Lennis J Marvel, LCSW

Counseling Services, LLC - Blue Springs MO

  1. Withdrawal and avoidance - this is when one partner shows an unwillingness to get into or stay with important discussions. Withdrawal can be as obvious as getting up and leaving the room or as subtle as "turning off" or "shutting down" during an argument. Avoidance reflects the same reluctance to participate in certain discussions, with more emphasis on preventing the conversation from happening in the first place.

  2. Invalidation - is a pattern in which one partner subtly or directly puts down the thoughts, feelings or character of the other. Sometimes such comments, intentionally or unintentionally, lower the self-esteem of the targeted person. Invalidation can take many forms. One partner says to the other that their feelings (for example: sadness and frustration) are inappropriate. Invalidation hurts. It leads naturally to covering up who you are and what you think, because it becomes just too risky to do otherwise. People naturally cover up their innermost feelings when they believe that they will be "put down.

  3. Negative interpretations - occur when one partner consistently believes that the motives of the other are more negative than is really the case. The actions of one partner are interpreted negatively and unfairly. Research tells us that people tend to see what they expect to see in others and in situations. In fact, we have a very strong tendency toward "confirmation bias" which consist of looking for evidence that confirms what we already think is true about a person or situation. In distressed relationships, the partners tend to discount the positive things they see, attributing to causes such as chance rather than to any positive characteristics of the partner.  

  4. Escalation - occurs when partners negatively respond back and forth to each other, continually upping the ante so conditions get worse and worse. Partners tend to say things that threaten the very lifeblood of their relationship. Partners often try to hurt each other by hurling verbal (and sometimes physical) weapons. When escalation includes the use of intimate knowledge as a weapon, the threat to the future likelihood of tender moments is great. Who's going to share deep feelings if the information may be used later when conflict is out of control in the relationship?