Seven Guidelines for Safeguarding the Middle Ground (part 3)

Take a moment to jot down some thoughts about the guideline that poses the greatest problem in your relationship for you in terms of your actions and behavior, then jot down your thoughts on which guideline is most problematic in your partner’s actions and behaviors.

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EXERCISE: GUIDELINE MASTERY QUIZ

Rate your attitude to the following on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 means you agree strongly and 1 means you strongly disagree. You and your partner should write your answers on separate sheets of paper. Then, follow the instructions under “Scoring Procedure” to see where you stand.

  1. ___ Within the past eight months, I have not called my partner by an unflattering name (such as “stupid,” “bitch,” “bastard”) once.
  2. ___ Within the past eight months, I have called my partner by an unflattering name (such as “stupid,” “bitch,” “bastard”) one or more times.
  3. ___ Very rarely have I found myself speaking without thinking about what I am saying.
  4. ___ I believe in saying what I feel when I feel it, and letting the chips fall where they may.
  5. ___ Patience is a problem for me, but I can pull myself together and exhibit patience when it is required.
  6. ___ No matter what I do, I cannot hold my tongue when I get angry.
  7. ___ I recognize that my partner sometimes expresses himself or herself in a way that doesn’t really do justice to the way he or she feels or thinks.
  8. ___ I do not believe that my partner is capable of changing the way he or she thinks or expresses himself or herself.
  9. ___ If my partner were to tell me he or she needs a “time out” while we are talking, I would respect this and be ready to arrange another time to continue the conversation.
  10. ___ If my partner were to tell me he or she needs a “time out” while we are talking, I would feel offended and do what I could to keep the conversation going in the moment.

 

Scoring Procedure

  1. Total the number of points for even-numbered questions and for odd-numbered questions separately.
  2. Subtract the largest score total from the other score total. For example, if odd-numbered questions total 20, and the even-numbered questions total is 10, subtract the even total (10) from the odd total (20). The score you have then is 10, with odd-greater. If even questions totaled 36, and odd questions totaled 18, the result would be 18 even-greater.

 

Charting Results

For odd-greater scores: Scores of 0–9 indicate that you have absorbed some of the guideline principles but are committed to ideas that cause difficulties in creating middle ground dialogue as well. I strongly advise you to review the guidelines and spend time thinking about and working on the “Guideline Review” exercise that follows this quiz. Scores of 10–18 indicate that you have absorbed the majority of the guidelines. It will be important for you to clarify for yourself which guidelines are most problematic and work with yourself to become as aware as possible of when these behaviors, actions, or attitudes negatively affect your relationship. Scores of 18 or above indicate a firm grasp of the guidelines presented.

For even-greater scores: Scores of 0–9 indicate that you probably have difficulty controlling your anger, thinking before speaking, and/or granting your partner the benefit of the doubt for the sake of encouraging an open dialogue. Review the guidelines carefully, and in working on the “Guideline Review” exercise that follows this quiz. I recommend that you attempt to keep a journal to track your attempts to implement these middle-ground guidelines. Improving your grasp of these concepts will be important in creating a middle ground with your partner. Scores of 10–18 indicate that your difficulty controlling your anger is fairly severe. You may consider yourself an impatient person. You may experience despair at the possibility of gaining greater control of your anger or of working through difficulties with your partner. The good news is that the guidelines are clear and straightforward. If you work with your-self, you can make significant changes. It will be important for you to keep a journal or, if you do not think you could keep a journal, figure out a method of prompting yourself to become increasingly conscious of how you handle your anger and your attitude toward your partner when you try to discuss any issue. Do you allow for disagreements? Do you find that you are continuously disappointed and angry with your partner? Read over the exercises in this book especially the “Basic Three-Step,” “Reaching Out from the Inside,” and “One Talks, the Other Doesn’t.” Scores of 18 or above indicate that you need a wake-up call. It seems that you are angry much of the time and tend to be impatient and intolerant of your partner. Go over the guidelines carefully. Read over the suggestions made above; they can help you strengthen your communication skills. If you work with the concept of the middle ground and the exercises, you can make great progress.

EXERCISE: GUIDELINE REVIEW

Of the seven guidelines discussed in this chapter, is there one that is most relevant to your relationship?

  1. Avoid generalizing and stereotyping.
  2. Do not blurt responses.
  3. No name calling.
  4. Speak honestly and judiciously.
  5. Develop patience. Sustain it.
  6. Think about what your partner says in terms of who your partner is.
  7. Time-out signal have it in place; use it as needed.

 

Take a moment to jot down some thoughts about the guideline that poses the greatest problem in your relationship for you in terms of your actions and behavior. Try and explain as best you can why this is so.

Jot down your thoughts on which guideline is most problematic in your partner’s actions and behaviors. Explain how you understand your partner’s actions and behaviors in terms of who he or she is as a person as best you can.

Give yourself a moment to reflect on how your relationship would change if you could incorporate these guidelines into your interactions most of the time. Take a few minutes to formulate your thoughts in a notebook.


The Power Of Middle Ground

This article was adapted with permission from The Power Of Middle Ground: A Couples Guide to Renewing Your Relationship copyright © 2009 by Marty Babits, LCSW, BCD (New York, NY) Pometheus Books 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherts, New York 14228-2119 Marty Babits, LCSW, BCD (New York, NY), is a psychotherapist in private practice and a member of the Executive Supervisory Committee of FACTS (the Family and Couples Treatment Service) of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.

 

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