Box 3.1 Coercive Means of Influencing the Partner
- criticize the accusations
- feel guilty
- Consume, make bad
- Press, don’t let go
- set conditions
- Intentionally injured, hitting sore spots
- To shut up, to withdraw love, to punish
- intimidation and threat
Partners know each other well enough to know the means of coercion working on the other. In the short term, the means of coercion are quite successful: those who use coercion experience how the other person satisfies their desires again. If you give in under pressure, you end the unpleasant situation and experience your partner more positively again. The effort of coercion and surrender is reinforced in this way and can take root in a relationship pattern – the process of coercion is initiated. Of course, this has negative consequences for the marital relationship. Feelings of anger and disappointment, but also fear, get stronger and stronger. In addition, the means of coercion wear out. People are used to criticism, accusations and punishments. For this reason, the means of coercion must be increased to have an effect. Escalation may occur.
How can a couple penetrate the coercion process? The couple researchers and professors of psychology Ludwig Schindler, Kurt Hallweg and Dirk Riefenstorf write: “In order to reverse this process, the ‘heroic’ action of at least one partner is required to continuously give the other a leap of faith. This would […] It means that it increases the rate of positive behaviors, although in the short term they are only expected to be negative and there are no positive outcomes” (Schindler et al. 2006, p. 54). Although this does not quite match the feelings of the moment, one The two partners put the means of coercion and reaffirm his or her needs, trust that the other will respond willingly.At the same time, seek to pay attention to the needs and feelings of the other person to make his or her means of coercion unnecessary.Because strong negative feelings must be overcome, this is almost too difficult. As mentioned, the seekers speak of heroic deed, and in fact we experience people as heroes who can overcome strong emotions – who forgive when everything screams for revenge, trust when there is a threat in the air, and show love when there is no expected response.
What is described here scientifically means nothing less than the ability to overcome evil with good. You may have guessed at this point how great the potential for growth in marital relationships is: because in many marital relationships there are cycles in which patterns of negative behavior build up. Even some relationships fail because of it. In other relationships there are forbidden topics. Once the couple starts talking about it, they get into a negative cycle. Then most couples withdraw from the burdened area of their relationship and let it cool off. This can be, for example, certain aspects of sexual life, dealing with the original family, certain areas of child-rearing or annoying habits of the partner. Where couples succeed in confronting the taboo subject and at the same time breaking out of the vicious cycle, they regain their full potential for development.
The path to and out of the coercion process can be illustrated using a concrete situation: Catherine is emotional and impulsive type, and Rolf is reserved and reflective. Katherine Rolfe has always been experienced as an attentive and attentive man until he pulled out during a phase of professional stress. Since then, Catherine has felt lonely and neglected in the relationship. She admonished Rolf, demanded his time together, and even took him out of activities to talk. As a result, Rolf established an emotional safety distance from Catherine and only approached her when she behaved in a very loving manner. Couples therapy Kathryn and Rolf helps make the compulsion process understandable and develop ways to show vulnerable feelings. Rolf talks about the guilt he felt over his growing professional commitment and how he felt like a bad partner. He could also reveal his need for Catherine’s approval. In turn, Catherine learns to show how quickly she feels abandoned and irrelevant to Rolf. Now it’s easier for both of you to resolve conflicts in a way that makes the other feel more comfortable and to find compromises that do justice to your feelings. In this way, the means of coercion can also be reduced – accusations, claims and love withdrawals are becoming increasingly rare.