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Thursday, 29 March 2001

How Do We Get Back?

Written by  Naomi Baum, PhD.

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QDear WholeFamily,

I've been with my spouse for almost fifteen years. Lately, we haven't been getting along at all!!! He'll tell me something for instance and a little while later tell me he never said it. Also, whenever I tell my opinion he tells me I'm wrong and only his opinion is the right one. This always leads to lots of screaming and yelling at each other and lots and lots of name calling goes on. Then I will usually go to my neighbor's house to escape or he'll have an excuse to leave or workout for hours. Then when he's done working out he only thinks he's some kind of god...Yes he is in good shape but come on...I'm usually called fat pig and he's awesome (barf). We'll see if you can figure this one out. I love him and know he still loves me but neither of us remember how to get back to the way we were when we met. We also have three kids we're putting through this...Thank you for any advice you could give!

Sincerely,
Not Getting Along At All

ADear Not Getting Along At All,

You've been married for 15 years and lately you haven't been getting along. I can only assume that before "lately" you were getting along. So, what's different? It sure sounds like there are issue(s) that you're both avoiding. Couples can make all sorts of noise and create a whole host of problems just to ignore the "big" issue.

I'm assuming you're writing to us because you recognize that it's time to solve your problems instead of hiding behind a screaming smokescreen. The point that you make about exposing your three children to all this yelling and screaming is really an important one. They don't deserve to be drawn into their parents' conflicts. For no other reason other than for their sake I would suggest that you begin to figure out where, when and how to argue.

Here are some suggestions:

Where? Definitely not in front of the kids. Try finding a room in the house where you have privacy and where you can sit across from one another.

When? Usually not when you are ready to blow a gut. At that point, it is better to go and work out, or go to the neighbors, cool off for a bit, and then come back to whatever it was that was bothering you. If possible, agree on a time with your husband when you will discuss your relationship.

How? How to argue is really an art that most of us never learn. Putting each other down is the best way to get into a lose-lose situation. In other words, neither side gains when you both start name-calling. Try to keep to the issues at hand without insulting each other. Another technique is to rephrase what your spouse has said before you continue so that you are certain that you have understood him.

Now this may all see a bit farfetched to you, and indeed when you are seething with anger, it probably is. The idea is that, when you are so angry, you have to get yourself back together, before getting on with the argument.

If you both love each other and are committed to the relationship, finding quiet time away from the kids is a real relationship builder. Going out to dinner, or on a date can put some of the spark back into your relationship.

Good luck to you.

Naomi L. Baum, PhD.

Last modified on Sunday, 22 January 2012 20:26
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Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum is the Director of the Resilience Unit at The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the National School Resilience Project. Her work at ICTP focuses on developing programs to build resilience in communities that have been highly exposed to trauma and stress. She has successfully brought her approach to Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her work there included seven visits to the city, she trained teachers, social workers, school nurses, and counselors. She has also worked with the population in Haiti following teh earthquake. She has written about Trauma and Resilience in several published articles and books.

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