the following is my analysis of Dr McGraw's book, I am pretty sure he
won't mind me promoting his book as although there following is a reasonable
summary, you really need to read his book to fully understand what he is
getting at, and if you haven't read it, and this makes sense to you &
you overcome any misconceptions of the good doctor, then I'm sure you will
want to check it out.
there is only one thing worse than a relationship in trouble, and that is
a relationship in trouble and you are in denial.
if you are to successfully rescue your relationship & reconnect with
your partner, you have to get real about you, that means 100%, drop-dead,
no-kidding real - no defensiveness, no denial - total honesty with yourself.
the vehicle to achieving rescue of your relationship is you, not you and
your partner, you.
reconnecting with your partner will not happen if you do not reconnect
with yourself first.
you can change your partner from daylight to dark, you can dump your
partner and trade up to a better one, but it wont make a damn difference
unless and until you decide to clean house inside yourself first.
this journey does not begin with you and your partner, it begins with you.
you have to take your power back and become the kind of person who
commands quality, inspires respect, and settles for nothing less than an
active and abiding love.
that change begins from the inside out as you get back in touch with who
you are & as you decide what to do with your love, your life, your
vision. Your clarity and your purpose must become crystal clear. The fix,
the rescue depends on you. To proceed with any other mindset is to guarantee
failure, miserable failure.
if your relationship is in trouble, you have lost touch with your own
personal power, your own dignity, your own standards, and self-esteem.
You've allowed yourself to accommodate pain & disappointment and
self-destructive attitudes. You have rationalised away many of your hopes
& dreams and settled for so many things you didn't want. You've allowed
apathy to set in, and along the way you've probably allowed your partner to
mistreat you over the years. But most important, you have mistreated
yourself. You've blamed your partner or other circumstances for your place
in life rather than making the effort to find the true answers within you.
You've lost touch with the core of your consciousness - that place where you
are absolutely defined, the place within you where your greatest strengths,
instincts, values, talents & wisdom are centred.
you must reclaim your own power & strength - not the kind of power to
make you more domineering over your partner, it will not give you more
control over your partner, nor will it let you win more arguments. It is the
power to give & to uplift those around you. The power to inspire, create
and to experience life and your relationship at a totally different level.
It is the quiet, calm power of dignity and worth.
we are never taught how to manage our relationships, the following
attempts to show you how to, even though you feel lost in a maze and
confused, this will help you find a route back to who you are and how to fix
your relationship rather than just cosmetically conceal the deep destructive
roots that are threatening it.
there are no victims here, the relationship is in trouble because you
set it up that way. It is not possible to have a seriously defective long
term relationship unless you have generated and adopted a lifestyle to
sustain it. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with another person,
it's because you have a dysfunctional relationship with yourself. You can't
control your partner, you can't tell them what to do, but you can inspire
them. You can give your partner a whole new set of behaviours and new set of
stimuli to respond to. If you drop out of the destructive mind-set &
vicious circle of mutually frustrating interactions that are causing your
relationship to implode, if you drop out of the fight & start living a
new way, it's going to be real difficult for your partner to continue
spewing & seeking venom. It's time to stop sabotaging yourself &
your relationship. What have you got to lose? What you are doing now isn't
working! It's time to become the best of who you are and to stop hurting
& start changing your life. When you choose a behaviour, you choose the
consequences. Choose wisely.
It is all up to you to make the effort to fix yourself first, then
you need to find out what you personally have done, both positively &
negatively, to put your relationship in the position its now in.
how have you contributed to it, how have you contaminated it?
you cannot make the correct plan for your change unless you are correct in
acknowledging the problems
if you are married but living in "emotional divorce", admit it.
if the relationship is killing you and your self-worth & value, admit
is the problem that one of you dumps on the other for frustrations about
life that have nothing to do with the relationship?
have the two of you been parents for so long that you've forgotten what it
means to be friends and lovers?
have you forgotten how to pay attention to one another?
do you no longer have sex?
what's happened to intimacy?
are you cold & distant with your partner because of something that
happened 10 yrs ago?
are you a double-income family with no time for each other?
is there tension because of a past affair on the part of one partner?
check the book for detailed self-questionnaires to create a relationship
and personal profile.
5 tough questions:
considering that at least one definition of love is that the security
& well-being of your partner is as significant to you as your own
security and well-being, then, what would you say that based on the
results, you behave in a way that reflects that you are in love with
your partner? why?
using the same definition, is your partner in love with you? why?
knowing what you do now about your relationship, would you still get
involved with the same person if you had to do it all over again? why?
when comparing yourself to other people in relationships, do you feel
that you have been cheated or have settled too cheap? why?
if you could break off your relationship or get a divorce right now
without any inconvenience, legal costs, or embarassment, and without any
undue hardship on your children, would you do it? why?
"a great relationship depends on a great meeting of the
total empathy is rubbish, you are never going to see things through
your partner's eyes because you are genetically, physiologically,
psychologically & historically different.
men are going to be men, and women are going to be women, and no
therapist can change that. Being different is OK!
"a great relationship demands a great romance":
your life should have plenty of romance but to expect unrealistic
Hollywood romance is irrelevant to being in love.
being in love is not the same as falling in love, and it is folly to
expect the emotions of falling in love to last
"a great relationship requires great problem solving":
most conflicts or problems in a relationship cannot be solved,
but are resolved by both parties agreeing to disagree.
you don't need to learn special problem solving skills or learn
to have a relationship is to have conflict and confrontation but this
does not mean one has to give in to the other, many problems are too
complex to solve and generations have failed to solve them such as the
differences between husband and wife on the nuances of raising children.
There is no point wasting energy thinking you can solve such problems,
but better to agree to disagree.
"a great relationship requires common interests that bond you
it is not so much the compatibilities that are important, but how each
deals with the incompatibilities.
it's not what you do, it's how you do it.
playing tennis together is not such a good idea if it creates
"a great relationship is a peaceful one":
arguing in a relationship is neither good nor bad. If arguing is done
with some very simple rules of engagement , it can actually help the
quality of a relationship. It can allow a certain peace & trust that
one can release their thoughts & feelings without being anandoned or
rejected or humiliated. Suppression of conflict and denial is far worse.
how often you argue is not the issue, but how you deal with the
even if the problem is not solved you must get emotional closure -
get your heart & mind in balance again, as well as your
if you abandon the argument to attack the person, this is
if you get into arguments because they are more stimulating than
the day-to-day life of being together, then this is destructive
if you never achieve emotional closure at the end of the argument
& bottle them up only to come out later by cumulative reaction,
then this is destructive
you must learn how to let your partner off the hook rather than
brow-beating them into submission
you must learn how to escape with your own ego & feelings
intact if you are the one that is wrong, or are the object of
dogmatic brow-beating by your partner
"a great relationship lets you vent all your feelings":
totally uncensored venting of your feelings usually causes harm
there are many reasons why not all feelings should be vented including
- we may not really know what it is we are feeling or why at that time
and if vented, later we are likely to realise the damage a little
venting of rage at our partner can do, even if it was not meant or was
"a great relationship has nothing to do with sex":
don't believe it for a minute!
sex provides an important time-out from stresses & adds to the
quality of closeness that is extremely important.
sex is a needed exercise in vulnerability wherein you allow your
partner to get close.
for many, it is the one thing that distinguishes their relationship as
different from their other relationships
if you have a good sexual relationship, sex only registers about 10%
on the "importance scale", but if you don't, then it registers
"a great relationship cannot survive a flawed partner":
there is a wide range of what is "normal", and even people
who are a little bit crazy can be great partners.
in addition to avoiding rigidity about your own thoughts, feelings or
behaviours, do not be rigid & judgmental about your partner's
thoughts, feelings & behaviours.
"your relationship can only become great when you get your partner
many still believe the childlike notion that you don't have to take
too much responsibility for finding your own happiness. They still
believe fairy tale that falling in love means finding someone who is
going to make them live happily ever after. When that fairy tale turns
out to be untrue, they want to point the finger, to blame, to believe
that all the unpleasant experiences are the fault of their partner.
the most important person for you to influence is you. You are the
most important person in the relationship.
you cannot reconnect with your partner if you are not reconnectable.
you are responsible for your happiness and are jointly responsible for
believing in myths is not the only way to poison your relationship, there
is an even more insidious technique you use to harm the very thing that's
most important to you. That's when you approach your relationship with your
everyone of us has as an irrational and destructive emotional side to our
personalities. There is a part of us that is immature, selfish, controlling
& power seeking which will sabotage your attempts at intimacy and peace.
these characteristics you may find so distasteful that you cannot face
them & thus use a stockpile of denials to justify & explain away
your terrible behaviour. You like to think you act mature, giving, flexible
& democratic, but your bad spirit is always there, always lurking, and
when things get tough and you get frustrated, threatened or hurt, you give
in to your dark side. If you allow this ugly side to take control, this can
cause your relationship to fail, not just some of the time, but all of the
regardless of what else is right with the relationship, your bad spirit,
if left unattended, will poison every fiber of your relationship & seal
sure, you can reassure yourself that you are not one of those crazy,
yelling abusers, but less dramatic manifestations of bad spirit can be just
no one can change what happened to you as a child that may have influenced
the development of your behaviour patterns as an adult, but it' important to
realise you are not a child any more, and you have the chance to choose what
you think, feel and do. The only thing worse than having terrible things
happen to you in one phase of your life, is mentally & emotionally
carrying those terrible events and feelings into the next phase of your
life. If you hide behind these events as an excuse to justify your dark
side, you'll just keep the suffering alive by transplanting into your
you must be willing to meet your bad spirit face-to-face, recognise how it
manifests itself in your behaviour, and then quickly get yourself out of
that mind-set before it does even greater damage.
you will never analyse your bad spirit away, you need to be ready to knock
it back before it starts to consume you. Don't let yourself be ambushed by
this stalking bad spirit, learn to know it intimately and then you give
yourself power to change your life, relationship and your happiness.
examples of bad spirits:
you're a score keeper:
competition in a relationship can be fun but true intimacy and
caring is not a game.
if you allow your life with your partner to be guided by a
tit-for-tat trading of favours and duties, an "I'll do it for
you if you'll do it for me" score keeping, you are in danger of
turning what should be a mutually cooperative & supportive
relationship into a fight for leverage & the upper hand.
takers keep score to justify the taking and their own selfishness.
Such competition means that you must have an adversary, an enemy.
That is not love. Doing duties to build up brownie points is not an
act of kindness.
it never occurs to either person that with genuine caring and
giving, their partner would probably volunteer more than could ever
be demanded of them.
you're a fault finder:
there is nothing wrong with legitimate criticism or input in a
relationship, as long as it is designed to improve the relationship.
constructive criticism too often gives way to constant fault
finding - obsessing about the flaws and imperfections rather than
finding value in your partner.
to do this is taking some type of sick pleasure in studying
someone else's negative inventory, you get used to making
criticisms, and once you start it's hard to stop.
if your partner had 10 things to do, and he did 8 to perfection.
You would spend 90% of your time talking about the 2 things that did
not get done.
instead of commenting on how nice your partner looks today, you
comment on a minor imperfection.
you are obsessively interested in getting your partner to admit
wrong-doing rather than listen to what your partner has to say.
you counter-attack with criticism whenever you're being criticised
yourself, instead of hearing the message.
you blame your partner for not getting what you deserve in life.
you use "always" and "never" in your
criticisms which are judgemental and argumentative. Such absolutes
are not justified.
you expect your partner to read your mind.."you should have
you seldom let an infraction slide by regardless of how trivial.
living with you is like trying to fill a bottomless pit & your
partner will become sick to death of you.
you must get rid of this anal-retentive behaviour.
you think it's your way or the highway:
self-righteous, and unyieldingly rigid behaviour indicates you are
obsessed with control
everything has to be your idea, done your way. You must always
have the last word.
you refuse to recognise or acknowledge contributions by your
partner & feel justified in everything you do.
your objective is not just to dominate, to manage your partner
with condescension and intimidation, but to stake out the moral high
you artificially inflate your ego so that you can delude yourself
& your partner into believing you are superior to everyone else.
you cannot serve 2 masters - you cannot act with
self-righteousness & overbearing control, and at the same time
believe you are pursuing what is best for the relationship. The
relationship will suffer and you will fail to take ownership of
you will let the relationship go down in flames rather than be
honest about your own shortcomings.
you turn into an attack dog:
in discussing an issue you are triggered into a personal attack
rather than addressing the issue.
in a blink of an eye, you can become vicious, and the interaction
becomes open warfare, with even the issue at hand forgotten.
the message is clear, "I want to hurt you"
sometimes the viciousness is blatant and easily recognisable, but
sometimes it comes out in more subtle ways by knowing what
buttons to push, which accusations will cut the deepest, even
without raising your voice, or even without that "killer
the scars from these interchanges will remain for the rest of your
partner's life whether you realise it or not!
you are a passive warmonger:
passive aggression is just as destructive
you work long and hard to obstruct those things you do not desire,
yet do so in such an indirect way as to escape accountability if
confronted, always having an excuse or justification. It's so hard
to prove this behaviour.
you conveniently forget to do what you promised, or you
purposefully screw up what you want your partner to think you are
earnestly attempting to do.
rather than outwardly reject what's been offered, you just don't
comply, you complain about it in subtle, whiny ways.
you don't want resolution with certain issues, and you seem to
thrive on playing the role of the victim, valuing that role far more
than the peace and harmony that your partner might be seeking to
you resort to smoke and mirrors:
relationships ruled by dishonesty are contaminated by hiding the
real agenda & instead substitute superficial but safe topics to
talk or ague about.
you criticise your partner about one thing when you're really
upset about another.
you become defensive if your partner asks if anything is bothering
you or if a real topic is brought up.
the result is emotional confusion.
you will not forgive:
when you choose to bear anger at your partner, you build a wall
you become trapped in an emotional complex of such pain &
agony that negative energy begins to dominate your life.
your resentment can become so pervasive as to crowd out every
other feeling out of your heart.
worse, these feelings do not remain specific to to root of your
anger but change everything about you and how you react to the world
and everyone else.
in the end it is only you and your relationships which suffers and
not necessarily the person you will not forgive, who often are
totally unaware or don't care that you don't forgive them.
you are a bottomless pit:
most of us are insecure, but out of control, this makes you too
needy, for you there is never enough of anything, you are never
satisfied, you can never be loved enough, you can never be attended
to or appreciated enough.
your partner becomes frustrated in never being able to feel able
to "fill you up".
your relationship can never be fully functioning and peaceful and
you end up sabotaging it, often with fatalistic ideas such as
"this must be the calm before the storm", "this can't
last, it's too good"
these people often think they are being meek & accommodating,
that they are doing there best to fit in and not rock the boat, but
by having an insatiable appetite for reassurance and stroking, you
can never give your partner any rest & you may be consumed by a
deadly jealousy over your partner and you will demand of your
partner that he/she renounce any other people in favor of you.
sometimes you'll subconsciously drive your partner away just to
get another dose of reassurance when one more time your partner
proves their desire to hang in there.
manipulative & demanding behaviour to keep your partner
dancing forever, trying to find a way for you to be at peace.
whilst it's perfectly healthy to want reassurance from our
partners, there is a point when it becomes toxic, when you
constantly hunger for that fix of reassurance.
you're too comfortable:
you become so passive that you get nestled in your "comfort
zone", playing it safe, not challenging yourself, not striving
for excellence, you become inert, boring and before you know it,
your relationship is over.
you have been just skimming the surface of your relationship, a
life of half-communication or non-sexuality with your partner.
you never talk about where your relationship is going, what your
deepest desires are, what you dream about, what gives you
you get into a rut, watching too much TV instead of living.
you lose your will-power to do things, your first reaction to any
of your partner's suggestions is "no"
you've given up:
a state of mind in which you believe that you are in a intractably
it's what happens when too many bad spirits have crowded into your
life that you cannot imagine there being any possible way out.
you become forlorn and lonely, so emotionally isolated &
disconnected, so negative & cynical, so far from your core of
consciousness, that you completely shut down that part of your brain
that tells you there is any hope whatsoever.
you have basically decided you have no core of consciousness