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Consider the role you are playing!

This is extremely difficult, and to do it you must be very honest with yourself. Try to step back from the situation and ask yourself if there’s any way you can behave differently to make things better.

The power of this technique was brought home to me years ago, when an extremely experienced relationship therapist and I were working together with couples who were having severe difficulties. A young woman had come to see us on her own, and spent the entire session complaining bitterly about all manner of faults in her husband. My colleague asked her why he hadn’t come along with her, and she replied that it was because “he’d never do such a thing”. My colleague’s response surprised me: “And why won’t you let him?” he asked. This simple but powerful suggestion allowed the unhappy woman to realise that she was inadvertently encouraging her husband to maintain his negativity.