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Starting new patterns

June 20, 2011

I have been reading a new book… “Screamfree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up and Getting Closer” by Hall Edward Runkel, LMFT.  It echos many of the ideas I have been working on for the last little while.  (You can’t change someone else.  You have to change yourself.)  But what it does is add a practical formula for acting with my editorializing:

  • Calm Down
    • Pause Yourself  – don’t react back
    • Go to the Balcony – step back and really look at the words and actions of both of you
  • Grow Up
    • Spot YOUR pattern  Yes, Yours. Not your spouse’s. 🙂 Hal says we are like two dancers.  Your spouse has his dance steps and you do your dance steps in response.  Or vice versa.
    • What do you want most in this situation? Figure this out and change your dance steps!
  • Get Closer
    • Show your cards  Here is where you talk to your spouse based upon your thoughts in Grow Up
    • Champion your spouse  Be open to any possible response

To me, the following quote is key to understanding the goals of Get Closer:

I am revealing this to you not because I need you to change. Whether you do anything differently is up to you. But I realize that you cannot make an informed choice without having all the information so I am telling you as clearly as I can, what my hopes are and what my intentions are.  I am not telling this to change you. I am telling you this because I love you and I want you to know me.

I would be official and quote a page number – but I am reading this in an audio book 🙂

I have been struggling with how to apply this in my life.  Today, I got a chance.

We had plans to go to one of Hubby’s events today.  We were to go as a family at about 11 until the kids melted, return home and then Hubby would go back later to finish up (he needed to be there at 8pm) and come home very late.  

He asked yesterday if we could drive separately so that he could stay all day.  Since he also worked out of the house most of yesterday, I said no.  I didn’t want to take care of the kids all day alone including an hour drive home post nap time (since the first event was basically AT nap time).   

He asked again this morning.  And when my answer was still no  he got angry and started saying mean things. 

I was calm.  From the balcony,  I realized that he was like my daughter having a temper tantum.  But interestingly, She has different techniques – she offers to do things “I’ll be good” or tries to compromise “How about just half?”  Hubby just tries to “talk you into” giving him exactly what he wants.  Any discussion is “Arguing” (my dance step) and makes him more angry.  My next step is to retreat in the face of his anger and nasty comments.  Our therapist had pointed that out  “He uses his angry responses to get what he wants from you.”  

Today, I was clear and direct.  He said “Fine, I will just drop your asses back here and go right back!  And I won’t talk to you there!”   

I was again clear and direct, but didn’t back down.  “We will not go with you unless you can promise to be nice.   And if you go without us and spend the whole day away, you need to think about what that choice means to us and our relationship.”  

We went and had a fine time.  I would love to say everything was perfect, but, folks, this is not Disney this is real life.  After we returned home he sat in a chair checking his watch and asking to leave.   😦

Honestly, I still consider this a huge success.  Here’s to more success!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2011 3:36 am

    That sounds like a great book. And yes- any step in the right direction is a good thing.

  2. June 28, 2011 12:34 am

    Interesting. I hope you are able to continue putting this into practice and getting a better response in the future.

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