our families of origin, getting out of the drama triangle requires conscious awareness of any roles, victim, rescuer, persecutor or any others that we identify with and might be playing out currently, the capacity to discern healthier non-defensive, non-shaming-blaming responses when we sense we’re getting sucked into the roles of the triangle, and a willingness to take responsibility for our perceptions, reactions and behaviors when we wake up and know we are in the triangle.

This is basic wiser self application of our mindfulness practice to notice, acknowledge patterns, stepping back to reflect on them and the consequences of the, then dis-identify with them, not perpetuating the cycle, choosing wiser responses or behaviors.

Not to duck out of offering relevant exercises here, but the exercises in Chapter 16: Using Reflection to Identify Options in my book Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being are exactly the kinds of applications of your mindfulness practice that will help you get out of the triangle, or deal directly with anyone who is trying to pull you in.


Karpman Drama Triangle the official website of Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle

A Game Free Life: the Drama Triangle and Compassion Triangle by Stephan Karpman, M.D. 2014.

Karpman Drama Triangle – Wikipedia

“The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest.

Breaking the Drama Triangle by John Goulet, MFT


The End of Sex

Verified by Psychology Today

When evolution, human sexuality, and the Western world collide.

Posted Oct 06, 2019

Note: This guest post is co-authored by Marianne Brandon and James Simon, with an epilogue by Glenn Geher.

His wife had gone to bed early, so he locked the basement door to ensure privacy. He had planned this moment all day. Unlike his wife, who seemingly had lost interest in sex years ago, his lover was waiting downstairs, eager to please. Never critical or demanding, with such soft eyes and skin, sex had become such a pleasure. He had even come to love the way his lover pronounced his name. In spite of being a robot, she somehow managed to say it with such tenderness. . .

Panajiotis Pixabay
Source: Panajiotis Pixabay

We have become a massive, unintended sexual experiment. Our understanding of sex and gender is evolving at astonishing rates. Paradoxically, as powerful, exhilarating, and necessary as this process is for our collective future, we are simultaneously at a perilous moment for the future of intimacy and intimate relationships.

Forcing sex into a politically correct paradigm annihilates it. 

Sexual frequency today is less than all prior decades studied—at least, people are having less sex with their partners. Rates of sexual dissatisfaction and sexual dysfunction are astoundingly high. This is due to a variety of factors that are merging to create a perfect storm—technological advances, mobile lifestyles, increasing daily tasks, rising expectations for long-term relationships, and information overload.

Yet there is something even more fundamentally awry. The very empowering of women and the culturally valued softening of men has suddenly created a new way of engaging in the bedroom as much as in the boardroom, and our evolutionary psychology has not caught up. This is a serious social problem because intimacy is not an expendable aspect of humanity.

Our insistence that men and women are more alike than different is true in almost all aspects of living, except for sex. Human sexuality—the sexuality of all mammals in general and primates in particular—has primal, biological roots. And when people work with, rather than against, these instincts, their sex gets better. Gender equality does not imply gender equivalence—at least, not in the bedroom.

The extraordinary gains provided by the feminist movement have been a thrilling first in modern history. Women’s expectations about sex have appropriately changed: They demand more pleasure from sex and an equal romantic partnership; women are more comfortable engaging in sexually open behaviors, including hook-ups and sexual experimentation.

It is not just women who have benefited. In contrast to old-fashioned, male sexual stereotypes, many mature men today enjoy sexually assertive women. They appreciate a social climate that supports releasing restrictive pressures always to be ready and interested in sex: always having to be the sexual initiator, and being responsible for their partners’ sexual pleasure. These shifts are reflected in many men gravitating to sexual relationships with older women, their interest in being the primary caretaker of their children, and a decreased concern with being the primary breadwinner of a household.

Many men are pleased to have escaped the pressure of old-fashioned stereotypes of masculinity—being eternally dominant, carrying the financial burden of the household, having a reduced role in parenting, and avoiding emotional expression. And those who identify with a non-binary sexual identity may now live authentically, with freedom of self-expression.

In spite of these many hard-fought liberties for all genders, in some surprising and very significant ways, sex has become more complicated. In the privacy of our respective psychological medical practices, we regularly hear women say, “In the bedroom, he is passive. Almost meek. It’s hard to respect him, let alone have sex with him!” Or, “He’s so cautious and hesitant in the bedroom! It’s such a turnoff.”

Outside of sexual role play in certain fetishistic circles, for most women, there is no pleasure in sexually dominating a weaker partner. For women in long-term, committed relationships, the exquisite feeling of sexual surrender may paradoxically be more likely to unfold with men who express their sensuality in a more bold, self-assured style—literally, when she’s not the strongest force in the bedroom.

The truth is that modern women enjoy the more lusty, primal aspects of love-making. Polite sex holds little interest for them—they’d rather do the dishes. And what about men? Despite the valuable outing of abhorrent men via #MeToo, our culture is filled with men who respect women, and who long to share fulfilling sexual relationships with the women they love.

These men have learned that to show respect to their female partners, they should obtain verbal permission for sex, and to avoid at all costs any behavior in the bedroom that may be regarded as aggressive or dominant. This sounds right in theory. Yet behind the closed doors of our offices, wives and girlfriends experience these men as passive and uninteresting in the bedroom. And before long, sex ceases.

What we are failing to recognize is that exciting, primal sex in a trusting, respectful relationship requires the same elements we vilify in men today. We teach men to contain their sexual interest, resist assertive overtures, and hide their sexual longing. How confusing it must be for a man to develop a sensitive, responsive, polite sexual style, only to be ultimately told by the woman he marries that he is a boring and uninteresting lover. How depressing for a woman who is confident and secure in her sexuality to feel sexually unmet by the man who is to be her sexual playmate for a lifetime.

Experiencing her partner’s sexual confidence and longing is a fundamental aspect of good sex for a majority of women. Stripping men of their sexual assertiveness diffuses women’s sexual pleasure. Women are not experiencing this shift in their relationship and sexual dynamics as empowering. They are grief-stricken over what their lives are missing.

In our noble efforts to make sex politically correct, we are ignoring a fundamental aspect of sexuality. Exciting sex—primal sex—emanates from the more ancient biology we share with other mammals. Our biological nature has instilled in all male and female mammals some basic, unique instincts that make them want sex. Human bodies continue to respond to sexual triggers as our ancestors did, thousands of years ago.

Our combination of an evolved cerebral cortex coupled with our primitive sexual biology presents interesting and often challenging scenarios for us all. While our minds have matured and evolved to think in very different ways than our primate ancestors, our bodies continue to receive sexual marching orders from our more primitive brain regions. Herein lies the potential for infinite difficulty. Without comfort with our most basic sexual instincts as male or female, it is challenging to build a creative sexual repertoire with a beloved long-term partner.

Without sex, couples describe themselves as best friends. Proud as such couples may be of feeling close and connected, they lack the desire to make love. What’s at stake here is something very basic to our humanity—our deepest connection to our chosen other, and to our own sexual selves.

We are heading down a dangerous path, yet we also have before us an extraordinary opportunity. For the first time in history, because of the equality and respect prompted by the feminist movement, we have the capacity to manifest extraordinary sex in long-term, committed relationships. Triumphantly, a woman can now choose to feel vulnerable during sex, because it feels good—not because she is forced into that role.

Exploring sex and relationships from an evolutionary perspective does not imply that men and women are destined to return to fixed sexual roles. An immutable sexual style would be unappealing for most modern couples. But comfort in our most basic instincts enables couples to manifest potent sexual reflexes that have more recently been denied.

Our next undertaking as feminists, male and female, is to return to our core and collect what is precious that we have lost in these last decades of battle. Our efforts to make sex less about the primal brain and, instead, more politically correct, are forcing exciting sex onto a darker playground. Increasingly, men and women are seeking outlets for their primal sexual energy that can be damaging to their intimate relationships, such as overuse of porn and extramarital affairs.

Sex robots will soon offer non-critical, always-available alternatives for those who find sexual relationships uncomfortably complex, anxiety-provoking, or just too much hassle. Technology can accomplish what sex used to—procreation and sexual satisfaction.

This future is not simply a sci-fi story. It is the next logical step from where we are. However, we can choose a different path. Passionate love-making and intimacy do not have to be a casualty of our social growth. Harnessing sexual instincts within a trusting, mutually respectful, intimate relationship can offer the glue that keeps intimacy strong and desirable. It feeds more than our sexual needs; it feeds the soul of our humanity.

Epilogue, by Glenn Geher

Understanding our sexuality is foundational to understanding the human experience. The nature of human sexuality evolved over millennia. Reproduction is as basic as any process when it comes to the living world.

Cultural evolution, which is ultimately a product of our biological evolution, progresses at a rapid pace compared with the pace of organic evolution. Cultural evolution is exciting and profound. As Drs. Brandon and Simon have articulated so clearly here, norms surrounding relationships and sexuality, resulting from cultural evolution, have been advancing at breakneck speed over the past several decades, leading to all kinds of novel attitudes, beliefs, and technologies.

While our brave new world has lots of amazing new opportunities and affordances for all of us, we need to always keep in mind that the modern world is deeply mismatched from ancestral human conditions in many important ways. (For more, see, Positive Evolutionary Psychology, by Geher & Wedberg.) And evolutionary mismatch often leads to problems.

When modern technology and human mating meet head-on, as is the case with sex robots and pornography, we need to look before we leap. Our evolved relationship psychology is the result of thousands of generations of organic evolution. As Drs. Brandon and Simon warn, we ignore our evolved sexual psychology to our own peril.

Marianne Brandon is a clinical psychologist and Diplomat in sex therapy. She is the author of Monogamy: The Untold Story, co-author of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido, and author of the ebook Unlocking the Sexy In Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life, as well as professional articles exploring evolutionary theory and sexuality, the challenges of monogamy, gender differences in sexual expression, and aging and sex.

James Simon is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and he is the current President of the International Society for Study of Women’s Sexual Health. Simon served as principal investigator on more than 300 clinical trials, research grants, and scholarships in the area of women’s health. He has consistently been ranked as a top doctor nationally and internationally.

Facebook image: silverkblackstock/Shutterstock

52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage | HuffPost

I really like the premise of this book. I have often recommended couples email each other as it seems the only way they have been able to productively communicate in the past.  This book explains why and gives lots of assistance to get started!!


Source: 52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage Can Help You And Your Partner Reconnect | HuffPost

My book guides you step by step through emails that you and your partner can exchange, every day or once a week or just once ever, that are designed to help you learn about each other on a deeper level.  As you all know, over time, couples start to struggle with a feeling that I call monotogamy, and that leads to feelings of disconnectionloneliness, boredom, resentment, and even anger and sadness.  Couples start to use small talk or logistical household management talk as their primary modes of communication.  (And that’s not counting sarcasm and sniping.) Especially for the classic couple The Wife Who Wants More And Her Annoyingly Satisfied Husband, or its gender inverse, this can be horribly frustrating.

52 Emails aims to bring some of the best parts of couples counseling into a less intimidating form.  You get to connect with your partner, talking about topics you may not have discussed since your early relationship, if ever.  And you don’t have to spend your time or money on a couples counselor, or convince a recalcitrant partner to attend therapy.

Writing can be much less awkward than face-t0-face conversations, and it has much less potential to escalate.  People can take the time they need to express themselves in a well thought out way, without fear of mockery or interruption.  Whenever I give my couples clients writing assignments, they invariably end up going deeper and learning more about their partners than they expected to.

This book covers a range of topics, including sex, parenting, memories of each other, money, expectations for the future, infidelity, trust, and communication. I even go into the pursuer-distancer dynamic in one of the chapters.  You can do all the emails (one a week would take you a year) or just the ones that relate to your individual situation as a couple. I designed the book to be flexible and easy to read, for anyone who is motivated to introspect and grow closer with their partner.  And it is an interesting read, I think, especially because I have example emails for each topic, between members of a fictional couple (the emails are derived from a conglomeration of different types of clients I have seen over the years).

I am so excited to share this book with you guys, my supportive Dr. Psych Mom community.  I would love to hear your experiences with it when you try it with your partners.  Let me know if you order it!  And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, And Just When Your Husband Thought He Could Watch The Game In Peace, You Bring Out The Email Idea.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Learn about Dr. Rodman’s private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.


Psychology Blogger: Dr. Psych Mom

This is a great site with lots of questions answered quite well by the blooger. She has a couple books I am ordering presently, ; ).


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Good Couples Therapy Looks Like This… –

I like this article for its simplicity and guidance.


Source: Good Couples Therapy Looks Like This… –

By Daniel Dashnaw

What Does Good Couples Therapy Look Like?

It’s 2019.

Happy New Year!

So you’ve both decided to start couples therapy. Good for you.

Are you ready? Maybe it’s overdue. And you’re probably asking yourself “what will this be like for us?”

It’s a fair question.  The best couples therapy is research-driven and science-based. There’s a lot of really bad couples therapy out there. And few distressed spouses enter couples therapy without fearing failure. 

I wrote this post to help you both understand some of the most fundamental “Best Practices” of effective couples therapy.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Protects You From Going Off the Rails.

Good couples therapy isn’t squishy.

good couples therapyWhat happens if you go at each other in couples therapy just like you do when you’re at home?

Some “All-Purpose” Therapists will utterly lack the courage to call you out on it.

I tell my couples from the get-go that they ‘re safer on my sofa than they are at home.

A good couples therapist always has a skilled handle on the throttle of emotion. Because emotional regulation is perhaps the most fundamental concern in early couples therapy.

If your couples therapist can’t hold it together you won’t either. It is also the most essential skill for couples to acquire.

Because if I can’t offer safety to both spouses, I can’t be a good couples therapist. Period.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Doesn’t Tolerate Contempt or Disrespect Between the Two of You. 

This is obviously related to protecting you. “All-Purpose” Therapists are often inclined to be passive and hang back.

A skilled couples therapist will not do that. Once the assessment is over, and couples therapy is well underway, they will jump in and interrupt. Good couples therapy isn’t deferential or polite in the face of vicious, contemptuous attacks.

And they won’t surprise you..they’ll tell you that they’re going to do this well in advance. Couples therapy is not always a polite conversation. We try our best to never be rude, but sometimes we will interrupt you for your own good.

  • A Good Couples Therapist will Help You to See Your “Demon Dance”

The more…the more. “The more she says this …the more I say that.” Good couples therapy promotes curiosity about how you set each other off.  If you’re in the hands of a good couples therapist, you’ll see blaming, shaming, criticizing, and finger pointing in a new light. The fancy term for this is “circular causality.”

A circular interpretation of marital problems looks like this:  Mary influences John, and John in his response, influences Mary. The cycle is ongoing. It could be either a vicious or virtuous cycle. A good couples therapist will help you unpack your cycle. In fact, identifying your repetitive toxic cycle is one of the essential tasks of science-based couples therapy.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Won’t Just Say “Stop Doing That.”

good couples therapyI may be dating myself here, but do you remember the old “Bob Newhart Show” from the mid-70’s?

His client would discuss some self-defeating chronic behavior and Bob’s only therapeutic intervention was to shout…

“well...STOP DOING IT!”

Some therapists aren’t much better than Bob.

The most beautiful word in couples therapy is the word…instead.

What would you like to feel…do…or… be instead?

A good couples therapist will focus on skill-building. They will also work to help you choose, construct, and install new habits.

It’s not just about insight into why you’re triggered in a toxic way, it’s about being on purpose as a partner, and learning a new skill instead of the senselessly reactive way you’ve been behaving up to now.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Teaches you to Fish.

good couples therapyYour therapist’s primary job is to help you find your own, improved way of interacting. They’re not a problem-solver. They’re a skill-builder.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Focuses on the “Take Away.”

A good couples therapist will offer you insight that will instigate growth. And growth will help you to not only understand why you react the way you do, but it will also give you more options about what to do instead. Couples therapy that works is behavior-based as well as insight-based.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Notices Everything.

Good couples therapy will notice and celebrate any hallmarks of change. They wisely choose what to attend to in each session. They notice deficits, but they don’t focus on them exclusively.

Their language is not “problem-saturated.” They notice what’s improving and they are not shy about calling attention to it. They are cheerleaders for change. But they credit the couple.

They don’t foster dependence on their insight. They tell couples that they can notice the good as well. As a result, couples start to feel “the win.”  They build positive momentum and appreciate their partner’s changed stance in real time.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Holds Tightly onto the Steering Wheel.

If you think your couples therapy isn’t going anywhere, maybe it’s not. The problem may be you. You may have entered couples therapy with a “mixed agenda.” That’s not your fault. It’s the job of a good couples therapist to assess your marriage beforehand with skill and frankness.

Good couples therapy stays in the lane. it’s not all over the road. It knows where it is going. Their GPS is always focused on providing an opportunity for Greater Partner Skill. The destination is clear. They always know exactly where they’re going.

good couples therapy

  •  A Good Couples Therapist is Compassionately Curious About Your Early Life Experience.

How did you become the partner and parent you are today?

One place. Your family of origin.

A good couples therapist will help you gain actionable insight into how your nervous system was shaped by your early life experience.

  • A Good Couples Therapist is a Hope Monger.

A good couples therapist will relentlessly point out how you are changing, growing, and improving. They will celebrate who you are becoming. They always have their eyes on the prize and invite you to both do so as well.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Likes You…and You Like Them Right Back.

As if all the above wasn’t hard enough, a good couples therapist will like you and be likable. This is a “Therapeutic Alliance” that required trust and goodwill. If you’d don’t honestly feel that your couples therapist is rooting for you, you won’t be able to trust enough in the therapeutic relationship to work as hard as you’re capable of working.

What does good couples therapy look like? It looks like the two of you at your best.

Are You Ready for Good Couples Therapy?

Call us for more information 844-926-8753 to reach me, Daniel Dashnaw, use option 2.

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires…) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

Related Posts

Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

This is one of those great articles about letting go of stuff, otherwise know as “clearing”. I like the simple process described below. helps couples clear the residue of resentment.


Source: Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

Have you ever heard of clearing exercises?

They are the single greatest ways for couples to reconnect, work through arguments, and tap into a sense of clarity and ease in their relationship.

Throughout the course of a relationship, many unspoken things can accumulate and begin to turn into emotional and energetic clutter that starts to muddy the connection in the relationship. Clearing is a process that brings forth the heavy residue and clears it out in a simple, efficient, and durable way.

I have witnessed years of tension melt out of a couple in a matter of minutes via clearing exercises.

So much of the miscommunication that occurs in partnership is a result of people not truly hearing their partner. Especially during arguments, it is very common for people to not listen to their partner but merely wait for their turn to verbalize the rehearsed thoughts that they have tumbling around in their mind. In it’s essence, clearing is an exercise about slowing down and engaging in deep listening.

So, how can you get this magic into your arsenal? Let’s get into it.

How To Do A Clearing Exercise

young beautiful couple, being in love, clearing, clearing exercise

The structure is simple…

You and your partner sit opposite each other, while making eye contact, and you take turns finishing specific sentence stems, while the receiving partner simply listens.

The basic format of clearing is the following:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

There are certain alterations you can make depending on the situation, but this is the core format for a reason.

The first section (‘Something I want you to know is…’) is a general clearing. You allow yourself to reveal your thoughts to your partner, no matter how scary they may seem in your head.

The second section (‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’) is about owning your projections. It’s one thing to reactively shout at your partner “You’re so stubborn!”… and a whole other thing entirely to calmly clear with them by saying, “Something that I see in you that I see in myself is stubbornness.” By owning the projection fully and seeing it as a thing that you and your partner both have a capacity for, it reduces a lot of the energetic charge around it (when done authentically).

The final section (‘Something I like about you is…’) is about connecting and reestablishing rapport. Don’t spend too much time in this section unless you and your partner are really in the middle of a nasty fight. Clearing isn’t about racing towards pleasantries or engaging in spiritual bypassing… it’s about saying what is true. Even if that truth sometimes hurts a little bit.

So how this would go structurally is that partner ‘A’ would have their turn to go through steps 1, 2, and 3 fully, while partner B received. I would also recommend that Partner B says thank you after each completed statement from partner A (‘thank you’ signifying having heard them, not necessarily agreeing with their statements).

So, putting it all together, it would look something like this.

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that I’m still hurting about the time that you flirted with that person in front of me, and there’s a part of me that feels unsafe with you.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that my sex drive has been lower lately because of the work stress that I’m currently going through… and I frequently judge myself harshly and make myself wrong for it.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a tendency to be dismissive of people based on their differences.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a fierce streak of stubbornness.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is your willingness to do clearing exercises with me, and that you’re always willing to lean into the tough stuff in our relationship.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is how you wiggle yourself over to me in the mornings when you first wake up.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then, both of you take 1-3 deep breaths each (ideally in sync with each other), and then partner B takes over and partner A listens.

A clearing process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and the emotional freedom that results from it can be astounding.

7 Different Sentence Stems For Different Clearing Scenarios

While the core structure is sound, there may be times where you want something a bit more targeted to what you’re going through.

The structure in terms of timing/listening/one-at-a-time-ness should always remain a constant… but the words are allowed to change based on the scenario. Here are some examples of other types of clearings you may want to engage in.

Clearing Stems When Diffusing Fights

‘Something I’m angry about you with is…’

‘Something I’m afraid to tell you is…’

‘Something I’m upset with you about is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

Clearing Stems When Wanting To Boost Connection And Rapport

‘Something I’m excited about with you is…’

‘Something I admire in you is…’

‘Something I appreciate about you is…’

‘Something I’m looking forward to in our relationship is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

How Often Should You Do Clearings With Your Partner?

While clearing sessions are potent and valuable… the point of an intimate relationship isn’t to be constantly processing each other. If you feel the benefits from your first clearing session and feel a yearning to do this on a daily basis, it’s generally better if you resist it. I find that clearing sessions have more value when you do them intermittently.

I would recommend doing them on a semi-regular basis (2-5 times per month) and also doing them on an as-needed basis (i.e. when an argument comes up and you want to slow down and really dig into the truth of what is happening between the two of you).


Partner A:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Partner B:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Sit, make eye contact, listen, thank them, breathe deeply… and your relationship will benefit faster than you ever thought possible.

Common side effects include increased feelings of well-being and relationship harmony, and boosted libido and desire to maul your partner.

What now? Send this article to your partner. Put your first clearing session in your calendar. Sit down across from each other, and do it.

Dedicated to your success,


Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll likely also love reading:

6 Connection Exercises For Couples To Build Intimacy

50 Powerful Romantic Gestures That Will Make Your Partner Melt

10 Questions To Ask To Go Deep In Your Relationship

The Cycle of Anger in Relationships

I really like this article!!



by: Arash EmamzadehF

A new study examines a model of how anger is perpetuated in relationships.

Posted Jan 15, 2019SHARE

new study by Liu et al., published in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, examines such a model of cyclical anger in romantic partners. In this post, I describe the authors’ model, and summarize the findings of their empirical investigation. I end with suggestions to break the vicious cycle of angry feelings and damaging behavior in relationships.1

The Cycle of Anger in Relationships

According to the authors’ dyadic model of anger in relationships, being mistreated by one’s romantic partner evokes anger, and that anger can motivate reciprocation of the mistreatment, eventually resulting in a cycle of destructive behavior and rage.

Let us examine this model in more detail.

Adapted from Liu et al., 2018 (Arash Emamzadeh)

Source: Adapted from Liu et al., 2018 (Arash Emamzadeh)

As indicated by Path A (Figure 1, top left section), feelings of anger sometimes trigger destructive behaviors — critical, cold, and selfish behaviors. These behaviors differ from respectful and constructive criticism, which focuses on the issue and does not attack the individual. In contrast, destructive behaviors are experienced as disrespectful, hostile, demanding, invalidating, rejecting, or blaming.

To see how destructive behaviors might initiate the cycle of anger in romantic relationships, let us imagine the following scenario: Partner A and B have financial problems. One day, A comes home from work to find B drinking a very expensive alcoholic beverage. Furious, instead of giving B a chance to explain, A resorts to destructive behaviors (e.g., name-calling). See Figure 1, middle section, top rectangle.

At this juncture, what might fuel the cycle of anger is B’s accurate perception of A’s behavior. Is there a high likelihood that B will correctly perceive the destructiveness in A’s behavior? Yes. According to previous research, romantic partners are good at identifying each other’s conflict-related response styles. So B can easily tell whether A is being hostile or providing constructive criticism.

The cycle of anger usually continues down Path C (Figure 1, right side) because Person A’s antagonistic behavior, once correctly perceived by Person B, elicits B’s anger. It is natural that B should feel angry, because when people sense that others are being rejecting (instead of responsive and supportive), they feel indignant.

Note that this path we have been following — from A to B to C — could be initiated by the other partner too (Figure 1, starting from the bottom right corner and moving left). Just as Partner A’s anger can result in A behaving destructively, Partner B’s anger might also motivate B to behave in a destructive manner.

Therefore, the cycle can be set in motion from different points. But the results might be the same: perpetuating the cycle of destructive behavior and anger, and intensifying negative emotions and abusive actions — perhaps to a point where neither partner recalls the initial source of anger which set this destructive cycle of rage in motion.

Josethestoryteller/Pixabay/Arash Emamzadeh (modifications)

Source: Josethestoryteller/Pixabay/Arash Emamzadeh (modifications)

An Empirical Test of the Cycle of Anger

The present research tested this cycle of anger empirically. The sample consisted of 96 heterosexual couples who were undergraduates at a U.S. university (average age of 23 years; 79 percent Caucasian; 82 percent dating, 14 percent married).

Participants completed intake measures and daily questionnaires for a week. The daily questionnaires measured participants’ experiences of anger, destructive behaviors (e.g., being selfish, insulting, cold) toward their romantic partners, and perceptions of their partners’ destructive behaviors. Also assessed was the personality trait of agreeableness (related to being trusting, cooperative, and friendly).

Analysis of the data was performed using multi-level modeling. All three hypotheses of the researchers were supported: Partner A’s daily anger toward Partner B predicted A’s destructive behaviors toward B; A’s destructive behaviors toward B predicted B’s perceptions of destructive behaviors; and B’s perception of A’s destructive actions predicted B’s anger.

Relationship commitment did not influence the results. Trait agreeableness did affect the results, but only when the level of anger expressed was low.

Agreeableness was associated with a reduced tendency to engage in antagonistic behavior, treating partners with less antagonism, and lastly, participants feeling less angry when their misbehaving partners were highly agreeable.

How Do You Break the Cycle of Anger?

You can disrupt the self-perpetuating cycle of destruction and anger between you and your romantic partner by weakening the links under influence. How?

For one, if you reappraise your partner’s behavior more positively, you might weaken the link between your perception of the behavior and the resultant feelings of anger inside you.

For example, when you find your romantic partner drinking an expensive beverage, you could reframe the drinking as an exception to the many ways your partner has been contributing and helping you cut costs. In this mindset, you can still discuss the drink, but you will be much less likely to resort to insults, threats, and other harmful behavior. Why? Because you will be less angry. Compare this mindset with thinking, “You are drinking that out of spite!”

Additionally, it is helpful to activate friendly thoughts — thoughts related to support, kindness, and compromise, not rejection or retaliation. That is what people high in agreeableness do instinctively.2

And when you are ready to express your anger, do so in a more constructive manner. Even when you do not feel enraged, you may be unintentionally angering your partner by using profanities or using words like never, always, worst, etc. In contrast, by expressing your anger more constructively and focusing on your own feelings, you are less likely to provoke your partner and fuel or initiate the vicious cycle.1 

In conclusion, the cycle of anger may be broken at several points. This requires at least one of the two partners to act mindfully and refuse to participate in the cycle of destructive behavior.

When neither partner is mindful, the cycle of anger might be perpetuated, harming both romantic partners and their relationship — sometimes irreversibly. So, if you struggle with controlling your anger, consider learninganger-management techniques, and if your anger is out of control, consider seeing a therapist.

Facebook Image Credit: MilanMarkovic78/Shutterstock

3 Important Ways Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

I like this article.  ; )


Source: 3 Important Ways Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

The couples therapist relationship is complex because your couples therapist has a unique and important role.

Choose carefully.

The therapeutic alliance is the most important factor in couples therapy. The research confirming this point is solid.

Permit me to repeat myself…that’s why you should choose your couples therapist very carefully.

The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said, “every battle is won before it is ever fought.” He also said, “victory usually goes to the army which has better-trained officers and men.” There is a direct connection between training, therapeutic skill and the capacity to form a solid therapeutic alliance.

The outcome of your couples therapy may rely on who you choose to be your couples therapist.

Your battle with marital unhappiness may be won or lost… before it is even fought.

Why Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

Nearly 60 years ago, Dr. Ralph Greenson was a psychiatrist to many troubled but prominent Hollywood stars. He was also the clinical professor of medicine at thetherapist-relationship University of California in Los Angeles. A brilliant academic and scholar, in 1965 he opined that therapeutic relationships were different than ordinary everyday relationships in 3 specific ways:

The Relationship Has a Specific Purpose. The only reason you are even meeting with your couples therapist is that you are agreeing to work together for a clear and stated purpose.

It may be a State of the Union assessment, perhaps leading to Discernment Counseling, or a Couples Therapy Intensive but you have a clear, specific, purpose in mind.

The Relationship is Imaginative and Explorative. Dr. Greenson used the term “fictive.”  We explore what is ardently desired, and what is actually possible. I think one of the most beautiful words in couples therapy is the word “instead.” We talk about what “instead” might look like in your marriage.

The relationship with your couples therapist explores alternative and aspirational versions of yourselves in a possible new relationship with each other.

If you’ve chosen well, your couples therapist can fully inhabit this expansive role. During a Couples Therapy Intensive, you are engaged in generative conversations which are both imaginative, but authentic and heartfelt at the same time.

The Relationship is Real.  Good couples therapy involves 3 people being authentic and real with each other. The therapist uses their “self” as a tool, offering genuine responses and reflections. The skill required of your couples therapist is to fully participate… and yet carefully observe at the same time.

What Makes for a Solid Couples Therapist Relationship?

In a word…attunement. Each spouse must feel supported and feel that I deeply “get them.”

They should see me… seeing them.

I notice their emotional states. I respond. When it’s going well, they feel known. Heard. Seen.

Researchers Bruce, Manber, Shapiro & Constantino, (2010). described it simply but beautifully; they said when a strong therapeutic bond has been firmly established, clients “feel felt.” therapist-relationship

When it happens, a solid therapist relationship may surprise clients.

Some, (men in particular), neither expect or comprehend this experience of attunement.

They were expecting to be ganged up on, and identified as the “designated problem.”

However, if I can hold their experience in the container of my own experience, space for something new can now emerge.

Fears can recede. A feeling of safety can abide. But first I must attend to accurately understanding their experience, and convey that understanding without judgment. They must notice their own feeling states in my responses.

What Does the Research Say about Your Couples Therapist Relationship Alliance?

Bruce Wampold is an Emeritus Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Dr. Wampold carefully reviewed all of the known the research examining the quality of the therapeutic alliance.

“There is no other variable that has been assessed early in therapy that predicts final outcome better than the alliance”  Bruce Wampold

Research Findings on the Importance of a Solid Therapist Relationship Alliance

  • The average difference in therapist relationship alliance skills completely accounts for the difference in outcomes between one therapist and another.
  • The client-therapist relationship is at the center of outcomes, no matter who rates the therapist relationship. But is always highest when rated by the clients.
  • Early progress in couples therapy is related to a more favorable outcome, but the quality of the therapeutic relationship is a larger factor in predicting a favorable outcome than the actual early gains themselves.
  • Amazingly, sometimes the therapeutic alliance trumps medication. One study on the therapist relationship discovered that if a psychiatrist with an excellent therapeutic relationship gives the client a placebo, the client feels better than when a psychiatrist with a poorer client-therapist relationship gives the client a real anti-depressant.
  • The earlier the client-therapist relationship is established, the better the clinical outcome.

therapist-relationshipTwo Pillars of a Good Couples Therapist Relationship: Attunement and Empathy

The therapist models empathy for each spouse so they can re-discover what it might feel like to have empathy for each other once more.

This is a core concept in Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy.

Because we ask so much of our clients in preparation for a Couples Therapy Intensive, therapeutic attunement and empathy may begin before the first actual meeting.

That is why careful and complete assessment is such a fundamental part of science-based couples therapy.

I may know more about my couple as they are driving up the driveway to start our intensive than some of the most important people in their emotional worlds.

I only know because they want me to know. They took pains to tell me their story in their Big Big Book.

It’s an honor, a privilege, and a great responsibility to be chosen to help a couple mend and heal their intimate bond.

When I greet them I know that our meeting will have a purpose. We will explore the realm of “instead.” And we will be real.


About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires…) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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Walking on Eggshells: 8 Reasons You’re Doing It | Depression Alliance

Source: Walking on Eggshells: 8 Reasons You’re Doing It | Depression Alliance


What Does Walking on Eggshells Mean?

Have you ever lived or worked with someone whose moods and outbursts can be unpredictable? The littlest thing can seem to set them off. They go on an emotional tangent completely out of proportion or context to what is really going on. You are always wary of what you say and do just in case they overreact and become emotional, verbally, or physically abusive.

Do you recognize that feeling, that dread or hesitation to interact with someone? If you have, you are “walking on eggshells”.

The relationship anxiety you feel is high. You are wary of potentially tipping the balance of a seemingly innocent situation. It can switch to conflict or something toxic in an instant. Things can, and do, change at the drop of a hat. The fragility of someone else’s moods scares you. You may feel like you are on unstable ground, as if you walk on eggshells. You go out of your way to keep the peace, even to your own detriment.

Signs of an Emotionally Unstable Relationship

If you find you are walking on eggshells in any kind of relationship, that’s a red flag! It indicates that it is an unstable or an abusive relationship. Being upset is normal – from time to time. But, repeated behaviors can say something more serious is going on. Check whether you experience any of the below signs regularly. If you do, you may be in an emotionally unstable or toxic relationship:

  • Mood Checks: You check the other person’s mood before you speak. or do anything. Always. You do this just in case they react in anger or lash out.
  • Tension: You are always tense and on edge around the other person. You find it difficult to relax and be yourself. Emotions are running high all the time, and the other person has difficulty controlling their emotions.
  • Use of Humiliation and Sarcasm: You may feel put down and humiliated. This can be from the way the other person speaks to you or treats you. There may be suggestions that you are a lesser person, or not of an equal standing.
  • Non-Verbal Cues: You may be acutely aware of non-verbal cues that the other person is angry. There may be glaring looks, hand gestures, silence, evasiveness, or objects thrown around or handled aggressively.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behavior may be so frequent it has become the norm. There may be sudden life-altering decisions made that have no say or input into.
  • Extended Arguments: Disagreements and arguments that should be quickly resolved, aren’t. They will not let go, the dispute lasts for hours, days, or weeks. They just go on, and on, and on.
  • Excessive Self-Monitoring: You monitor and adapt your own actions constantly. This is in an attempt to prevent setting the other person off again. You find you second-guess yourself in every situation and scenario trying to anticipate how they may react.
  • Withdrawal from Others: In worst case scenarios with long-term emotional and physical abuse people withdraw into themselves. They may isolate themselves from friends and family. This is because they fear upsetting the other person. Or, because they begin to believe any negativity said to them about themselves.

Stop Walking on Eggshells! How to Deal with an Unstable Relationship

Walking on egg shells in any kind of relationship is not healthy. In both short and long-term situations, it can affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Any situation where you are on constant guard and dealing with stress and anger is not good for anyone.

Suggestions for how to deal with an unstable relationship include:

  • Self-Care: It may be the other person something going on that is causing their behavior. This is not your problem to fix. Support them with changes they want to make if you choose to do so, yes. If you are walking on eggshells for an extended period you need to focus on yourself first, and foremost. Show yourself some love and compassion. As the saying goes, first you save yourself.
  • Seek Support:  Professional support for yourself and the other person may help. There can be mental health conditions that cause this type of behavior. They may be clinically depressed or have a borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD or any similar conditions need professional guidance first to accept and understand the change needed. It can also happen with someone experiencing combat-related PTSD. If you feel you are in danger from a partner, seek help from friends you trust or a shelter.
  • Read Up On It: Check out books on related topics. Especially if you are in a relationship with someone diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder (BPD). Authors Paul Mason and Randi Kreger have a book that focuses on how to stop walking on eggshells and take your life back. This book focuses specifically on helping everyone involved. People with BPD or who display BPD traits, or other mental health conditions are in all walks of life. Other conditions include narcissistic personality disorder, emotional dysregulation disorder, and destructive disorder. They may include those you love — your parents, young children, adult children, or your partner. When younger you may have felt like your dad, or your mother never saw you as well-behaved children.  Your interpersonal relationships throughout life will benefit from knowing and understanding any conditions that affect personality.
  • Set Boundaries: Putting in some boundaries for yourself and the other person can help. Find ways to detach in situations where you know it is not your fault. Learn how to use different communication skills. Reflective listening will help you to kindly, and gently, show someone that what they are saying feels offensive. Or that it is not okay. Know your limits.

Feeling like you are walking on eggshells all the time is not a good place to be. Find ways to validate your self so your self-esteem does not suffer. Seek support and help from others. If you are in a long-term relationship with a family member or partner, seek solutions. Find ways that they are willing to accept to make positive improvements. This will help everyone’s health and well-being.

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Attachment in adults – Wikipedia

Source: Attachment in adults – Wikipedia

Attachment in adults

In psychology, the theory of attachment can be applied to adult relationships including friendships, emotional affairs, adult romantic or platonic relationships and in some cases relationships with inanimate objects (“transitional objects“).[1] Attachment theory, initially studied in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in the context of children and parents, was extended to adult relationships in the late 1980s.

Four main styles of attachment have been identified in adults:

  • secure
  • anxious-preoccupied
  • dismissive-avoidant
  • fearful-avoidant

Investigators have explored the organization and the stability of mental working models that underlie these attachment styles. They have also explored how attachment impacts relationship outcomes and how attachment functions in relationship dynamics.

Extending attachment theory

Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby founded modern attachment theory on studies of children and their caregivers. Children and caregivers remained the primary focus of attachment theory for many years. Then, in the late 1980s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver applied attachment theory to adult relationships.[2][3][4] Hazan and Shaver noticed that interactions between adults shared similarities to interactions between children and caregivers. For example, romantic or platonic partners desire to be close to one another. Adults feel comforted when their attachments are present and anxious or lonely when they are absent. Romantic relationships, for example, serve as a secure base that help people face the surprises, opportunities, and challenges life presents. Similarities such as these led Hazan and Shaver to extend attachment theory to adult relationships.

Relationships between adults differ in many ways from relationships between children and caregivers.[5] The claim is not that these two kinds of relationships are identical. The claim is that the core principles of attachment theory apply to both kinds of relationships.

Investigators tend to describe the core principles of attachment theory in light of their own theoretical interests. Their descriptions seem quite different on a superficial level. For example, Fraley and Shaver[6] describe the “central propositions” of attachment in adults as follows:

  • The emotional and behavioral dynamics of infant–caregiver relationships and adult relationships are governed by the same biological system.
  • The kinds of individual differences observed in infant–caregiver relationships are similar to the ones observed in various close adult relationships.
  • Individual differences in adult attachment behavior are reflections of the expectations and beliefs people have formed about themselves and their close relationships on the basis of their attachment histories; these “working models” are relatively stable and, as such, may be reflections of early caregiving experiences.
  • Romantic love, as commonly conceived, involves the interplay of attachment, caregiving and intimacy.

Compare this with the five “core propositions” of attachment theory listed by Rholes and Simpson:[7]

  • Although the basic impetus for the formation of attachment relationships is provided by biological factors, the bonds that children form with their caregivers are shaped by interpersonal experience.
  • Experiences in earlier relationships create internal working models and attachment styles that systematically affect attachment relationships.
  • The attachment orientations of adult caregivers influence the attachment bond their children have with them.
  • Working models and attachment orientations are relatively stable over time, but they are not impervious to change.
  • Some forms of psychological maladjustment and clinical disorders are attributable in part to the effects of insecure working models and attachment styles.

While these two lists clearly reflect the theoretical interests of the investigators who created them, a closer look reveals a number of shared themes. The shared themes claim that:

  • People are biologically driven to form attachments with others, but the process of forming attachments is influenced by learning experiences.
  • Individuals form different kinds of attachments depending on the expectations and beliefs they have about their relationships. These expectations and beliefs constitute internal “working models” used to guide relationship behaviors.
  • Internal “working models” are relatively stable even though they can be influenced by experience.
  • Individual differences in attachment can contribute positively or negatively to mental health and to the quality of relationships with others.

No doubt these themes could be described in a variety of ways (and other themes added to the list). Regardless of how one describes the core principles of attachment theory, the key insight is that the same principles of attachment apply to close relationships throughout the lifespan. The principles of attachment between children and caregivers are fundamentally the same as the principles of attachment between adults.


Adults are described as having 4 attachment styles: Secure, Anxious-preoccupied, Dismissive-avoidant, and Fearful-avoidant.

The secure attachment style in adults corresponds to the secure attachment style in children. The anxious–preoccupied attachment style in adults corresponds to the anxious-ambivalent attachment style in children. However, the dismissive-avoidant attachment style and the fearful-avoidant attachment style, which are distinct in adults, correspond to a single avoidant attachment style in children. The descriptions of adult attachment styles offered below are based on the relationship questionnaire devised by Bartholomew and Horowitz[8] and on a review of studies by Pietromonaco and Barrett.[9]

There are several attachment-based treatment approaches that can be used with adults.[10] In addition, there is an approach to treating couples based on attachment theory.[11]


ie: positive view of self and positive view of others [12]

Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: “It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or others not accepting me.” This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with their attachments. Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their attachments. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships. Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles. Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence.

Secure attachment and adaptive functioning are promoted by a caregiver who is emotionally available and appropriately responsive to his or her child’s attachment behavior, as well as capable of regulating both his or her positive and negative emotions.[13]



ie: negative view of self and positive view of others [14]

People with anxious-preoccupied attachment type tend to agree with the following statements: “I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like”, and “I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don’t value me as much as I value them.” People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their attachment figure. They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on the attachment figure. Compared with securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves. They may feel a sense of anxiousness that only recedes when in contact with the attachment figure. They often doubt their worth as a person and blame themselves for the attachment figure’s lack of responsiveness. People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, emotional dysregulation, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.


ie: positive view of self and negative view of others [15]

People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: “I am comfortable without close emotional relationships”, “It is important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient”, and “I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me.” People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with attachments, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (e.g. their attachments or relationships).


ie: unstable fluctuating/confused view of self and view of others [16]

People with losses or other trauma, such as sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence may often develop this type of attachment[17] and tend to agree with the following statements: “I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to completely trust others, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to other people.” They tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness, and the mixed feelings are combined with sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their attachments. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their attachments, and they don’t trust the intentions of their attachments. Similar to the dismissive-avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from attachments and frequently suppress and deny their feelings. Because of this, they are much less comfortable expressing affection.

Working models

Bowlby observed that children learn from their interactions with caregivers. Over the course of many interactions, children form expectations about the accessibility and helpfulness of their caregivers. These expectations reflect children’s thoughts about themselves and about their caregivers:

Confidence that an attachment figure is, apart from being accessible, likely to be responsive can be seen to turn on at least two variables: (a) whether or not the attachment figure is judged to be the sort of person who in general responds to calls for support and protection; (b) whether or not the self is judged to be the sort of person towards whom anyone, and the attachment figure in particular, is likely to respond in a helpful way. Logically, these variables are independent. In practice they are apt to be confounded. As a result, the model of the attachment figure and the model of the self are likely to develop so as to be complementary and mutually confirming. (Bowlby, 1973, p. 238)[18]

Children’s thoughts about their caregivers, together with thoughts about how deserving they are themselves of good care from their caregivers, form working models of attachment. Working models help guide behavior by allowing children to anticipate and plan for caregiver responses. Bowlby theorized that once formed, working models remain relatively stable. Children usually interpret experiences in the light of their working models, rather than change their working models to fit new experiences. However, when experiences cannot be interpreted in the light of their working models children may then modify their working models.

When Hazen and Shaver extended attachment theory to romantic relationships in adults, they also included the idea of working models. Research into adult working models has focused on two issues. First, how are the thoughts that form working models organized in the mind? Second, how stable are working models across time? These questions are briefly discussed below.

Organization of working models

Bartholomew and Horowitz have proposed that working models consist of two parts.[8] One part deals with thoughts about the self. The other part deals with thoughts about others. They further propose that a person’s thoughts about self are generally positive or generally negative. The same applies to a person’s thoughts about others. In order to test these proposals, Bartholomew and Horowitz have looked at the relationship between attachment styles, self-esteem, and sociability. The diagram below shows the relationships they observed:


Security-based strategy of affect regulation
(thoughts about self)
Positive Negative
(thoughts about others)
Positive Secure Anxious-preoccupied
Negative Dismissive-avoidant Fearful-avoidant

The secure and dismissive attachment styles are associated with higher self-esteem compared with the anxious and fearful attachment styles. This corresponds to the distinction between positive and negative thoughts about the self in working models. The secure and anxious attachment styles are associated with higher sociability than the dismissive or fearful attachment styles. This corresponds to the distinction between positive and negative thoughts about others in working models. These results suggested working models indeed contain two distinct domains—thoughts about self and thoughts about others—and that each domain can be characterized as generally positive or generally negative.

Baldwin and colleagues have applied the theory of relational schemas to working models of attachment. Relational schemas contain information about the way the attachment figure regularly interact with each other.[19][20] For each pattern of interaction that regularly occurs between partners, a relational schema is formed that contains:

  • information about the self
  • information about the attachment
  • information about the way the interaction usually unfolds.

For example, if a person regularly asks his or her partner for a hug or kiss, and the partner regularly responds with a hug or kiss, the person forms a relational schema representing the predictable interaction. The schema contains information about the self (e.g., “I need lots of physical affection”). It also contains information about the partner (e.g., “My partner is an affectionate person”). And it contains information about the way the interaction usually unfolds, which can be summarized by an if–then statement (e.g., “If I ask my partner for a hug or kiss, then my partner will respond with a hug or kiss and comfort me”). Relational schemas help guide behavior in relationships by allowing people to anticipate and plan for partner responses.

Baldwin and colleagues have proposed that working models of attachment are composed of relational schemas. The fact that relational schemas contain information about the self and information about others is consistent with previous conceptions of working models. The unique contribution of relational schemas to working models is the information about the way interactions with attachments usually unfold. Relational schemas add the if–then statements about interactions to working models. To demonstrate that working models are organized as relational schemas, Baldwin and colleagues created a set of written scenarios that described interactions dealing with trust, dependency and closeness.[21] For example, the scenarios for closeness included:

  • You want to spend more time with your attachment.
  • You reach out to hug or kiss your partner.
  • You tell your attachment how deeply you feel for him or her.

Following each scenario, people were presented with two options about how their attachments might respond. One option was “he/she accepts you.” The other option was “he/she rejects you.” People were asked to rate the likelihood of each response on a seven-point scale. Ratings of likely attachment responses corresponded to people’s attachment styles. People with secure attachment styles were more likely to expect accepting responses from their attachments. Their relational schema for the third closeness scenario would be, “If I tell my partner how deeply I feel for him or her, then my partner will accept me.” People with other attachment styles were less likely to expect accepting responses from their attachments. Their relational schema for the third closeness scenario would be, “If I tell my partner how deeply I feel for him or her, then my attachment will reject me.” Differences in attachment styles reflected differences in relational schemas. Relational schemas may therefore be used to understand the organization of working models of attachment, as has been demonstrated in subsequent studies.[22][23][24]

The relational schemas involved in working models are likely organized into a hierarchy. According to Baldwin:

A person may have a general working model of relationships, for instance, to the effect that others tend to be only partially and unpredictably responsive to one’s needs. At a more specific level, this expectation will take different forms when considering different role relationships, such as customer or romantic partner. Within romantic relationships, expectations might then vary significantly depending on the specific attachment, or the specific situation, or the specific needs being expressed. (Baldwin, 1992, p. 429).[19]

The highest level of the hierarchy contains very general relational schemas that apply to all relationships. The next level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas that apply to particular kinds of relationships. The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relationship schemas that apply to specific relationships.

In fact, several theorists have proposed a hierarchical organization of working models.[25][26][27][28][29] Pietromonaco and Barrett note:

From this perspective, people do not hold a single set of working models of the self and others; rather, they hold a family of models that include, at higher levels, abstract rules or assumptions about attachment relationships and, at lower levels, information about specific relationships and events within relationships. These ideas also imply that working models are not a single entity but are multifaceted representations in which information at one level need not be consistent with information at another level. (Pietromonaco & Barrett, 2000, page 159)[30]

Every hierarchy for working models includes both general working models (higher in the hierarchy) and relationship-specific working models (lower in the hierarchy). Studies have supported the existence of both general working models and relationship-specific working models. People can report a general attachment style when asked to do so, and the majority of their relationships are consistent with their general attachment style.[23] A general attachment style indicates a general working model that applies to many relationships. Yet, people also report different styles of attachments to their friends, parents and lovers.[31][32] Relationship-specific attachment styles indicate relationship-specific working models. Evidence that general working models and relationship-specific working models are organized into a hierarchy comes from a study by Overall, Fletcher and Friesen.[33]

In summary, the mental working models that underlie attachment styles appear to contain information about self and information about others organized into relational schemas. The relational schemas are themselves organized into a three-tier hierarchy. The highest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for a general working model that applies to all relationships. The middle level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models that apply to different types of relationships (e.g., friends, parents, lovers). The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models of specific relationships.

Stability of working modelsEdit

Investigators study the stability of working models by looking at the stability of attachment styles. Attachment styles reflect the thoughts and expectations that constitute working models. Changes in attachment styles therefore indicate changes in working models.

Around 70–80% of people experience no significant changes in attachment styles over time.[22][34][35][36][37] The fact that attachment styles do not change for a majority of people indicates working models are relatively stable. Yet, around 20–30% of people do experience changes in attachment styles. These changes can occur over periods of weeks or months. The number of people who experience changes in attachment styles, and the short periods over which the changes occur, suggest working models are not rigid personality traits.

Why attachment styles change is not well understood. Waters, Weinfield and Hamilton propose that negative life experiences often cause changes in attachment styles.[38] Their proposal is supported by evidence that people who experience negative life events also tend to experience changes in attachment styles.[34][39][40] Davila, Karney and Bradbury have identified four sets of factors that might cause changes in attachment styles: (a) situational events and circumstances, (b) changes in relational schemas, (c) personality variables, and (d) combinations of personality variables and situational events.[41] They conducted a study to see which set of factors best explained changes in attachment styles. The study found that all four sets of factors cause changes in attachment styles. Changes in attachment styles are complex and depend on multiple factors.

Relationship outcomesEdit

Adult relationships vary in their outcomes. The participants of some relationships express more satisfaction than the participants of other relationships. The participants of some relationships stay together longer than the partners of other relationships. Does attachment influence the satisfaction and duration of relationships?


Several studies have linked attachment styles to relationship satisfaction. People who have secure attachment styles usually express greater satisfaction with their relationships than people who have other attachment styles.[42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50]

Although the link between attachment styles and marital satisfaction has been firmly established, the mechanisms by which attachment styles influence marital satisfaction remain poorly understood. One mechanism may be communication. Secure attachment styles may lead to more constructive communication and more intimate self-disclosures, which in turn increase relationship satisfaction.[43][51] Other mechanisms by which attachment styles may influence relationship satisfaction include emotional expressiveness,[52][53] strategies for coping with conflict,[47] and perceived support from partners.[48][54] Further studies are needed to better understand how attachment styles influence relationship satisfaction.


Some studies suggest people with secure attachment styles have longer-lasting relationships.[55][56] This may be partly due to commitment. People with secure attachment styles tend to express more commitment to their relationships. People with secure attachment styles also tend to be more satisfied with their relationships, which may encourage them to stay in their relationships longer. However, secure attachment styles are by no means a guarantee of long-lasting relationships.

Nor are secure attachment styles the only attachment styles associated with stable relationships. People with anxious–preoccupied attachment styles often find themselves in long-lasting, but unhappy, relationships.[57][58] Anxious–preoccupied attachment styles often involve anxiety about being abandoned and doubts about one’s worth as a relationship. These kinds of feelings and thoughts may lead people to stay in unhappy relationships.

Relationship dynamicsEdit

Attachment plays a role in the way actors interact with one another. A few examples include the role of attachment in affect regulation, support, intimacy, and jealousy. These examples are briefly discussed below. Attachment also plays a role in many interactions not discussed in this article, such as conflict, communication and sexuality.[59][60][61]

Affect regulationEdit

Bowlby, in studies with children, observed that certain kinds of events trigger anxiety, and that people try to relieve their anxiety by seeking closeness and comfort from caregivers.[62] Three main sets of conditions trigger anxiety in children:

  • Conditions of the child (fatigue, hunger, illness, pain, cold, etc.)
  • Conditions involving the caregiver (caregiver absent, caregiver departing, caregiver discouraging of proximity, caregiver giving attention to another child, etc.)
  • Conditions of the environment (alarming events, criticism or rejection by others)

The anxiety triggered by these conditions motivates the individuals to engage in behaviors that bring them physically closer to caregivers. A similar dynamic occurs in adults in relationships where others care about them. Conditions involving personal well-being, conditions involving a relationship partner, and conditions involving the environment can trigger anxiety in adults. Adults try to alleviate their anxiety by seeking physical and psychological closeness to their partners.

Mikulincer, Shaver and Pereg have developed a model for this dynamic.[63] According to the model, when people experience anxiety, they try to reduce their anxiety by seeking closeness with relationship partners. However, the partners may accept or reject requests for greater closeness. This leads people to adopt different strategies for reducing anxiety. People engage in three main strategies to reduce anxiety.

The first strategy is called the security-based strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the security-based strategy.

Security-based strategy of affect regulation.

A person perceives something that provokes anxiety. The person tries to reduce the anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment. The attachment responds positively to the request for closeness, which reaffirms a sense of security and reduces anxiety. The person returns to her or his everyday activities.

The second strategy is called the hyperactivation, or anxiety attachment, strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the hyperactivation strategy.

Hyperactivation strategy of affect regulation.

The events begin the same way. Something provokes anxiety in a person, who then tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to their attachment. The attachment rebuffs the request for greater closeness. The lack of responsiveness increases feelings of insecurity and anxiety. The person then gets locked into a cycle with the attachment: the person tries to get closer, the attachment rejects the request for greater closeness, which leads the person to try even harder to get closer, followed by another rejection from the attachment, and so on. The cycle ends only when the situation shifts to a security-based strategy (because the attachment finally responds positively) or when the person switches to an attachment avoidant strategy (because the person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment).

The third strategy is called the attachment avoidance strategy. The following diagram shows the sequence of events in the attachment avoidance strategy.

Attachment avoidance strategy of affect regulation.

The events begin the same way as the security-based strategy. A person perceives something that triggers anxiety, and the person tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment. But the attachment is either unavailable or rebuffs the request for closeness. The lack of responsiveness fuels insecurity and heightens anxiety. The person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment, suppresses her or his anxiety, and distances herself or himself from the attachment.

Mikulincer, Shaver, and Pereg contend these strategies of regulating attachment anxiety have very different consequences.[63] The security-based strategy leads to more positive thoughts, such as more positive explanations of why others behave in a particular way and more positive memories about people and events. More positive thoughts can encourage more creative responses to difficult problems or distressing situations. The hyperactivation and attachment avoidance strategies lead to more negative thoughts and less creativity in handling problems and stressful situations. It is notable that the security-based strategy is contingent on a positive response from their attachment. From this perspective, it would benefit people to have attachments who are willing and able to respond positively to the person’s request for closeness, so that they can use security-based strategies for dealing with their anxiety.


People feel less anxious when close to their attachments because their attachments can provide support during difficult situations. Support includes the comfort, assistance, and information people receive from their attachments.

Attachment influences both the perception of support from others and the tendency to seek support from others. People who have attachments who respond consistently and positively to requests for closeness allow individuals to have secure attachments, and in return they seek more support, in a generally relaxed way, while people whose attachments are inconsistent in reacting positively or regularly reject requests for support find they need to use other attachment styles.[64][65][66][67] People with secure attachment styles may trust their attachments to provide support because their attachments have reliably offered support in the past. They may be more likely to ask for support when it’s needed. People with insecure attachment styles often do not have a history of supportive responses from their attachments. They may rely less on their attachments and be less likely to ask for support when it’s needed, though there may be other factors involved, as well.

Changes in the way people perceive attachment tend to occur with changes in the way people perceive support. One study looked at college students’ perceptions of attachment to their mothers, fathers, same-sex friends, and opposite-sex friends[68] and found that when students reported changes in attachment for a particular relationship, they usually reported changes in support for that relationship as well. Changes in attachment for one relationship did not affect the perception of support in other relationships. The link between changes in attachment and changes in support was relationship-specific.


Attachment theory has always recognized the importance of intimacy. Bowlby writes:

Attachment theory regards the propensity to make intimate emotional bonds to particular individuals as a basic component of human nature, already present in germinal form in the neonate and continuing through adult life into old age. (Bowlby, 1988, pp. 120–121)[69]

The desire for intimacy has biological roots and, in the great majority of people, persists from birth until death. The desire for intimacy also has important implications for attachment. Relationships that frequently satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to more secure attachments. Relationships that rarely satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to less secure attachments.

Collins and Feeney have examined the relationship between attachment and intimacy in detail.[70] They define intimacy as a special set of interactions in which a person discloses something important about himself or herself, and their attachment responds to the disclosure in a way that makes the person feel validated, understood, and cared for. These interactions usually involve verbal self-disclosure. However, intimate interactions can also involve non-verbal forms of self-expression such as touching, hugging, kissing, and sexual behavior. From this perspective, intimacy requires the following:

  • willingness to disclose one’s true thoughts, feelings, wishes, and fears
  • willingness to rely on an attachment for care and emotional support
  • willingness to engage in physical intimacy in the case of romantic or potential romantic partners

Collins and Feeney review a number of studies showing how each attachment style relates to the willingness to self-disclose, the willingness to rely on partners, and the willingness to engage in physical intimacy. The secure attachment style is generally related to more self-disclosure, more reliance on partners, and more physical intimacy than other attachment styles. However, the amount of intimacy in a relationship can vary due to personality variables and situational circumstances, and so each attachment style may function to adapt an individual to the particular context of intimacy in which they live.

Mashek and Sherman report some findings on the desire for less closeness with partners.[71] Sometimes too much intimacy can be suffocating. People in this situation desire less closeness with their partners. On one hand, the relationship between attachment styles and desire for less closeness is predictable. People who have fearful-avoidant and anxious-preoccupied attachment styles typically want greater closeness with their partners. People who have dismissive–avoidant attachment styles typically want less closeness with their partners. On the other hand, the relatively large numbers of people who admit to wanting less closeness with their partners (up to 57% in some studies) far outnumbers the people who have dismissive-avoidant attachment styles. This suggests people who have secure, anxious–preoccupied, or fearful-avoidant attachment styles sometimes seek less closeness with their partners. The desire for less closeness is not determined by attachment styles alone.


Jealousy refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is threatened by a rival. A jealous person experiences anxiety about maintaining support, intimacy, and other valued qualities of her or his relationship. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, as discussed above, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.

Bowlby observed that attachment behaviors in children can be triggered by the presence of a rival:

In most young children the mere sight of mother holding another baby in her arms is enough to elicit strong attachment behaviour. The older child insists on remaining close to his mother, or on climbing on to her lap. Often he behaves as though he were a baby. It is possible that this well-known behaviour is only a special case of a child reacting to mother’s lack of attention and lack of responsiveness to him. The fact, however, that an older child often reacts in this way even when his mother makes a point of being attentive and responsive suggests that more is involved; and the pioneer experiments of Levy (1937) also indicate that the mere presence of a baby on mother’s lap is sufficient to make an older child much more clinging. (Bowlby, 1969/1982, page 260)[62]

When children see a rival contending for a caregiver’s attention, the children try to get close to the caregiver and capture the caregiver’s attention. Attempts to get close to the caregiver and capture the caregiver’s attention indicate the attachment system has been activated. But the presence of a rival also provokes jealousy in children. The jealousy provoked by a sibling rival has been described in detail.[72] Recent studies have shown that a rival can provoke jealousy at very young ages. The presence of a rival can provoke jealousy in infants as young as six months old.[73][74][75] Attachment and jealousy can both be triggered in children by the presence of a rival.

Attachment and jealousy can be triggered by the same perceptual cues in adults, too.[76] The absence of the attachment can trigger both a need for close proximity and jealousy when people believe the attachment is spending time with a rival. The presence of a rival can also trigger greater need for attachment and jealousy.

Differences in attachment styles influence both the frequency and the pattern of jealous expressions. People who have anxious–preoccupied or fearful-avoidant attachment styles experience jealousy more often and view rivals as more threatening than people who have secure attachment styles.[76][77][78][79] People with different attachment styles also express jealousy in different ways. One study found that:

Securely attached participants felt anger more intensely than other emotions and were relatively more likely than other participants to express it, especially toward their attachment. And although anxious participants felt anger relatively intensely, and were as likely as others to express it through irritability, they were relatively unlikely to actually confront their attachment. This might be attributable to feelings of inferiority and fear, which were especially characteristic of the anxiously attached and which might be expected to inhibit direct expressions of anger. Avoidants felt sadness relatively more intensely than did secures in both studies. Further, avoidants were relatively more likely than others to work to maintain their self-esteem and, perhaps as a consequence, relatively unlikely to be brought closer to their attachment. (Sharpsteen & Kirkpatrick, 1997, page 637)[76]

A subsequent study has confirmed that people with different attachment styles experience and express jealousy in qualitatively different ways.[78] Attachment thus plays an important role in jealous interactions by influencing the frequency and the manner in which attachments express jealousy.

After loveEdit

After dissolution of important romantic relationships people usually go through separation anxiety and grieving. Grief is a process which leads to the acceptance of loss and usually allows the person to move on. During this process people use different strategies to cope. Securely attached individuals tend to look for support, the most effective coping strategy. Avoidantly attached individuals tend to devalue the relationships and to withdraw. Anxiously attached individuals are more likely to use emotionally focused coping strategies and pay more attention to the experienced distress (Pistole, 1996). After the end of the relationships, securely attached individuals tend to have less negative overall emotional experience than insecurely attached individuals (Pistole, 1995).

Same-sex relationshipsEdit

Ridge & Feeney (1998) have studied a group of gays and lesbians in Australian universities. Results showed that the frequency of attachment styles in the gay and lesbian population was the same as in the heterosexual; at the same time attachment styles have predicted relationship variables in a similar way as in the heterosexual population. However, gay and lesbian adult attachment styles were not related to childhood experiences with parents. Contradicting this last result, Robinson (1999) has found that in the lesbian population there was a link between attachment styles and early parenting. However, unlike in heterosexual females, attachment style was related to participants’ relationship with their fathers.

See alsoEdit

Three dates is all it takes to determine financial compatibility | The Star

Very good message!!



Source: Three dates is all it takes to determine financial compatibility | The Star

Who you love can seriously impact your finances. A partner who is supportive and committed to the same financial goals as you will help grow your wealth.

Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be. As covered in my book, Modern Couple’s Money Guide, within the first three dates you can determine whether you and your love interest are financially compatible.

Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be, writes Lesley-Anne Scorgie.
Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be, writes Lesley-Anne Scorgie.  (iStock)

If you’re not, run for the hills or you could end up another divorce statistic. Money matters are the leading cause of separation and divorce in Canada. With that in mind, here’s how to tell if the person you’re dating is your financial equal in your first three dates.

Date one: Are your values similar?

At its core, financial compatibility is about what drive your goals. Remarkably, this has nothing to do with how much money either of you make, what you own or what you owe. Those things can change. Values don’t. This includes owning property, having a family, how hard you want to work and travel aspirations.

On your first date, explore each other’s values. Lob a few of these softball questions at each other: Do you want to own a home? Where do you like to travel? How important is family to you? Do you like your work? Do you prioritize experiences or things?

Date two: Proof is in the pudding

Pay close attention to what your date spends their money on when you arrive at your second outing. For example, your date might be a fashionista wearing designer brands or they might want to book your reservation at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that’s hip, but without the hefty prices. Still, your date might pick you up in an UberX versus an UberBlack.

Here’s a hint of a red flag: if your date appears to be out-spending their income level, they may have money coming from other sources or they could be funding their lifestyle with debt. In rare circumstances, they’re living off of their savings.

Date three: The coupon test

There’s no better way to force a financial conversation early in a relationship than to use a coupon or store credit.

When I went on my first date with my honey, I pulled out my coffee rewards card and cashed it in for free americanos for us. Though in the moment, he was slightly horrified, he quickly learned that I like to get good value when I shop. When we went out again, he used a Groupon. That’s when we fell madly in love with each other.

The bottom line in relationships is if you work towards shared financial goals, it doesn’t matter whether you start from rich, poor or modest means. Together, you can grow your money to support the life you’re designing.

Lesley-Anne Scorgie is a personal finance author and founder of