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Author Topic: Will counseling save this relationship? - Margaret Paul, Ph.D.  (Read 1165 times)
Skip
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« on: May 19, 2008, 10:42:42 AM »

Thought this was interesting... .

Can This Relationship Be Helped?
by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

I have been counseling couples for 35 years. Quite often individuals come in for help wondering if it is really possible to save or improve their relationship. Perhaps their partner is totally uninterested in working on the relationship. Perhaps their partner is an alcoholic or drug addict. What are their chances of saving their relationship?

Since two people always get together at their common level of wounded ness, here is what I say to the partner who has sought my help: “As long as you choose to remain in this relationship, there are things for you to learn. Each partner contributes their 100% to the relationship. While it is often easy to see what your partner is doing that is harmful to the relationship, it is often difficult to see what you are doing. Yet until you learn about your part in this relationship system, you will take your own dysfunctional behavior with you into another relationship. It’s generally a waste of time - unless there is physical abuse - to leave a relationship before healing your own end of the system. The time to leave is when you have learned to make yourself happy regardless of what your mate is doing. When you learn to take 100% responsibility for your own feelings and needs, and if your partner is still behaving in ways that are unacceptable to you, then it’s time to leave. You need to discover how to respond to your partner in ways that are loving to yourself and that support your own joy and highest good.”

When the partner who is available to counseling does his or her inner work, one of two things happen. Either the other partner likes what is happening and becomes more open, or the relationship becomes more distant and difficult. I tell my clients that it is a 50-50 deal - half the time things get better and half the time they get worse. They need to be okay with either outcome. If fact, I encourage them to let go of the outcome and just be in the process of learning how to take loving care of themselves.

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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2008, 11:31:26 AM »

Some really great stuff Skip  Smiling (click to insert in post) Thanks.

This is the sort of stuff I am trying to work on. My own issues and reactions to things.

I can't control him.

All I can control is myself.

I need to come to terms with the reasons why : Why I get too needy - Why I need to please - Why I need to explain - Why I need to be accepted - Why I need to feel loved from him - Why I can't stand up for myself - Why I am so afraid (and what I'm afraid of) .

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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008, 11:42:57 AM »

 This was good... .

and I see this as true.

It was VERY hard for me, at the start, to see that I had any fault in this whole relationship mess we were in. After all, HE was the borderline, HE had the meltdowns, HE was screaming at me, HE was unstable, HE was blablablah... .and *I* was calm, ever suffering and oh so tolerant. A perfect martyr.

  Well, suffice to say, as we started working on our own stuff... and I came much later into the deal than my dBPDh... my eyes ( and heart ) were opened to my own level of dysfunction, and how I contributed to our unhealthy dance.

  Excellent...

  Steph

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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 01:34:15 PM »

The time to leave is when you have learned to make yourself happy regardless of what your mate is doing. When you learn to take 100% responsibility for your own feelings and needs, and if your partner is still behaving in ways that are unacceptable to you, then it’s time to leave. You need to discover how to respond to your partner in ways that are loving to yourself and that support your own joy and highest good.”

I agree with this to a point.

Maybe I am still very lost in FOG, but I can not even imagine that would be obtainable.  How can you be happy all the time, whatever your spouse is doing, if your relationship invovles verbal/emotional abuse 

What about the uneasy feeling about going home, or that fear of which person will greet you at the door. 

Is the author saying that a feeling of 100% happiness is obtainable even in the face of these types emotions?
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2008, 01:58:40 PM »

Is the author saying that a feeling of 100% happiness is obtainable even in the face of these types emotions?

Sure.  The 100% happiness may be obtainable only by leaving that person.  That's where the 50-50 thing comes in:

I tell my clients that it is a 50-50 deal - half the time things get better and half the time they get worse. They need to be okay with either outcome. If fact, I encourage them to let go of the outcome and just be in the process of learning how to take loving care of themselves.

So, maybe you can stay, and be happy with less.  90% happy, or even 70% happy.  Or maybe you have to leave because you are never going to have an acceptable level of happiness.

I'm starting to see that in my own relationship, although I don't know which way it will end.  I'm making a conscious effort to do the things I want to do, and not let her stop me.  As much, anyway... .she still manages to do it some.  This means I'm pursing my own interests, and working on things and goals that are important to me, as opposed to just always doing what she wants.  I've also come to terms with the fact that it might end, and I'm OK with that.  Not good enough that I can walk away today, but if it happened, I could get by.

I've noticed that most of my happy moments are when I'm not with her, so that probably says it all right there. 

I've also noticed an increasing inability to take her BS.  Not inability... .unwillingness, really.  When she gets abusive, I shut her down.  I leave, I ignore her, or I come right back at her.  I also do less self-checking, where I worry about what she might say or do.  I do my thing, and she will react however she does.  I'm not going to waste my time worrying about her reactions when I can't control them anyway.

Oddly enough... .she told me I had been being really nice to her lately.  ?  Mind games?  Or maybe she finds me more pleasant to be around now that I'm not depressed and pissed off about the marriage all the time.
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2008, 02:21:33 PM »

Is the author saying that a feeling of 100% happiness is obtainable even in the face of these types emotions?

Never sure what they mean  Smiling (click to insert in post) - but I don't know think Dr. Paul means 100% or "always" in her writing.  If I follow her thought, I think she more means "fundamentally happy", without being thrown off your game with every bad turn by your partner.

I walk down a city street and a bum starts "jawing" about how I should give him money.  It's uncomfortable, I don't like it, I get away from it, shrug it off - but it doesn't affect my fundemental  happiness. If anything, I think about the bum and how unfortunate a soul he has become (and how to take another route next time).  Healthy response.

I go home and "cupcake" starts "jawing" about what a worthless husband I am.  I think Dr. Paul's point is - it's uncomfortable, you don't like it, you get away from it, you shrug it off - but it don't let it rock your fundemental happiness - you are still the same good person that was outside the door 30 seconds prior.

If you're not being "taken" by the "jawing", it's probably the first part of stopping the cycle - and she puts that on us as we are the healthy ones. 

And I think she is saying, given some time, your partner will start reacting in a way that will make it clearer if you should continue and try to mend the relationship or if you should move on from the relationship (50% likely to go one direction or the other)

If you stay, you will have taken the first step to break the dysfunctional cycle.  If you leave, you will not be so downtrodden and wounded that you can't function in a healthy relationship with someone else.

So in either case, you are taking a step to feeling better and recovering.

These are not intuitive thoughts for sure.

Skippy

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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2008, 05:54:27 PM »

Excerpt
I have been counseling couples for 35 years. Quite often individuals come in for help wondering if it is really possible to save or improve their relationship. Perhaps their partner is totally uninterested in working on the relationship. Perhaps their partner is an alcoholic or drug addict. What are their chances of saving their relationship?

Interesting that the idea of the partner being an alcoholic is possible but mental illness is not considered. It's interesting how often people don't think about it. As if there are mostly normal people and alcoholics and not enough mentally ill people to mention. It's like mentally ill people are totally crazy and don't get into relationships, as opposed to the world we know of where there are lots of people somewhere in the middle.

Excerpt
What about the uneasy feeling about going home, or that fear of which person will greet you at the door.

That's one of the things I'm personally working on now, and I know that it is 100% about me and only I can work on improving that. *She* can work on improving how she acts when the door is opened, but only I can work on my fear/uneasiness about it. Her bad behavior is bad enough without my feeling bad anticipating the possibility of it.

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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2008, 09:44:04 PM »

Good point peacebaby

Excerpt
What about the uneasy feeling about going home, or that fear of which person will greet you at the door.

That's one of the things I'm personally working on now, and I know that it is 100% about me and only I can work on improving that. *She* can work on improving how she acts when the door is opened, but only I can work on my fear/uneasiness about it. Her bad behavior is bad enough without my feeling bad anticipating the possibility of it.

peacebaby[/quote]
Over time, do we build up such high walls and protection ourselves that we fail to even give things a true chance?

Are our calluses so thick and so scarred that we are too sensitive and reactive to even the slightest situation?

Do we operate on autopilot - with our reactions already known before we even make them?

Just think of the cold war with Russia. What did it take to bring more understanding to both countries? How can we achieve similar results?

I like the ideas here. I think that they really get you to think about YOUR role in things, as previously mentioned.

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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 02:17:27 PM »

All very true.  That is the big thing I struggling with when it comes to staying or leaving.  How much can I control my own actions, and how much can I put up with? What level of happiness am I willing to settle for?  Thats what I meant on another forum about being strong enough to make the changes that were necessary.  Can I go about my business while ignoring her rages.  Can I gut check to make sure I am not in the wrong, and then move ahead regardless. 

Part of our problem the last few years is I did just that.  As I got stronger emotionally, as I asseted myslef more, as I grew financially and professionally, she went down hill. As long as she was the dominant force and I was in her environment, she was fine.  She did what she wanted and told me to screw off if I did not like it.  As soon as the tables were turned, she began to play the poor me game, and talk about how much I held her back and ruined her life.

After awhile I got really tired of that and ended up here, trying to find out just what I could tolerate and what I could not.
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2008, 03:19:24 PM »

As we get stronger, they have choices they too can make. She choose to go play the victim role to try to regain her power by switching tactics. It is still abusive, but just easier to play the innocent, since it is so passive.

Yes, it makes it very hard not to become the rescuer.

Yes, it is very hard not to fall into the trap "you hurt my feelings".

She still has you in the FOG, but she is using Guilt as her new callling card instead of Fear.

You can fight fire with fire by playing brain dead and not picking up on her hints and inuendos. Or, if you can be more direct, just admit that no, you can't/won't do that and don't give a reason, or you open yourself up to an argument over who works harder.


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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2008, 04:57:59 PM »

Good stuff . . .

I sit on the fence because I want to learn what I need to know. I’ve posted earlier that my present bp relationship isn’t my first. I’ve asked how I could create another – and a bit more of that answer is here. I’ve something to learn about myself. I have embraced this concept a while back and use it to deflect the contentious issues that pop up in my relationship.

The more I look, the more I see. I am looking at myself.

LL

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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 07:45:42 AM »

Some really great stuff Skip  Smiling (click to insert in post) Thanks.

This is the sort of stuff I am trying to work on. My own issues and reactions to things.

I can't control him.

All I can control is myself.

I need to come to terms with the reasons why : Why I get too needy - Why I need to please - Why I need to explain - Why I need to be accepted - Why I need to feel loved from him - Why I can't stand up for myself - Why I am so afraid (and what I'm afraid of) .

Wow, United... .I could have written exactly what you said and meant it whole heartedly.  Are most nons that way?  UGGH!  Most of the time I feel like I'm doing the right thing despite the circumstances and people involved.  Meaning treating others the way I wish to be treated... .How on earth do we basically get punished for that?
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 08:25:58 AM »

That's the whole crux of the issue here tomkittytwo

We believe in the Golden Rule - they believe in power, control, authority, and dominance.

We are working from different realities.

That is why we lose so often. We are operating from the world of "if I'm good enough and kind enough, I will get rewarded". They believe that "to get what they want they have to control others, esp those they are closest to".

Once you really understand that you are both coming from two very different perspectives, you can make the adjustments necessary to function and regain the power you always had but gave up for what you thought were good reasons.

There are soo many good books out there to help you understand these concepts. Check out the book section at the bottom for a list of titles that others here have found to be very useful. https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?board=33.0

I have my two favorites listed at the bottom of my screen here, since they both gave some really great perspectives on things that helped me realize how things really worked in OZ.

Keep reading.

Nothing changes without changes... .
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 09:02:25 AM »

Trying to live by the golden rule is very true for us.  Its not that they don't necessarily, but they are quick to revert to control tactics.  They also assume that you are trying to control them, since that is how they view relationships (even when they don't want to).

My wife told me to make a chore list of things for her to do.  I refused, because I did not want to control her.  I felt we should very simply coorperate on getting things done. When I finally made a list, she accused me of trying to control her.  :Smiling (click to insert in post)

Its very frustrating to be accused on things that you are not doing... .
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