Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program


when the relationship is having trouble
one or both individuals experience
feelings of being overwhelmed by the
negative aspects of the relationship.
The flooding stage sets the relationship up for the couple to begin to focus on the
negative aspects of the relationship. No longer is there bliss, but everything that is wrong
with the other individual and the relationship move into the spot light. In the third stage,
the couple so focuses upon the negative that they cannot remember the “good times” and
what was positive even begins to be cast in a negative perspective. “He was always
…….” Lastly, emotional distancing occurs in which the individual is non responsive to
the others emotional and psychological needs. The relationship is dead because one of
the partners has “checked out” and is no longer engaged. Often it is the woman who
moves through this process without her husband knowing it. There are some marriages
that maintain a relationship with emotional distancing throughout a life time. They live
together but are not intimate or engaged. Introduce the Emotional Bank Account activity
to illustrate the concepts.
Emotional Bank Account Activity
Using the Emotional Bank Account activity Handout 1, ask group participants to
complete the activity. After the group has completed filling out the handout sheet, talk
about the following:
· Were there surprises on your list? Did you have an overall positive or
negative perception of your partner?
· What did you learn about your relationship from this activity?
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 20 2004
Relationships are like a bank account. If we have more negative perceptions of our
partner (withdrawals) than positive ones (deposits), we are in bad shape.
Remind the group that the stages of distancing all focus on negative aspects of a
relationship and negative perceptions of our partner. Looking for and recognizing the
positive aspects that a relationship has, greatly influences its overall health and survival.
“I” vs. “You” Statements
“I” Statements
¡ Shows respect
¡ Tells how you feel
¡ Tells what you
want to happen
“You” Statements
¡ Doesn’t show respect
¡ Blames, causes hurt,
and anger
¡ Accuses, ridicules,
6. Some couples thrive in an environment in
which the individuals are focused upon the
negative and are unable to express openly
the issues that they believe need addressed.
When issues remain buried, complaining
becomes more prevalent. Call it what you
like, complaining, nagging or picking.
Being able to positively “gripe” is an
important relationship building skill.
However, the first step is to recognize the
importance of using “I” rather than “you”
statements. Use Slide 6 to explain how “I”
and “You” statements are different.
“I” Statements
Begin using “I” rather than “you”
1. When you __________________
2. I feel ______________________
3. Because ___________________
4. I would like ________________
7. Using Background Information 1, “I”
Statement Summary, and Slide 7, review
the steps to using “I” statements. Illustrate
using several examples.
One Minute Gripe
Use “I” statements
1. When you do ________________
2. In situation _________________
3. I feel ______________________
8. Use Slide 8 to teach the One Minute Gripe

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Veronica S. Haggerty


"A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best things that can happen to you. However, it can also be one of the biggest drains on you if the relationship is not working. Relationships are like bank accounts. The more you put in, the more you get back. Falling in love is the easy part, but long term relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or begin to today to work on repairing trust and renewing love for a relationship on the rocks".

Location: New Hope, PA
Credentials: MA, MFT, RN
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