Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

she enjoys.
Ted’s boss has been treating him poorly. He has threatened laying him off. He has
gotten so moody and disciplines the children harshly. Tammy has decided enough is
enough. She is going to confront him tonight when he comes home from work.
Tom and Alice had a good relationship until their teen age son got involved in drugs.
Tom blames it on her for being to lenient with him when they first discovered he was
smoking. She says it is Tom’s fault for being so demanding that he drove away from
them. They fight about it all of the time.
Mike thinks his wife may be having an affair. She always seems so distant and is not
physically demonstrative as she used to be. He realizes that she has lots on her hands –
the kids, her mother’s failing health and her job, but it just doesn’t seem like she really
cares any more. He just doesn’t know how to deal with his doubts.
Jack has a negative perception of most things. It’s the way I was raised he says.
However, he often is quick to misjudge Ann’s comments as being nagging when they
actually are just her way of dealing with issues. She is a highly verbal person who talks
about everything. She says it is her way of dealing with issues. “Get it out in the open
and talk it through.” At times each gets upset that with their relationship.
Alice is the bill payer in the family. She keeps tight reigns on the money. She hopes to
save enough so that they can afford a new car. Alex really likes to spend on his “bad”
habits of smoking and at times stopping by the bar on his way home from work for a
drink. When their money is tight they each blame each other for either saving too much
or spending too much. It is getting to be harder not to fight over every issue that arises in
their lives.
Nan really loves Jim. She has always bent over backward to make him happy; however,
it’s getting harder. He is getting more demanding. He wants her to quite her job so he
doesn’t have to watch the kids in the evening. She really likes her job and it brings in the
extra cash to buy the extras for the kids and herself.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Planning for Success, Session 4 38 2004
SESSION PREPARATION: To prepare to teach the session, make copies of ”I”
Statement Summary, Handout 1, and Speaker–Listener Technique, Handout 2, and
Goal Analysis, Handout 3. Review the PowerPoint slides, and session outline.
Participants will:
1 Identify typical behaviors that
escalate anger in a relationship.
1 Demonstrate the appropriate use
of negotiation skills.
1 Set goals for the relationship.
1 List strategies that increase the
quality and commitment within
the relationship.
1 Anger in relationships is fueled
by specific negative behaviors.
1 Recognizing negative
behaviors within one’s
relationship assists in
developing more positive
coping strategies.
1 Using negotiation to address
issues of anger is a positive
strategy that does not damage
the relationship.
1 Setting goals as a couple will
increase the success of the
1 Using positive actions will
increase the quality and success
of the relationship.
Connecting Families:
Planning for Success
Session 4
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Planning for Success, Session 4 39 2004
Planning for Success
Connecting Families
Session 4
1. Ask participants to introduce themselves. Briefly
review group member’s success in using the
speaker–listener technique in the past week.
Answer any questions that are asked. Ask group
members to list one action or aspect of
relationships that is critical to building a strong
lasting one. Encourage group members to add to
the list when possible. Strong relationships are
built upon providing a caring, safe haven that
nurtures the individual and couple.
Ask the group to think about their own relationship and compare it to the list.
Recognizing how well a relationship is doing is important. If one focuses only upon
“what is wrong” then it takes over the relationship and much of what is “right” is lost, or
Creating Strong Relationships
¡ Be Positive
¡ Show Empathy
¡ Be Committed
¡ Demonstrate acceptance, love, respect
¡ Practice forgiveness
¡ Manage conflict, anger and negotiate
rather than fight
2. Strong relationships usually have the qualities
outlined on Slide 2. Review the list. Most
individuals in our culture would list these
qualities. We learn to expect these qualities in a
relationship and judge it based upon them.
However, the one that is most typically the
hardest to live is forgiveness. Yet without it a
relationship is doomed to either fail or be lived in
Forgiveness is the act of deciding to give up your perception or actual right to get even
with or hold in debt some one who you believe has wronged you. With this decision one
gives up the resentment against or desire to punish the other individual. Giving up the
resentment is the first step in canceling the debt they owe you. Forgiveness is not easy.
Yet living without it can destroy the individual and relationship. When we still feel pain,
we have not really forgiven. However, forgiveness and responsibility go hand and hand.
The responsibility that forgiveness requires is to accept any blame one may have and to
rebuild trust. Trust will take time to grow, but it will flourish when each individual
exercises their responsibility to the relationship.
Anger – Beyond Conflict
¡ Anger occurs when individuals
become irritated and escalate their
negative feelings
¡ Escalation occurs when partners
respond negatively to each other
¡ Escalating arguments create
dangerous situations where words
can be said that are never forgotten
3. Use Slide 3 to review how anger can become an
element that destroys relationships. Anger is a
natural aspect of close relationships. However,
anger needs to be recognized and controlled. Ask
group members to think of something that makes
them angry. Ask for examples from the group and
use them to illustrate the cycle of escalating anger.
Talk about how once we are aware of something
that makes us angry how we can quickly escalate
our feelings of irritation. Once our “trigger is
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Planning for Success, Session 4 40 2004
tripped” we can easily become extremely annoyed. The intensity of our feelings
increases with each incident. In relationships where individuals do not address anger,
each individual develops a set of irritants that quickly sets in place the chain of anger
Short- Circuiting Escalation
¡ Don’t mind read
l Unexpressed thoughts fuel own anger
l Breeds negative interpretation
l Creates anger in partner
l Anger produces naming and blaming
increasing the cycle of anger
¡ Speak for yourself