Psychological Self-Help

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and giving us a chance to deal with the real problems realistically. (It may also
encourage criticism and the expression of raw emotions that damage the
relationship, depending on the personalities involved. The pros and cons of "fair
fighting" are considered in method #5 of chapter 13.) 
All close relationships experience some friction. No thinking person will always
agree with us. The thrill of being with your lover wears off. Certain wishes and
dreams about marriage will not come true. Partners want things from us we can't or
won't give. Criticism and resentment tend to be expressed in irritating ways. So
many human traits annoy us; we tell ourselves that people and things should be
different. It is frustrating when we can't understand why someone does what they
do. What was "cute" when dating may become very irritating, e.g. a partner's
loudness or bossiness or indecisiveness. Even good traits, like being very
understanding or always rational or even-temper, can be irritating to a partner who
is ashamed of his/her emotionality. A partner may accept one of your traits, say
shyness, until he/she meets a good-looking, outgoing person, then he/she may
suddenly resent your quietness and nervousness. 
Maslow (1971) had a "Grumble Theory" that says "the grass looks greener on the
other side of the fence and dead on our side." He felt life was a series of ups and
downs; accomplishments and relationships only give us a temporary high, soon we
are taking them for granted and grumbling again. Marriage is an example: John and
Jane were in love, got married, and had two beautiful children. They were supposed
to be blissfully happy, but after several years they take each other for granted--their
grass looks brown and uninteresting. So, John is attracted to other women who tell
him how talented and interesting he is. Jane is also attracted to successful, attentive
males and to a challenging, exciting career. The risk is that John and/or Jane will
turn the unexciting "taken for granted" feelings into active dislike or disdain "I can't
stand Jane" or "I hate being at home." Maslow observed that high level self-
actualizers focused on getting on with living, according to their values and avoided
blaming and resenting others or discounting the past. Few of us are self-actualizers,
however. 
When hostility builds inside, eventually it gets released--sometimes on the wrong
person or issue. Often the tirade is a repetitive emotional harangue, obviously
venting the anger rather than communicating. It may include vicious, nasty, cutting,
insulting, offensive accusations. Both people are likely to become hostile and start
playing "hard ball." In addition to the release of their poison--which may be hard to
forgive--the fighters are usually trying, albeit ineffectively, to change each other.
Have you ever noticed how hard we work to change others and how little we work on
changing our expectations of others? 
Trying to get our way
There are two major tactics for getting our way: (1) reasoned arguments and (2)
manipulation via bargaining, hinting, and use of emotions, deceit, or coercion.
According to Johnson and Goodchilds (1976), 45% of women use emotions (usually
sadness), as do 27% of men (usually anger). Four times as many women as men
use helplessness as an appeal. However, you lose self-respect and the respect of
others when you use weakness to manipulate others. Three times as many men as
women use knowledge and present facts as a basis for winning an argument.
Androgynous women are more like men. Unfortunately, the woman who takes a
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