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Title: Anniversary Blues Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: © 2003 by Margaret Paul Web Address: http://www.innerbonding.com Word Count: 1110 Category: Relationships
Anniversary Blues By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Jamie and Kurt are a sweet, successful couple in their early thirties. In spite of loving each other deeply, they often find themselves in conflict over seemingly minor issues, as most couples do. Recently, just one week before their wedding anniversary, they had a particularly hurtful argument. Jamie had expressed her unhappiness about Kurtís busy schedule and limited time he finds to spend with her. As usual, Kurt promised to try harder and they got through it. But having not dealt with real issues at hand, problem was bound to resurface. Jamie unknowingly began planting seeds for their next bout when she decided to bring up subject of their anniversary.
"Kurt, I just wanted to remind you that next week is our anniversary and itĎs really important that we plan something special for us."
Kurt took a deep breath and responded, "Jamie, you know I donít really like celebrations." "Oh come on Kurt. Itís really important to me." Nearly pleading, Jamie continued. "When you really love someone, you try to do what is important to them, right? I made plans last year and now itís your turn. Why donít you surprise meÖsomething really romantic! Okay?"
Silent and distant, Kurt gave a slight nod, which was all assurance Jamie needed that this anniversary would be exceptional. She could barely work that week fantasizing about what Kurt would do to demonstrate his everlasting love. Finally, day arrived! Kurt had agreed to be home by six o clock. By twenty past six, Jamie was anxious. With each glance at clock, her pacing quickened. At last, Kurt walked through door looking tense and clutching a bouquet of red roses. Jamie took roses with a wary smile, anticipating what was coming next. Without even so much as a glance, Kurt turned around, got a beer out of fridge, and sank into couch, grabbing remote control.
Jamie watched intently, feeling her blood turn to ice. "Thatís it?" she asked.
"Thatís it? Itís our anniversary!" Jamieís tone grew sharp. "You said you would plan something special and romantic and thisÖ" shaking roses in her clenched fist, "this is it?"
"I never said I would do anything," Kurt retorted. "I told you it wasnít my thing." "Don t lie to me! You nodded yes!"
"No, I didnít. I didnít agree to anything. You always want me to prove that I love you. I hate that! Even if I did want to do something for our anniversary, I certainly wouldnít want to after you tell me you expect it! Sullenly, Kurt turned back to TV. You take all fun out of everything.
Jamie dissolved into tears. "Well if you knew how to show me you loved me, I wouldnít have to say anything."
Without a word, Kurt turned off TV and left house.
Once again, Jamie and Kurt were left feeling unheard and unappreciated. Their conditioned response was to blame each other for their hurt feelings and angry behavior.
In order to understand how things went so wrong, we need to look at interaction in terms of their intention to learn or their intention to protect.
Jamie starts out trying to control Kurt by making him feel guilty. Kurt, not wanting to be controlled and not able to communicate how being controlled makes him feel, moves into resistance, which is his form of control. Jamie thinks that laying on more guilt (control) will accomplish her objective to have a romantic anniversary. Since Kurt is frustrated with his inability to express his brewing feelings, he moves into silence (control). Finally, when Kurt comes home late and sits on sofa, he demonstrates passivity (control) to which Jamie responds with anger (control). Kurt uses more resistance (control) and Jamie uses more anger and guilt (control). Kurt gets defensive (control) and disappears (control). Attack, resist, blame, defend, on and onÖSound familiar?