(RE)ENGAGING YOUR PARTNER CONSTRUCTIVELY

After moving out, Brian missed Ashley and wanted to talk about what happened. This time around, he started the conversation by telling Ashley that he was feeling hurt, sad, and disappointed. Initially, Ashley started apologizing profusely, but Brian stopped her and asked her to just hear him out. He said that he wanted her to understand how he was feeling. Again, she started apologizing, and Brian finally told her, “Please stop. Just listen to me. I need you to understand what I’m going through.” It took her a while, but Ashley finally managed to tell Brian what he needed to hear. She told him, “I get it. You’re angry because I hurt you in the worst way possible.”

Hannah and Ethan had a more difficult time. Because Hannah had a hard time controlling her emotions and staying focused on the main issue—Ethan sexting with Stephanie—he had a difficult time listening to her, and he eventually tuned Hannah out. Both Hannah and Ethan are trapped in a state of accusations and denials—definitely not on the path to recovery.

In Zachary and Jacob’s case, Zachary had a difficult time explaining how he felt about Jacob looking for a job and how he felt it would undermine their relationship. Rather than explain his feelings, Zachary told Jacob, “You don’t care about me.” Because Zachary leveled an accusation, Jacob got defensive and shot back, “I would have told you the truth, but you make it impossible to do.” Clearly, this relationship is nearing its end.

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