Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
9Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Learning Forgiveness: Peacemaking skills for couples

Learning Forgiveness: Peacemaking skills for couples

Ratings: (0)|Views: 1,486 |Likes:

More info:

Published by: Dr Kenneth Silvestri on Oct 02, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

11/08/2012

pdf

text

original

 
CASESTUDY
ualsandcouples.FredericLuskinconductstrain- ingfortherapistsaroundtheUnitedStatesand KenSilvestriandJedRosen,eachwith25yearsor moreofclinicalexperience,haveworkedto incorporatetheteachingofforgivenessskillsinto theirpractices.Inourclinicalwork,we'veregu- larlybeensurprisedthatclientscomingtoushave oftenbeentotherapistswhodon'tknowhowto helpthemforgiveand,asaresult,haveremained stuckinseeminglyirresolvableemotionaltangles. Thefollowingcaseillustratesamodelincorporat- ingaspectsofcognitivedisputation,narrative therapy,gratitudepractice,positiveemotion enhancement,andstressmanagementthat's designedtohelppeoplediscoverwhatitmeansto forgive.DonandSarahadbeenmarriedfor25years andhadtwochildren.Tenyearsbeforecomingto therapy,SarahadtoldDonaboutanaffairshe'd hadduringthefirstyearoftheirmarriage.She'd quicklydiscontinuedtherelationship,butwasso plaguedbyguiltthat,15yearslater,shefeltcom- pelledtorevealhersecret.Donhadbeenstunned bythenews,andhishurtandangerhadn'tsub- sided.Hecouldn'tgetpasthisfeelingthathiswife hadpermanentlyhumiliatedhim.Despitethe passageoftime,hecontinuedtoblameherfor shatteringhistrustinandcommitmenttoher. Atthepointtheycametotherapy,Sara'sguilt overtheaffairhadmorphedintobitternessand resentmenttowardherhusband.Shenowsaw Don'sangerasonlyanexcusetopunishher.She complainedthathisunrelentingcriticismhad destroyedherself-confidenceasawifeandmoth- er.Forthepastyear,she'drefusedanysexualrela- tionshipwithhim."Donsayshewantsintimacy withme,butheneverstopsremindingmeofthe affair,"shesaid."HowcanIgetclosetoaperson who'ssopissedatmeallthetime?" Theirrelationshipwascharacterizedbyshifts fromwarmfriendshipandcooperativeparenting toverbalabuseandscreamingfights,resultingin polarizedstandoffs.Inonetherapysession,Don turnedabruptlyonSara:"Icanneverstopthink- ingthatinthosefirsttwoyears,whenIwasbust- ingmyasseachdayrunningmybusiness,you~
BYFREDERICLUSKIN,KENSILVESTRI,ANDJEDROSEN
LearningForgiveness
Peacemakingskillsforcouples
JOHNGOTTMAN,INHISOFTEN-CITEDmarital research,foundthat70percentoftheproblems thatcouplescomplainaboutarepresentfromthe beginningoftheirrelationship.Toooften,these problemsdevolveintoyearsofcriticismandcon- tempt-which,Gottmanfound,destroymarriages inthelongrun.Fortunately,Gottmanandother researchershavediscoveredthat,evenwhenpart- nerscan't
change
eachother,theycan
forgive
eachother.Infact,forgiveness, evenintheabsenceofbehavioral change,isakeytosustainingasue- cessfullong-termrelationship.Since apparentlyunchangeablecharac- teristicsandbehaviorsarefoundin mostrelationships,whynothelp coupleslearnmutualforgivenessas anindispensableskillforcreating andmaintaininggoodwill,evenif theycan'trealizetheirmostutopian visionofblissfulpartnership? Aseriesofresearchstudiescalled theStanfordForgivenessProjects,an extensive,long-termexplo- rationoftheheal- ingproperties offorgiveness, hasexplored manydifficult issues,ranging fromforgivinga child'sdeathfrom politicalviolencetothelet- tinggoofresentmentoverinfi- delity.Theprojectsfoundthatpeoplewhowere taughthowtoforgiveshowedstatisticallysignifi- cantimprovementinphysicalandemotionalwell- being.Withincouples,theprojectsdefinedfor- givenesspragmaticallyasmakingpeacewhenone partnerdidn'tgetwhatheorshewantedfromthe other,encompassinginjuriesasslightasrepeat- edlyleavingawindowopentothoseasgraveas causingachild'sdeath. ThefindingsoftheStanfordForgiveness Projectshavemorerecentlybeenorganizedby theauthorsintoatherapyapproachwithindivid-
ILLUSTRATIONBYSALLYWERNCOMpORT
WWW.PSYCHOTHERAPYNETWORKER.ORG
6
I
 
CASESTUDY
werescrewingthatbastardandthen lyingtomeaboutit,"hesaid. Donhadrecentlyquitmaritalthera- pywithanothertherapistbecause he'dfoundthefocusonthepastso unsettlingthathe'dleftsessionsfeel- ingworsethanever."Everytimethe therapistaskedmeorSaratobringup whatwasbotheringus,myblood wouldboil,"hesaid."Wegotsoangry ateachotherthatallwe'ddowas accuseeachotherofthesamethings. Itbecameastruggleformenottocall anattorneytodrawupdivorce papers."Hestillhadn'tgivenupon hismarriage,buthefeltthattimewas runningout.Inourfirstsession,he announced,"Ifwecan'tfixthisnow, there'llbenosavingthismarriage." Don'shurtwasobvious,aswasthe factthatSara'sconfessingtoDonhad beenherwayoftryingtoshedthebur- denofherguilt."I'dhopedthatmy comingcleanaftersomanyyearsof secrecywouldgiveusanewstart,"she said."InowwonderifIshouldhave toldDoninthefirstplace."Immersed inhistaleofgrievance,Donwas unabletoseeanythingaboutSara's affairbeyondhisownwounding. Meanwhile,Sarahadceasedtosee anyofthepositivequalitiesDoncon- tinuedtodemonstrateintheirmar- riage.Insteadofconsideringhiscon- tinuedinterestinasexuallifewithher asadesiretohealfromthemarital wound,shesawitasaprimitivemale powerplaytocollecthisdue.Sowhile hehadtroubleforgivingher,shehad troubleforgivinghisnotforgivingher. Asisoftenthecasewithwoundedpart- ners,hefearedthatforgivingher wouldmakehimevenmorevulnera- ble."IfIsoftenupandshehurtsme again,Idon'tthinkIcouldtakeit,"he said."AtleastwhenI'mangry,Ican't gettakenbysurprise."Saralamented tohim,"It'sbeensolongsinceyoulet yourguarddown,sinceyouconfided inme,sinceyouaskedformyadvice,I don'tknowifyou'recapableofitany- more."Forforgivenesstotakerootinacou- ple,bothpartiesneedtoacknowledge theirhurtandthenturntheiratten- tiontotheirpresentrelationshipand letgoofthepast.Alongtheway,they typicallyfindthatit'spossibletodis- likesomethingapartnerdid,grieve fortheexperience,andgetoverit. Justascoupleshavetheinherent capacityforangeranddespair,they havethecapacityforforgivenessand reconnection.Butfirst,bothhaveto relinquishblameandgrievefortheir wounds.Researchhasamplydemonstrated thatthehabitofangerregularly hijacksourabilitytothinkclearly. Becausetheirchronicangercaused themsomuchmentalandphysical tension,thefirstfewsessionswithDon andSarawerespentteachingthem stress-reductionexercisestorelax theirbodiesandrestorecalmerthink- ing.Sincethey'd"practiced"theirfeel- ingsofangersomuch,theirtherapist hadtomodel,teach,cajole,and encouragethemtofindwithinthem- selvestheirunderusedcapacityfor relatingtoeachotherwithkindness andgentleness.Theywentthrougha seriesof-guided-imageryexercises designedtocalmthemdownaswellas refocusfromnegativeinternalimages tomorepositiveones. Theinitialfocuswasonlearning thataccessingsubmergedfeelingsof gratitude,compassion,andlove- bothingeneralandtowardeach other-couldcomeasnaturallyas accessingblame,shame,andanger. Theirtherapistaskedthemtotryan experiment:"Youknowhowitfeelsto mistrusttheother.Let'sseewhatit feelsliketopracticegoodwill."In doingthis,theywerefirstreassured thattheycouldalwaysreturntotheir oldnegativeinteractions,whichthey alreadyknewhowtodoverywell. Aftersometimepracticingstress- reductionandbreathingexercises, DonandSarafeltlessautomaticemo- tionalreactivityandfoundthatthey couldlistenbettertoeachother.When SaratoldDonthathisangerkepther fromhavingsexualfeelingstoward him,hemanagedtolistenquietlywith- outexploding.Themerefactthathe couldstaystillandlistenhadtheeffect ofrelaxingSara,andshebegantolean closertohimwhenhespoke. Anotherinitialfocuswastodimin- ishmutualexpectationsofwhateach
62
PSYCHOTHERAPYNETWORKER
September/October2009
partner"owed"theother-whatwe call"unenforceablerules."People oftenreactbadlytonotgettingwhat theywant,escalatingtheirdesiresinto demands,andthenbecomingunable toforgiveotherpeoplefornotfulfill- ingthesedemands.DonandSara werepunishingeachotherfortheir unmethopes,whilebeingunwillingto realize,astheRollingStonesputit, "Youcan'talwaysgetwhatyouwant." Donhadeveryrighttobehurtand angryatSara'searlybetrayalintheir marriage,buthisoutrageandinability toforgiveherformorethantwo decadesstemmedfromhisbeliefthat herfidelitywashisentitlement.From thissenseofentitlement,hedrewthe "rule"thatitwasherobligationto makehimfeelstrongandmasculine. Sara'sunenforceablerulewasthat, asthestrongmaleprotector,Don mustalwaysloveherandkeepher safe,nomatterhowshebehavedor whatmistakesshemade.Naively thinkinghe'dsimplyappreciatethe honestyofherconfession,she'd expectedthattheslatewouldbe wipedclean.Asaresult,shewascom- pletelyunpreparedforhishurtand outrage.Sheneededhelptoseethat hishurtabouttheaffairdidn'tcancel outhisprotectivefeelingsforherand torealizethatherfierceprotectorwas vulnerable,imperfect,andsometimes selfish.Bottomline:hedidn'talways havetogiveherwhatshewantedfor hertolovehim.' Forweeks,DonandSaraworkedto putasidetheirrigidrulesforeach otheranddevelopmoreflexibleways ofthinkingabouttheirrelationship. Eventually,hedugbeneathhisfeeling thathehada
right
toherfidelityand reachedhisdeeperwishforherto lovehimgenuinely.Whenatlasthe expressedhisyearningforherlove withoutinsistinguponhismarital
rights,
hisvoicecracked."AllIever reallywantedwasforyoutoloveme," hesaid,bowinghishead.Sara'ssmile showedrealtendernessathiswilling- nesstoadmithisvulnerability. Forgivenesstherapistsareonthelook- outforthiskindofmomenttohelp thecoupleaskthemselves,"Wheredid thisfeelingcomefrom?Isitpossible togetbackthere?"~

Activity (9)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
1 thousand reads
ethio liked this
genuis liked this
ethio liked this
AbbyJean liked this
Sayed Mubashir liked this
apcyna00 liked this
anam4ria liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->