The former approach entails a readiness to attack, confront, criticize, or cast aspersion, and quickly escalates a conflictual exchange that could be so much more easily resolved. The latter promotes a sense of powerlessness in the relationship, self-pity and self-victimization, sulking, withdrawal, internalized and growing resentment, and does little to move a situation or dynamic in new directions.
The book’s title — We Are Called to Rise — is drawn from the quote by poet Emily Dickenson: “We never know how high we are, Till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies.” The following two eloquent quotes capture the book’s essence.
Brain science supports anecdotal evidence that compassion is infinitely more effective in de-escalating conflict and nurturing intimacy than are cool logic and rational argument. The following tactics are generally less than successful in trying to get the understanding and caring we need from our partner:
Many of us have been challenged by toxic people in our lives who spew negativity, leaving us feeling somehow demeaned and deflated. From the Latin word toxikon, meaning “arrow poison,” the term toxic means literally: to fill or poison in a targeted way, says Theo Veldsman, head of Industrial Psychology and People Management at the University of Johannesburg.
Martha Kauppi, marriage and sex therapist, and founder of the Institute for Relational Intimacy, notes that basic psychoeducation is an integral part of helping partners negotiate the most intimate aspects of their relationship.
California couples therapist Dr. Robert Solley writes about the need to be right as a significant single predictor of relationship failure.
When differences become contests of right and wrong, he writes, the essential feelings of safety and comfort that we seek in relationship get replaced with feelings of helplessness, mistrust, inadequacy and pain.
The skills we need to “work the relationship” by “working ourselves” inside the relationship are different from qualities prized in the “intervention from above” model — being right, being powerful. That flies out the window when we begin to think relationally.
The following two selections are from Terrence Real’s important book, How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the intimacy gap between men and women (2003). Relational therapist, lecturer and author Real looks at the “thousand cuts” that contribute to the death of a marriage and the “intimacy skill set” that is essential for reconnection.