There is hope. Unhealthy patterns of adjustment can be acknowledged and changed into healthy coping skills. For example, one woman told me she used to make her husband listen to long lists of his character flaws. Her husband responded by defending himself. She had learned to deal with troubling emotions and relationship issues when she was a child by watching her parents berate each other. She knew no other way. Now as an adult, she felt chronically frustrated with her husband because he never listened attentively or attempted any significant change.
One day just after she finished another verbal beating, her husband responded by saying, “Honey, did it occur to you that I could come up with a list of your faults, too?”
This woman told me she was dumbfounded because she had never considered her husband’s point of view. The next time she felt like reading her husband a long list of his faults, she tried seeing matters from his perspective. She consciously took a good look at herself and what she was doing that contributed to the friction in their relationship. When she did this, her mind was filled with positive actions she could take to improve their relationship. This woman has successfully changed a negative pattern of adjustment into a positive coping skill that continues to serve her well.