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Couple's Net

By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Doghouse

Uploaded: Dec 2, 2013
If you're in the doghouse, or you put your partner in the doghouse, I encourage BOTH of you to work on getting him/her out. I know this seems contrary to putting your beloved in the doghouse.

When we're a couple, we're in this together, and we have to work together to keep a healthy, happy marriage. Even to the point of helping him/her out of the doghouse.

Most people do not do the thing that pisses you off in order to piss you off. We do it for another reason that fulfills a need we have. Often it's just the way it was done in my family.

If, instead, we can become curious about it, and suspend judgment, we can find out something much more important – what's going on behind the scenes.

You may be wondering, "How might this actually work?"

You might say, "Hmm, I notice I am (you are) in the doghouse. We don't want me (you) to be here. Would you give me a hand out, my love?"

Next, have a cup of tea or coffee, or lemonade, and once you're both calm, begin to wonder what happened. Use "I" statements. For example: "My intentions were to talk with you about _________. I can tell it didn't go well, because the impact on you was upsetting, and there I was, in the doghouse. I apologize for that. BTW, thanks for helping me out. That wasn't fun for either of us. Do you think we're ready to talk about _________ now? I'll try to go slowly and make room for you to say things, too."

I realize when I sit here in my quiet office that these are simple, but not necessarily easy things I am asking of you. Our culture is so strong on being right, getting in the last word, and so on.

Last week, my 17 y.o. son noticed that when I drive, I let people in, make space for them, and so on. I said that's the person I want and choose to be.
Maybe a simple kindness in a person's stressful day can make a difference.

Small things and small changes in a relationship make a huge difference over time. Think of a ship turning; a small adjustment to the wheel changes the destination.

These are the kind of changes I am asking you to make to shift from being good partners or roommates to being a couple again.

There's not much room in a doghouse, but perhaps you could entice him/her in there with you and playfully tussle before going on with your day.

(If you enjoy putting him/her in the doghouse, if that's how you want to treat your beloved, that's a different topic for another day.)

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