- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: HCI; 1 edition (October 13, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0757318622
- ISBN-13: 978-0757318627
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,394,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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You're Tearing Us Apart: Twenty Ways We Wreck Our Relationships and Strategies to Repair Them Paperback – October 13, 2015
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About the Author
Dr. Pat Love is a distinguished professor, author, trainer and long-standing licensed clinician. Her ever-popular books Hot Monogamy and The Truth About Love have taken her around the world and on numerous shows in the U.S., such as Oprah, The Today Show and CNN. Dr. Love is also a regular contributor to Psychology Today.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
You're Tearing Us Apart
Chances are you've heard it takes two people to destroy a relationship, but experience proves otherwise. One person can do the deed alone. Trust can be destroyed by one uncovered email account, one criticism too many, or one last drunken argument. Unilateral actions are taken, and many destroy relationships.
Think about it: You don't make me drink. I don't make you overwork. I didn't create your technology obsession. You didn't make me spend too much. These are personal choices that destroy trust and intimacy, which are the lifeblood of relationship connection.
But here is the good news: If one person can tear a relationship apart, one person can fix it―and you can fix it in three steps:
Step One: Recognize the part of your behavior that undermines intimacy.
Step Two: Replace harmful behaviors with healthy acts of love.
Step Three: Repeat Steps One and Two!
Transforming a relationship isn't rocket science, and we've made it uncomplicated by using more than fifty years of combined professional experience and scientific study to make the transformation simple, speedy, and satisfying. A shift in one partner's attitude and actions can create a positive ripple effect throughout the relationship and restore intimate connection.
The tried-and-true strategies in this short, user-friendly book help both individuals and couples to identify the types of behaviors that tear couples apart, explain why these behaviors are destructive, and provide alternatives for repair and transformation.
Whether you read this book entirely, or select specific chapters, you can start with a few small changes to make your relationship more rewarding than ever.
If you only knew how hurtful it is when you criticize me. No matter what I do, nothing ever seems good enough. Every day I work as hard as I can to contribute to our relationship, but instead of a welcome smile or a little appreciation, what I get is your displeasure and ultimately more complaints. Truthfully, when you are around I have to brace myself because somehow you have the ability to turn the most positive conversation into a criticism.
It's discouraging when other people recognize all the good things I do, but you―the one I love most and the reason behind everything I do―can recall only those things I didn't do. I try and try to please you, never getting a 'thank you' or praise for what I do right. As soon as I do something wrong in your eyes, I hear about it, not just once, but time and time again. I feel like you never see what I do, only what I don't do. It's so difficult for me to keep trying when you continually point out how I have failed.
It saddens me that what I do isn't good enough in your eyes. I think we have a good life full of positives, but what I hear most from you is negatives. This burden grows heavier the longer we are together.
The Purpose Behind Criticism
As strange as it sounds, criticism has a positive purpose: it's an attempt to evoke a change in the relationship. Complaint, comparison, and blame are ways of letting you know something needs to shift; but even though it is aimed toward a solution, criticism often becomes the problem.
Partners who criticize aren't fully aware of the impact because, typically, they are trying to communicate a desire for change that they feel will improve the relationship. Although their intentions are positive, they don't realize the result is negative. What may be a cry for help still sounds like a criticism. For example, 'You don't listen to me,' may mean, 'I want you to show interest in me by remembering our conversations because that makes me feel close to you and loved by you.' Or, 'All you ever think about is sex,' may mean, 'I want to have sex with you and it takes an emotional connection to ignite my desire.'
One common point of confusion regarding criticism is how men and women differ in their responses to it. Neither likes it, but if a woman complains to another woman, 'The kids are driving me crazy!' most women will move in closer to comfort or console. 'I am so sorry. Tell me what's going on.' But if a woman complains to a man, 'The kids are driving me crazy!' he knows sooner or later it's going to be his fault. Most men are fixers, and so a woman's complaint feels like his failure for not fixing the problem or preventing it from happening in the first place. Interestingly, when a man criticizes another man, it's often in the form of banter or sparring; it even can be a way of helping him improve, for instance, 'If you get a better haircut you might get a date!'
Behind every criticism is a desire, but when a desire is delivered and received in a negative manner, the medium is the message and the message is a menace.
The Disconnect from Criticism
Most human beings respond to criticism the very same way: We defend against it. Some people defend by trying harder and apologizing. Others defend by withdrawing, getting angry, or losing hope. When criticized, your psyche switches into a defensive mode, and while this protection is in place, connection with your partner is broken. With repeated criticism you'll eventually associate your partner with pain, not pleasure, leaving you no choice but to tune out and disconnect. If and when this happens, the distance between you will widen at an alarming rate.
Interpersonal neurobiology helps explain why relationship connection is critical to our well-being―not to mention our survival. One of our greatest human strengths is attachment. We can't survive as infants or thrive as adults without contact or connection with others. We need to be understood, cared about, and, from time-to-time, have another individual experience a state of mind similar to our own.
Mirror neurons help explain why human emotions are contagious. These neurons in the brain continually reflect the moods and emotions of people around us, both positive and negative. The good news is mirror neurons provide the basis of learning and enable us to feel empathy. The bad news is mirror neurons, like a sponge, take in and reflect negative emotions and behaviors as well. We simply feel what others feel because our emotional states are contagious. This is why living with a critical person is stressful just like living with a depressed person is depressing―we influence, and are influenced by, each other's emotions.
Criticism comes in all forms: cutting words; sounds, such as a heavy sigh; and bodily expressions like piercing eyes, wrinkled forehead, or threatening body posture. These expressions bounce back and forth between us like a ball in a tennis match and ultimately determine the tenor and outcome of the game.
Continual criticism ultimately can lead to contempt, the single greatest predictor of divorce and separation. Contempt means, 'I've made up my mind about you and it's not good.' Contempt keeps you from seeing what your partner does right while only seeing what your partner does wrong.
Criticism is stressful for both partners and keeps you both on edge. As long as defenses are up, connection is down. Couples who are disconnected risk growing apart, which is the most commonly cited cause of divorce and separation.
Behind every blame, judgment, complaint, and criticism is a desire, so cut to the chase―go straight to your desire. Ask for what you want in an affirmative way. State your desire positively, measurably, and specifically.
'I would love for you to plan one evening a month alone for us where we have no phones or electronics for a three-hour block of time.'
You can transform criticism by stating the underlying desire. Be clever, not critical. You can eliminate the need for criticism altogether by catching your partner in the act of doing something right―even a seemingly mundane thing―and acknowledging it.
'It really helped when you unloaded the dishwasher.'
'Thank you for the wonderful hug you just gave me.'
'It feels so good when you smile at me and look at me with
those soft eyes.'
'Thank you for remembering I had that review at work today because your note of encouragement lifted my spirits.'
Your partner is very interested in your desires but cannot hear you when they come in the form of criticism. Stay connected by sending your positive message in a positive package.
Don't forget you can catch a mood, so try infecting your partner with positivity. Remember to differentiate. The only person you can change is yourself, and you alone can promote positive change and help keep the path clear for connection by transforming criticism into desire and appreciation.
©2015 Pat Love, Kathleen McFadden, Eva Bertander. All rights reserved. Reprinted from You're Tearing Us Apart: Twenty Ways We Wreck Our Relationships and Strategies to Repair Them. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.