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How We Both Win

LindaThere is a political activist hat I admire named George Lakey. He has been a successful change agent in the area of non-violent actions for five decades. In his inspirational book, How We Win, he makes the important distinction between a protest and a campaign. “When I look back on the protests I’ve joined over the years, I don’t remember a single one that changed the policy we were protesting.” He draws a sharp contrast between a protest designed for venting, and a campaign, which is characterized by clear goals and sustainability. It takes sustained power tactics to obtain a lasting shift.

When working with couples, a counselor frequently witnesses their frustration spilling over into rage-filled outbursts.  Although they do not become physically violent, the intensity of their verbal violence, complete with accusations, blame, and threats is difficult for everyone, both members of the couple and the therapist as well. In the midst of one of these painful interchanges, I remembered a horrifying TV news scene of a violent demonstration, complete with protestors throwing rocks, police striking them with bill clubs, and then dragging them off to paddy wagons to take them to jail.

Consider the case of Claudia and Jack.

Claudia’s complaints were nebulous. “I’m so unhappy in this marriage. I feel so unloved. You are failing me. I just can’t stand this.” Jack always countered with “I do love you. I do value you. You expect too much of me.” Her fear, that came out as attacks on Jack, would first provoke resistance, then retaliation and was finally followed by Jack’s stony silence.

It was a turning point in the counseling session when Claudia grasped the distinction between a demonstration and a campaign. She self observed enough to grasp that the circular nature of their unproductive interactions was largely due to her being overwhelmed with fear that she would never get what she needed from Jack. Once she calmed down, she could see that Jack really did love her and truly wanted to understand what she needed from him. He was in need of her guidance.

Claudia took responsibility for being articulate in expressing her specific goals. In the process of Claudia containing her anger to articulate her goals their demonstration transformed into a campaign.

One of the first things she asked for was for Jack to spend time with her by sitting down with her to show interest by asking questions. Jack readily agreed. He told me he was delighted to be informed of something tangible that he could actually do. The ghastly impasse that had plagued them for literally years gave way. Jack said, “I know that setting clear goals is an essential part of a successful campaign. But I also know that sustainability is just as important. Just because we realize the missing pieces doesn’t mean that everything will be fine now. We will both be required to continue to choose the more reasonable path of communicating clearly, Claudia with her specific goals and needs and me with to show up giving more attention, presence and asking questions. The particular question that I find takes us the furthest is ‘What do you need from me right now?’”

Claudia says, “I’m embarrassed about how long I continued to throw fits when I wasn’t getting the loving attention that I need to thrive. I had characterized Jack as a selfish asshole that needed to be straightened out. Those tactics weren’t working but I was blind to any alternative. I know that old habits die hard, but I am committed to keeping my cool and being responsible about telling Jack what I would like at any specific time. I had no idea how vague I was being. Jack wanted to improve our relationship all that time we were fighting so much. But I hadn’t offered him a clear vision of what I was longing for. Things are much improved as a result of these two pieces of understanding, setting specific measurable goals and continuing over time with a joint determination for both of us to show up, and to co-operate to accomplish those goals. So I am now hopeful and confident that we can continue to grow an even better working partnership in our future.”

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How We Both Win


Bloomwork

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at: www.Bloomwork.com


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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). How We Both Win. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2019/09/how-we-both-win/

 

Last updated: 19 Sep 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.