What is R.E.B.T. and how can it be key to saving your marriage?
Can you recall this movie scene between Brooke and Gary in The Break Up?
Brooke: "What are these?" (holding up a bag of lemons)
Gary: "You asked for lemons… what my baby wants my baby gets."
Brooke: "There are 3 lemons. I asked for 12. Baby wanted 12."
At this point Gary and Brooke are already in a downward spiral. Repeated interactions like these get amplified, eventually leading to their big "break up." What do you notice within this interaction? At what point did it go astray and why? The Pause That Saves A Relationship
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) was developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. The thought behind REBT actually dates back over 2,000 years when Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher stated, "People are not disturbed by things but by the view which they take of them." REBT is based upon the idea that we feel the way we think, thus if we can change the way we think about events in our life, we can also change the way we feel. REBT can be particularly helpful in strengthening relationships. It is a fairly simple concept that contains the letters A-B-C-D. Here is how it works:
1st: A—Adversity or some type of event that can occur in the past, present or future
2nd: B—Belief about this event—it can be dysfunctional or functional; rigid or flexible
3rd: C—Consequence, the emotional and behavioral consequences (this is a result of both the adversity AND the belief about that adversity)
4th: D—Dispute (if our original belief was dysfunctional) – At this point we recognize that our thoughts or beliefs may be dysfunctional and we dispute our original belief about the event that was negative. The 'Think Positive!' Experiment
Ideally, we do not want to have to go all the way to D. The best situation would allow for us to develop a healthy B or belief about a situation that occurs. It is ideal to create a belief about a situation that is positive and helpful in nature, although this is not always the case! If our initial belief is not healthy, we should stop and dispute our unhealthy belief about the event.
In the example of The Break Up, what could Brooke have done differently? Here is how Brooke's dysfunctional belief occurred, and here is how she could have disputed it:
Adversity—Brooke received 3 lemons rather than the 12 that she needed for her dinner party.
Belief—Brooke believes that Gary is "worthless." He's not helpful and does not listen to her needs. Gary does not seem to really care about me as a human being because he did not bring me 12 lemons. Fighting Over The Little Things
Consequence—Brooke and Gary get into a fight about the lemons. They continue to have fights about small annoyances that occur.
Dispute—Brooke realizes that her initial belief was not a healthy one and disputes it. Gary did take his time to go to the store and purchase the lemons. His heart was in the right place. This is a minor error that he made and not the end of the world. It was simply a misunderstanding. Gary had a long day at work and still made the effort to stop at the store for lemons.
It is often the small annoyance that can turn into big, blow up fights. One person may feel like his or her needs are not being met when these adversities occur. No human being is perfect all the time! By changing our beliefs about situations that occur, we can start having a more positive, healthy relationship. Next time your spouse buys the wrong kind of milk at the store, remember to use the REBT method!