Home Couples & Family Psychology Developmental LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XI. STORMING IN AN ENDURING RELATIONSHIP

LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XI. STORMING IN AN ENDURING RELATIONSHIP

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At this point, Delores and Bart went through their own remarriage process. They visited a therapist for about four months and continued to go back when they felt the need for “a tune up.” This experience helped them refine the tools they needed to more effectively talk about how they communicate and how their personal styles of communication shaped their interactions.

By learning to recognize and talk about their respective styles, by learning to break an escalating chain of events, by taking “time out” when either partner requests (in order to
pursue their discussion after emotions have calmed), Delores and Bart learned to step outside the invisible constraints of their interaction, to cease to be ruled by unspoken assumptions and emotions, and to communicate (and often “meta-communicate”) in a more mutually satisfying manner.

While in many cases, the partners in a relationship will disagree about the punctuation of their communication pattern and, like Delores and Bart, will have to find ways to “meta-communicate” about these differences in punctuation, other couples agree completing on the punctuation of their communication. In this agreement, however, one often finds a conspiracy of silence, for the agreed upon punctuation hides some of the underlying and often times destructive aspects of their communication pattern.

When describing their life together, Dave and Sheila describe the “meltdowns” that sometimes occur in their relationship. The process begins when things are going bad for Dave. He indicates that he copes by just “hunkering down.” Like many men we interviewed, Dave becomes very focused on a goal (“tunnel vision”) and emotionally detached from Sheila. At this point in time, according to Dave, Sheila (like Delores) often
becomes emotionally upset, sometimes crying, without directly speaking to him about her concerns. As Sheila puts it:

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