Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Barry Erases Valerie Again

Valerie was hurt and upset. Barry dismissed her plans for the Thanksgiving holiday but supported the same proposals coming from cousin Ruth. What made it even worse was that Barry seemed oblivious to the stinging rebuke he had dealt his wife. Silenced by the lump growing in her throat and the hot tears pricking her eyes, Valerie pretended to be busy in the kitchen. She had to get a grip on herself for the sake of her guests.

Nothing Valerie Says Counts

” I think we should go to the Mountains with Ruth and her family this year. We won’t have to worry about our parents competing with one another for the best pies and stuffing.” Barry commented as he got ready for bed.

” I’ve been telling you that for the last couple of weeks, but you only listen to Ruth.” Valerie huffed getting under the covers.

” It’s not true. You are just hypersensitive,” snubbed Barry while reaching out to caress her.

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Valerie Lets Barry Have it

Valerie pushed Barry’s hand away and let him have it. “You really hurt me Barry. You do this all the time. Nothing I say counts. You ignored me when I asked you to pace yourself with the weight training. Yet when your mother warned you to slow down you immediately altered your schedule. I begged you not to feed the cat the remains of the Chinese food because she would throw up all night. You told me it was nonsense. But you believed your golf buddy when he cautioned you about the same thing.”

“You are making a big deal out of nothing! What’s got into you? Are your hormones playing up?” Barry countered, defending himself against the unexpected attack.

” I don’t know why you bother asking my opinion on anything. You don’t take me seriously. You make me feel that my ideas are worthless, until of course they are corroborated by someone else who has authority in your eyes. If I am so dumb why did you marry me?” Valerie pleaded.

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The Marital G.P.S. Gets Hit By A Brown Out

Valerie felt disregarded by Barry and banished him to his own planet. Barry felt locked out without a key. Alone in their own kingdoms, the couple orbited around their relationship on different pathways. The martial G.P.S. got hit by a brown out, and neither of them had a flashlight to help them mend the fuse.

Valerie and Barry Are Both Scared

Scared in the darkness of conflict and misattunement, neither felt safe taking a step toward the other. Valerie insisted Barry had to jump onto her planet. She needed him to validate her foresight and wisdom by valuing her opinions. She wanted to feel like an equal player, not an extension of her husband. She was fighting for her individuality.

Valerie’s Opinions Feel Threatening to Barry

Barry wanted Valerie to leap into his world and recreate the feeling that they were joined at the hip. That would provide the ultimate security blanket. It was unsettling and somewhat of a threat to have Valerie out there separate from him, with thoughts and feelings that were alien to him. That was the first step along the slippery slope leading to the break up of their marriage.

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Barry Choices For Reconnecting with Valerie

Torn apart and distant Valerie and Barry feel lonely, and misunderstood. Each has a choice. Barry can sit on his throne, waiting for Valerie to come around, apologize, make up and feel victorious. Or he can choose to broaden the vista through which he looks at his marriage. He can chose to be curious and talk to her about her feelings. He can take a step toward reconnecting with her by understanding his part in contributing to Valerie’s sense of devaluation. He can talk to her about how devalued he feels when he is cast off from her kingdom.

Valerie’s Menu For Creating an Equal Partnership

Valerie also has a choice. She can wait for Barry to get so scared of being without her that he comes crawling with false apologies. She may feel vindicated at that moment, but it does nothing to ensure that this problem is solved. Alternatively Valerie can put on a cloak of empathy for Barry’s sense of insecurity. She can encourage him to share his fears and educate him about similar concerns she faces about their marriage.

Trading the Tug Of War For a Partnership That Works

If Barry and Valerie choose to put themselves in each others’ shoes, they create a third planet called partnership. In this sphere there is no tug of war, but a blending and enriching of each of them. They forge a strong resource that both can tap into when challenged by fears and insecurities.

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Valerie’s Planet, Barry’s Planet, and the Marriage Planet Orbit Together

A healthy partnership has three planets in orbit all the time, touching and moving away as necessary to keep the marital universe stable. Each partner operates from their unique sphere, coming together and overlapping in the third realm of marital union, where the two trajectories meet, exchange, cross fertilize and flourish.