The Talking Tip Didn’t Work: Q and A

Hi Laurie,

Thanks for the advise that you’ve been giving me lately, I really appreciate it because a lot of your advise has really given me so much to think about how I should go about coping with problems and also what to expect in future.

At the moment I am facing some problems like, my husband spends more time with his friends and less time with the children and I. Sometimes I feel afraid to ask him why he continuously does it because he might get upset and hit me. We can’t even talk like married couple anymore, every time I mention about ways on how we should better our lives, he always has something negative to say to discourage me. It’s his behavior that makes me think negative and I end up arguing with him. Please give me some advise on how I should cope and handle this situation.

I await for your quick response.

Cheers,
J
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Dear Josephine,

When a man changes his behavior and spends more time with his friends then with his family, it’s usually because there is something in the family situation that he finds stressful. That may be because it seems to him that he only hears about negative things.

He probably doesn’t know what to do about what’s going on in the family and may not even be aware of his own discomfort. His solution is to get away as often as he can.

Here in the US many couples get into negative stroking patterns.

I use the word stroke to mean a unit of recognition. A stroke is an action or word that let’s you know that I know you exist. A positive stroke means I am pleased that you exist or that I am pleased with what you’ve done. And negative stroke means that I don’t like you or I don’t like what you have done .

These couples talk to each other only when things go wrong and don’t say anything when things are going well. This often turns into an argument and during an argument additional negative strokes get exchanged.

The partners feel worse and worse and began to feel angry and each other most of the time. I suspect that that this is what is happening in your marriage.

New Guinea is very distant from the US geographically, and I know nothing about how different we are culturally. If I say something that does not make sense in your culture please don’t try to follow that piece of my advice.

I am very concerned that you are afraid of being hit if you try to talk about your unhappiness. You don’t say whether you’ve ever experienced being hit. I hope you haven’t and I hope it never happens.

I don’t want you to do anything to jeopardize your own safety.

Since you’re concerned about his response when you talk about problems, try this suggestion as an experiment. Instead of talking about problems, talk ONLY about good things.

For an entire week try talking to your husband using only positive strokes. If he does something you like, tell him about it. If he does something you don’t like, say nothing at all.

I know this advice is very simple. I also know that it is not easy to carry out. When you are concerned or angry, it tends to show in your facial expression and the tone of your voice. It helps if you remember good things and look for good things to notice during this week.

People tend to repeat behavior that gets noticed. If you notice only good behavior (behavior you like) then that’s the behavior that gets repeated.

After a week has passed decide whether you want to continue with the experiment. Many couples I have worked with in the past have decided to make stroking each other positively an important part of their relationship.

Warmly, Laurie

Is this you? “I don’t need therapy, but I could use some advice about…”
[tags]Communication, Difficult Communication, Relationship Advice, Self Care, Relationships[/tags]

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