Arlene and Kevin talked about how difficult the first months of their relationship were because of Kevin’s insecurities. They were not sure whether the relationship was going to survive the first year. Arlene said that it was really horrible because it seemed like they were fighting all the time: “Kevin was so insecure and possessive concerning my time and who I spent it with, that I almost ended the relationship several times. I just felt like I was suffocating.” She says that their emotions were so strong then that it was a bit frightening. One moment the two of them could be so happy and the next moment they were screaming at each other. The arguments almost always ended with both of them crying and apologizing to each other for the terrible things that had been said.

Arlene is still amazed when she reflects back on how petty the arguments were and yet how much emotion the two of them put into them. For both Kevin and Arlene many of the “petty” arguments may have been fueled by their mutual falling out of infatuation. Kevin had compared their relationship during its early months to “Wuthering Heights”. Surely, no real relationship could hold up under this kind of super romantic pretension. In addition, they had to acknowledge and work with major differences that exist in their interpersonal needs. Kevin wanted romance, reassurance and commitment. Arlene needed independence and she wanted realism in their relationship.

With time, Arlene and Kevin have come to better understand each other and the source of each other’s “triggers.” The two of them still argue, but now the arguments are much more constructive. They are better able to recognize when they are upset because of a specific situation and when they are upset with one another. Now that they know themselves and each other better, it’s much easier to understand and deal with frustrations and disagreements. Arlene has learned that when Kevin is upset, it is better to give him his space so that he will have the opportunity to solve his own problems. In the past, Arlene has always wanted to rush in and make everything okay Today, their arguments are more likely to end in a compromise rather than degenerate into pettiness. This is not to say that Kevin and Arlene don’t still fight about trivial things, but now it is easier to recognize when this is happening and they usually end up joking about it.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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