|Virginia Satir's Four Styles of Communication
If you are the computer, you are very correct, very reasonable, with no semblance of any feeling showing. You are calm,
cool, and collected. You could be compared to an actual computer or dictionary. A computer uses the longest words
possible, even if you aren't sure of the meanings. You will at least SOUND intelligent. After one paragraph, no one will
be listening anyway. Keep everything about yourself as motionless as possible, including your mouth. When you are
computing, your voice will naturally go dead because you have no feeling from the cranium down. You are kept busy
choosing the right words. After all, you should never make a mistake! The sad part of this role is that it seems to
represent an ideal goal for many people. "Say the right words, show no feeling; don't react."
The blamer is a fault-finder, a dictator, a boss. If you are a blamer, you act superior and seem to be saying: "If it
weren't for you, everything would be all right." Good blaming requires you to be as loud as tyrannical as you can. Cut
everything and everyone down. Start your sentences with "You never do this or you always do that or why do you
always or why do you never . . . ?" and so on. Think of yourself standing with one hand on your hip and the other arm
extended with your index finger pointed straight out. Your face is screwed up, your lips curled, your nostrils flared as
you yell, call names, and criticize everything under the sun. You don't really feel you are worth anything, either. So
if you can get someone to obey you, then you feel you count for something.
The placater always talks in an ingratiating way, trying to please, apologizing, never disagreeing, no matter what. If
you are a placater, you are a "yes man." You talk as though you could do nothing for yourself; you must always get
someone to approve of you. You owe everybody gratitude, and you really are responsible for everything that goes
wrong. Naturally you will agree with any criticism made about you. You are, of course, grateful for the fact that anyone
actually talks to you, no matter what they say or how they say it. Be the most syrupy, martyrish, bootlicking person
you can be. Think of yourself as being physically down on one knee, wobbling a bit, putting one hand out in a
begging fashion, and be sure to have your head up so your neck will hurt and your eyes will become strained so in
no time you begin to get a headache. You will be saying "yes" to everything, no matter what you feel or think.
Whatever the distractor does or says is irrelevant to what anyone else is saying or doing. When you play the
distracting role, it will help if you think of yourself as a kind of lopsided top, constantly spinning, but never knowing where you are
going, and not realizing it until you get there. Make sure that you are never on the point with your words. Ignore everyone's
questions; maybe come back with one of your own on a different subject. Take a piece of imaginary lint off someone's garment,
untie shoelaces, and so on. At first this role seems like a relief, but after a few minutes of play, the terrible loneliness and
purposefulness arise. If you can keep yourself moving fast enough, you won't notice it so much . . .
|The Four Most Toxic Syndromes in a Marriage
Either partner is frequently using alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, or other mood-altering chemical. If either you or your
partner are emotionally dependent upon alcohol or drugs, then the foundation of your relationship is on emotional
quicksand. Whatever progress you think you are making as a couple today will tend to unravel in the future. The
reason is that addiction or even psychological dependence on a substance will alter a person's capacity for certain
feeling states that are essential for maintaining a healthy relationship. Feelings, like empathy, curiosity, spiritual
appreciation, and deference will usually become numbed. Other more stimulating motivations like pride, dominance,
and hyper-reaction will tend to be overemphasized instead.
THIRD PARTY CONTAMINATION:
Either partner is keeping contact with another person with whom they have previously had a sexual/
emotional bond. If your partner is having an on-going affair with another party, it is extremely unlikely
that any progress can be made in traditional marital counseling, because he/she will be too emotionally
unavailable. If your partner has never exhibited deceptive behavior prior to the affair, then
restoration of the relationship may be possible. However, if deceptive behavior has preceded the
affair, then prognosis is grim. Even if there has been no history of prior deception, do not assume
that cessation of the affair and the passage of time will together heal the relationship. Trust is not
usually restored by the mere passage of time. Under the best of circumstances, a lot of hard work is
usually necessary to create a new level of intimacy and understanding.
THREAT OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE:
Either partner has demonstrated through their past behavior or by verbal threat that they may
physically assault or restrict movement of the other. Although there are a number of factors that
may contribute to physical violence in a relationship, there is no excusing it. If you are the target of
physical violence in the relationship, you need to find a way to avoid it. This may require leaving the
relationship altogether. If there are children who are also bearing the brunt of the physical abuse,
then it is doubly important to take decisive action. Do not underestimate the potential degree of
psychological damage that can be done to yourself or your children. The problem and responsibility
for stopping the violence lies with the perpetrator. If you are the target, get protection for yourself
(and your children).
Either party intentionally tries to lie or deceive the other in order to avoid exposing broken
agreements or irresponsible behavior. If you are in a relationship with someone who periodically
lies for their own convenience, you have a very serious problem with the basic foundation of your
relationship. Good relationships have truth as one of the highest priorities. Without truth there is a
lack of trust. With a lack of trust, you usually wind up living in fear and shame (or the alternative of
resentment and anger).
LESS TOXIC SYNDROMES
Both parties have evolved to interact with each other like business managers, going about
the business of managing everyday life but without mutual play or sentimental affirmation
of each other. Special time is not allocated for intimate talking. No significant effort is made
to share intimate time away from parenting roles. Each party feels "taken for granted."
Arguments flare up about small control issues or events that are interpreted as indicating a
lack of appreciation of each other.
One party is more comfortable with the expression of intense feelings. The other party dreads
intensity, especially heated conflict. The person who dreads intensity finds ways to emotionally
withdraw by finding responsibilities that take up their time. The other person sees the partner
withdrawing and reacts by aggressively pursuing contact. They often intrude by expressing
their resentments in a derogatory manner. The pursuer/intruder may also openly interpret the
withdrawing party's feelings and motives. The withdrawing party reacts by withdrawing further.
The pursuer feels like they are being driven crazy!!
One party (the initiator) has somehow wound up with all the responsibility for planning the fun
part of the relationship. The dependent party may be very responsible in their job role.
However, when it comes to family or relationship activity, they look to the initiator for ideas.
The dependent party is easy and ready to agree. The initiator feels as if they have another child
for a partner. They miss the excitement of another perspective besides their own and they feel lonely
although they may cover it over with anger.
Delinquent Helper Syndrome:
One party (the "task-master") has somehow wound up with all of the responsibility for overseeing
the household chores. The other party often doesn't help at all. The task-master frequently reminds
the delinquent helper what needs to be done. The delinquent helper often forgets if they are not
The couple starts a conflict over a specific issue but soon escalates to general blaming behavior. Past
misdeeds are raised up in an attempt to invalidate the other. Nothing gets accomplished and the
couple retreats from one another with much hostility. The syndrome does not refer to conflict which
threatens violence or becomes violent.
Sneaky Spending Behavior:
One party is trying to live within a realistic budget, but the other part is often unmindful of what
they spend. The less mindful person may not be forthcoming about what they buy.