Dr. Paul Hannig Abusive Relationships need to be acknowledged. Healthy Relationships need to be understood and claimed. Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you want an ecstatic union? Stop the Denial! Get the help that you, your partner and your relationship needs! Let the Games Begin: Fair Fighting/Unfair Fighting Dr. Paul wants you to take a look inward at your fight tactics and how they are affecting your life. This "I" opening self-examination will inform you of your own destructive and constructive fight styles. By learning how you fight, you'll learn how you handle interpersonal difficulties---- and the consequences that affect your relationships and your influence on the world. With so many people struggling to form effective and happy relationships, why should you neglect your own ability to arrive at successful solutions? Finally there is a comprehensive and clear guide to help you specifically develop effective strategies for overcoming destructive fight styles. This easy to read format is a first of its kind in that it can help you in every aspect of your life; including your most important intimate relationships. After years of experimenting and trying out different methods for conflict resolution, Dr. Paul has found a plain language, user-friendly guide that can help you sort out the problems and find the best solutions to your conflicts and struggles. This section is a trustworthy guide to establishing Sizzling Relationships as recorded in the book of that name. If you are looking for an indispensable reference source dedicated to your need for successful conflict resolution, then this is the authoritative answer to your prayers. The use of one or two of these tactics, in a mild way, does not constitute abuse. But, if there is sufficient intensity and a considerable usage of many of these tactics, then the line to abuse has been crossed. Check off on the left-hand side of the page which fight tactics you employ. On the right hand side of the page, check off the fight tactics of your partner, if you have one. Make sure that your partner does the same exercise, so that the two of you are on the same page. Remember, this is a mutually agreed upon exercise. After the two of you have completed this task, compare answers to see how close the both of you came to recognizing each other's tactics. When this is finished, sit down and have a rational, calm and equal discussion about what the both of you have learned. If you have difficulty with this exercise, call Dr. Paul at once. He will walk you through it and help you find the right strategies. The Denial Game: Everybody needs help at some time or another. The statistics are alarming as to how many people are having difficulty with interpersonal relationships. If you play the denial game, you may or may not learn the hard way, through pain and suffering. It's much easier to catch a problem in its early phases then to try to fix it when the ship is sinking. Denial does not work and it reinforces the status quo. Recognize and acknowledge a problem in its early stages and you defeat the denial game. Don't allow yourself to be backed down by someone who denies that a problem exists. Be honest with yourself and face the music that something may be wrong. There is always a solution, whether it exists inside of you or in the communication and problem solving strategies of your most important relationships. Problems are meant to be solved and not tolerated to the point of your own extinction or the destruction of your most intimate relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship or have a history of abusive relationships and have come from an abusive background, you are probably accustomed to applying Mutually Dissatisfying Tactics and Solutions. But, remember that you must be brutally honest with yourself when it comes to acknowledging your abusive relationship tactics. Denial defends the status quo and prevents much-needed change. If you are in an abusive relationship, you may need to acknowledge that each partner needs therapeutic counseling as well as couples therapy. If the both of you acknowledge and recognize your abusive family backgrounds, then you can assume that you both are victims. But, do not allow the victim game to further destroy your relationship. Abusive relationships need to be freed from denial. Check with Dr. Paul about his Maltreatment Inventory. He said /She said: This is a very destructive and manipulative game. It goes like this;"He said that, you said this. Well, now wait a minute, I could have sworn that you said this. Am I going crazy? He said this to me about you and now I am telling someone else what he told me." The purpose of this game is defensive. It's meant to stack the cards in your favor in order to prove that you are "not bad or a victimizer/perpetrator." It is also used in battles where one partner is trying to prove his/her's "Goodness and Innocence." There is a lot of guilt in this game that usually represents disordered couples who are fighting to see who occupies the "victim" position. This strategy also crosses and violates many confidentiality boundaries and takes the fight outward instead of inward towards resolution with the partner. The "He said/She said," strategy confuses people, and is usually taken out of context and interpreted to the fighter's advantage. In court cases, a slasher may claim innocence due to insanity. Such, was the case between Lorena and John Bobbitt. Other such fighters, will gather evidence to prove that the fight partner is "crazy" or at least disturbed with some type of psychiatric disorder. Battling Perceptions: This fight strategy fails because neither partner will admit to their own lack of empathic listening and communication skills. It's a coverup for hiding the fear of being wrong and the need to be right. It is a cognitive distortion, because the participants mistakenly believe that their perceptions parade as reality. They become very fixed and rigid in their positions and refuse to acknowledge their own failures about knowing and meeting the real needs of their partners. Whenever two people engage in one ups manship and dueling perceptions, the person who engages in empathic listening and paraphrasing will defuse the possibility of a '' Right/Wrong conflict. Entertaining someone else's perceptions will put you in a position of avoiding arguments, sending acceptance and understanding messages and discovering the validity of someone else's ideas. It avoids the "My way or the highway" domination strategy. It's a proactive rather than a reactive approach. Mastering empathic listening and communication skills will eliminate ''battling perceptions." Next time you and your partner are having a conversation, practice deep listening and paraphrasing. Repeat back to your partner what you have heard and get confirmation that what you heard is what was said. Express your understanding of your partner's unique view. Try to take as much negativity as you can out of the conversation. Remember, you are not interested in character assassination or disrespectful negative judgments. You are solution oriented! Don't wallow in the struggle and do not allow yourself to escalate to a free for all. Leave the pit bull and the Vipers out of your discussions. Abusive families are low on the empathy skills scale. Successful families are high on the empathy skills scale. Ask Dr. Paul about his empathy training approach. The Anger/Fear Game: This game is part of the "I Don't Care" game. This strategy is usually conducted within a minefield where one or both partners claims "I really do love/care for her/him." However, your actions say the opposite. In the overall picture, you may love your spouse. But, you may hate his/her's annoying and destructive behavior. If such behavior continues over a long period of time, love will go out the window and hell and hate will fill the family atmosphere. It is difficult to eradicate anger and fear from a relationship. But it can be contained within reasonable and rational bounds or taken outside and worked off through very effective systematic therapy techniques. For some couples, fear and anger has to be taken completely out of the relationship, because the partners are using those emotions to control each other. I recommend that each of you make a very strong commitment to taking fear and anger out of your relationship. It has no place there; especially if it's evil spirited. Fear and anger is not about the other person. It is about yourself! You need to take anger and fear out of your life and out of your most precious relationship. Learn to control these two emotions when they are beginning to rise up inside of you. Don't justify or rationalize them. Observe your feelings and acknowledge them, to yourself. But don't throw them into the middle of a melee. You don't want this fire to explode. Keep it to a spark! If you need to, when the fires have died down, you may share your negative emotion with your spouse. But, don't escalate fear and rage by throwing it into an intense whirlpool. Learn how to say, "I feel angry when.................," instead of engaging in rageholism. "I feel afraid when............ can you take this out of my life and our marriage?" Then engage in paraphrasing strategies in order to convey understanding of what is needed. Intense over reactive anger and fear feelings are destructive and could lead to very dangerous results. Look at the pain and the hurt that lurks behind defensive, escalated, exaggerated, maximized anger and fear. Maximizing of these emotions needs to be corrected in your thinking processes. Keep a daily log for a whole week of all of your negative thoughts. When you monitor your thoughts and your feelings, you are in a better position for eliminating destructive anger and fear reactions. Remember, that anger and fear are based on internal thoughts and feelings that influence your behavior destructively. When you discover, after considerable monitoring, the thoughts that fuel your anger and fear, you should consider how you can modify and reframe those thoughts to a much more constructive outcome. You do not want your partner to see you as angry and fearful; especially when those emotions are acted out instead of discussed rationally. If you choose to contain your fear and anger, you'll experience a much more positive consequence. If you choose to act out your fear and anger on each other, you'll choose to suffer the consequences. When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. Choose positive thoughts and behavior and you will reap positive results. If your fear and your anger causes injury to your partner, he/she will withdraw. Is this what you want; to hurt someone and push them away and cause them to be afraid and to distrust you? It doesn't seem like such an effective strategy. So, why do you do it? Is it the goal of your anger and fear to control someone and make them do things that they do not want to do just so you will feel safe? Do you really want to push your partner away and cause pain? Is that your goal? Change your thinking and you change your life. If getting angry and fearful does not work, why use it? Understand what you want and need. Define your true goals and line up your thoughts, feelings and behavior towards attaining that goal. Don't use old and worn out thinking and behavior. It's gotten you nowhere! Think problem solving strategies, reduction of negative thinking and worn out relationship habits. Consider the welfare of your relationship and your family. Drop the selfishness and tune into each other's needs. Work towards intimacy and satisfaction, rather than destruction and hollow victories. If it doesn't work, get rid of it and replace it with something that does. Stop spinning your wheels with the same old ineffective strategies and archaic behaviors. This is a new dawning for yourself and your relationship. Get it? Stop fighting and arguing in front of yourselves. Make your life, peace on earth! Withdrawal: I'll bet when you engage in a dirty fight with your partner, you decide to withdraw. For some people, that seems to work. After a knock down, dragged out battle, they go off and lick their wounds. How does your withdrawal affect your partner? Do you announce that you are going off to work on your anger and fear and that you will soon be back with a better attitude, mood and communication? Every move that you make that is outward from your principal relationship has a possible consequence. Announcing that your going off to get yourself clear and come back and be more real says to your partner that you care about the relationship enough to work on yourself. But, if you use withdrawal as a weapon and you do not come back clearer than when you left, how does that affect your relationship? In your withdrawal, did you eliminate your negative thoughts, feelings and stressors? Or was your withdrawal a form of punishment for the misdeeds of your partner? If you do choose to withdraw, do you come back and share yourself honestly with your partner? Or do you remain silent and noncommunicative, while leaving your partner wondering what you were thinking while you were away? Pouting is for hurt little children. It's part of a game of hide and seek. "I'll hide and you try to find me." Do the loving thing! Some people use a relationship cut off strategy. In the middle of an issue or unfinished business, this person, unexplainedly, cuts off contact and disappears. At some point, this individual suddenly reappears and offers no explanation, leaving the partner wondering. If you use withdrawal as a fight tactic, remember to come back and share with your partner how you got clear and resolved with yourself. This may be a good time for a heartfelt apology and a discussion of how the two of you can avoid future mistakes by using strategies that work. Apologies that are sincere, communicate to your partner that you have taken responsibility and acknowledged what you did that contributed to the problem. An apology that is used just to make up, without acknowledging self-responsibility, will only reinforce distrust and future explosions. Make sure, when and if you withdraw , that you come back with deep internal resolution and positive thinking/behavior changes. Your goal is not just to make up after a war; it is to discover and negotiate solutions that eradicate future outbreaks. It is always better to check with your partner to see if withdrawal is experienced as a provocation . "Cold Feet" is the name of the game. In a physically abusive relationship, withdrawal may be the only answer. Withdrawal can be an unfair fight tactic. It is based on an unfair need to control your partner and other people. Sometimes, it is spiteful and destructive. You cannot build a beautiful relationship if you make a unilateral decision to withdraw. It hurts your partner and fills him/her with fear and distrust. Is this the effect that you want to happen or do you wish to build love and trust in your relationship. And don't forget what effect that your unilateral decision to withdraw will have on your children and the rest of the family. Unfair withdrawal is a love destroyer. It kills trust and reinforces fear. It is not a negotiable solution. Get rid of it and grow up. It's time to act like an adult, rather than like a scared little rabbit. You are a married person with mature responsibilities. Take the bull by the horns and say to yourself, "Today, I choose not to be afraid. Today, I choose to not withdraw. Just for today, I will not worry. Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing. Just for today, I will be kind to my partner. Just for today, I will not be afraid. Just for today, I will be responsible for my actions. Just for today, I will not be spiteful. Just for today, I will not be vengeful. Just for today, I will give thanks for many blessings. Just for today, I will not make unilateral decisions that effect others. Just for today, I will communicate with my partner and negotiate a mutual satisfying agreement. Just for today, I choose not to anger. I choose not to worry and I choose to be filled with gratitude. Just for today, I will not blame. Withdrawal is such an unfair fight tactic that it leaves your partner and your relationship hanging in midair. Cutting off the action in your relationship by withdrawal is emasculating to the relationship. Withdrawal is different than a timeout which is announced by raising your hands in a "T" sign. Timeouts are different than withdrawals. They slow down the action in order to find workable solutions. Withdrawal cuts off the action and leaves people smoldering in fear, anger and frustration. Learn how to use the timeout symbol in order to slow the action down so that you can negotiate mutually satisfying solutions to relationship sticking points. Don't contribute to the downfall of your marriage and family. Become a problem solver, not a problem maker. Timeouts create moments of understanding and clarity. Withdrawal just adds fuel to the fire and has devastating side effects.... Stop your emotional reactivity and become proactive. Stay calm and rational. Hold your ground and decide that you are strong enough to negotiate a mutually satisfying solution with your partner. Unilateral withdrawal goes against your partner and cuts your relationship down to an unstable level. Stabilize yourself and you stabilize your most important relationship----- Yourself and Your Partner! If you want respect, give it by respecting the rights and feelings of others. Everything that you do effects your partner and other family members. Withdrawal does not engender respect and trust. Communication does! If one partner in an abusive relationship refuses to get professional help and the other does, then leaving is the only same thing to do if the abuse continues. Remember, Safety First----- restrain and retrain. You'll have to learn how to get along sooner or later. Negative Judgments: Disrespectful judgments have no place in a serious love match. In fact, I know of no situation that warrants hypercritical judgments as a means of fostering harmony, goodwill and love. Negative judgments destroy relationships and reduce love accounts to the divorce level. This fight style consists of low verbal blows that create distrust and distance. No one wants to be around a dirty fighter who uses negative judgments like a scorpion or a viper uses the poison in its mouth to kill prey. Monitor and record any negative judgments that move through your mind and press for verbal expression. Do you direct your disrespectful judgments at your partner? I'll bet you that your partner possesses attitudes, behaviors and feelings that you do not find attractive. Determine what those behaviors are and devise non-defensive, non-attacking effective strategies for dealing with these distasteful interactions. If you return tit for tat, you will have fallen into the trap of who can Out Judge the other. Do not become reactive. Observe and mentally acknowledge your feelings. Don't suppress your emotions. Make a mental note of what you are feeling. Your partner is just doing his or her thing. He or she would do the same thing with someone else, even if you weren't there. Do not personalize your partner's actions and judgments. Unless you want warfare? Some people just do not possess adequate social and emotional skills. If you choose to be reactive and nonobservant, you will only keep repeating the cycle of conflict. Practice self-control through observation and non-reactivity. By doing so, you will feel more successful for not taking the provocative bait. By not taking the bait by reacting to your usual triggers, you avoid an abusive interaction. If you don't allow yourself to get sucked into the game in the first place, you will be free. Your partner will have to give up the game or find someone else to play it with. If your partner blitzes you with a surprise attack, don't react. Just observe and work your feelings later in privacy. You cannot control or change someone else through reactivity. Negative interactions can only be modified during calm periods of discussion. Punishment, rejection, abandonment, threats and throwing your partner out of the house does not work and only adds to the pool of resentment and anger. Acknowledge that your partner possesses triggers that push your hot buttons. Be prepared and expect to be hit with negative behavior. Prepare yourself to observe and be non-reactive. Conflicts usually occur according to cycles. There is always the beautiful calm before the raging storm. Figure out your relationship cycles and vigorously discipline yourself to observe and be non-reactive. If you do not reinforce provocative, baiting behavior with your own reactivity, your partner's negative behavior will diminish. But, don't expect overnight miracles. Sometimes, when you choose to not play the reactive game, your partner will escalate provocations in order to seek negative rewards. Eventually, your partner will stop trying to suck you into an angry battle, because the negative reinforcement is not forthcoming. Your partner may have a difficult time expressing emotions. He or she may just need to ventilate in order to get to the real feelings. This may cause a problem for you; because in the process of ventilation, you will hear a lot of distorted meanings, mixed emotions, hostility and other unfriendly statements. I know that you just want to be loved and be treated with a lot of positive respect. But, if your partner has a wall of negative emotions that exist on the surface, he or she may need to ventilate before getting to the underlying feelings. By not allowing your partner to ventilate through talking, you'll only reinforce more repression and by so doing, you will guarantee future explosions. If your partner is harboring a lot of resentment and pain, he or she will have to go to someone else, other than you in order to air out grievances and get to the bottom line. Remember, your partner as well as you, needs to be heard. This may be the first time in his or her life that feelings have accumulated to the point of expression and that expression may look unfriendly. Everything has to come out sooner or later! People who are high in social emotional skills, usually do not engage in the battle for supremacy by negative judgmental weaponry. People who use negative judgments as a relationship weapon usually do not possess adequate empathic listening skills and rely more on cat/dog fighting. If you negatively Judge, strike it from your life once and for all. And insist that your partner does the same. Do not Judge unless you are willing to be judged by the same standards that you Judge others! I have yet to see a relationship on the rocks that did not use negative judgments as a means of destruction. Such marriages share very little intimacy and the partners usually blame each other for the problems in the relationship. Stop the madness and do everything you can to build your partner into the loving person that he or she is. If you don't do it, someone else will. And by all means, check out your thought processes for any signs of distorted and negative thinking. Remember, you don't want to be right -- you want to be effective. Do what works! Do you want to be a lover or a fighter? Don't avoid the real issues by hiding behind negative judgments! Get a mental enema and flush out the negative crap that you put on your partner. If you want to build love into your relationship, you will need to sanitize your thinking. Erase every thought from your mind that hurts your partner. Replace it with spiritual Unconditional Love. Check with Dr. Paul's spiritual counseling strategies. Love is the answer! There are powerful spiritual and cognitive tools for mental sanitation and purification by love. Grudge Matching: So, your partner did something a long time ago and you judged it to be horrible, awful etc. etc. Because you interpreted that past event as something awful, catastrophic and should not have existed at all, you are holding one big grudge. The problem with such relationships is that both of you usually seek to gather evidence to justify and rationalize the destruction of the relationship. It's the game, "I'm good, you are bad." People with low self-worth play the opposite game, "I'm bad, you are good and right." A version of this game is, "Injustice Collecting." The status quo conflict is maintained by a strategy of Never Forgive/Never Forget. Each of you mirrors the other with mutual Blame Storming, backed up by rationalization and justification. Could it be that a certain portion of your thinking may be responsible for the predicament that you find yourself in. Keep a log of your negative thoughts concerning your partner for a full week. See if you have engaged in a certain kind of thinking called, "Awfulizing, Terriblizing, Catastrophizing.'' This maximization of emotional reactions, behavior and thinking sends your relationship out of the orbit of rational thinking and effective problem solving. Ask yourself if you are still holding a grudge that justifies your distrust and fear towards rebuilding an effective relationship. Grudge holding is erroneously used to justify adversarial positions. Stop this kind of thinking and decide what has to be done to build a rewarding and healed relationship. Otherwise, you'll be keeping the battle going. If you want peace in your relationship, take out your awfulizing thinking and your grudge matching. There is a time for peace and time for war. Forgive the past insults for your own sake and healing and bring the battle to a conclusion. Forgiveness follows a formula of 7x 70=490 and is backed up by concentrated efforts to wash your mind in a sea of unconditional love. A mind that is sanctified and purified with total spiritual love will not have any room for negative, repetitive, ancient, hostile, distrustful thoughts. By letting go of grudge thinking, you set the stage for creating an intimate relationship where your self torturing thinking does not interfere with ecstatic union. When unconditional love dominates your mind, you will need to stand guard and monitor the intrusion of habitual destructive thinking. Once you have allowed your holy love to dominate your ego, you will commit yourself to exorcising your fearful, angry, distrustful thoughts. When you allow unconditional love to rule your mind, your partner becomes the most incredible, fantastic and beautiful/handsome person on earth. You will, then, move into the world of absolute trust, a world without fear, anger and uncontrolled negative emotional reactions.