A group of women have coffee and talk about men. Their comments and complaints are by no means new ones:
“I’m, tired of being afraid of his anger.”
“He works all the time and when he is home, he doesn’t talk to me, or listen for that matter.”
“He acts as if everything is fine so I’m the one usually left to bring up our relationship issues.”
These women are long time friends and have been dwelling on the same subjects for as long as they can remember. A thoughtful suggestion or heartfelt expression of support from friends can often leave them feeling better than when they arrived. However an improved mood or new idea may not sustain a woman for long once she’s back home and immersed in the ongoing pressures of a couple’s relationship.
Group therapy expands the possibilities for significant and permanent enhancement of a woman’s insight into relationship dynamics and how that insight can be translated into a changed mindset and behavior. A psychotherapy group setting provides women with interactive, visceral ways of identifying the patterns of communication with their mate that can trigger anger, hurt, sadness, helplessness or other painful emotions.
It takes a while for a pattern to emerge but once spotlighted, one can see more clearly why endless repetition of that pattern is inevitable unless changes are made to the contribution each is making to the couple dynamic. Seeing how patterns cause negative reactions helps encourage one to embrace and experiment with alternative reactions. I or other group members can suggest alternatives that get his attention. Sometimes a role play can be an effective tool in uncovering these alternative approaches.
Even when your partner consistently provokes, there’s a lot you can learn about how to respond in a different way. Focusing on the capacity for nurturing is one of many approaches to relationship disharmony. This includes listening and reflecting back what is heard until the man realizes you are listening and actually understand what his anger is about. Often, a mate just feeling understood or sensing that you have not gone into a defensive mode is healing in itself.
“I have seen many women become more confident, assertive and sensitive in their personal relationships as a result of their participation in my groups.” Roger Schwarz