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  • Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love



    Relationship Saboteurs - Book Review
    California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
    Reviewed by Mary Ewell

    The word neurotic is not used for the first 200 pages in this incisive self-help book, which throws profuse light on the ways that people stay stuck or don’t learn from one failed relationship to the next. It is ostensibly addressed to the average layman/woman, yet it has a rich and full toolbox of interventions for the therapist to use as agents of change.

    Subtitled “overcoming the 10 behaviors that undermine love,” Dr. Gunther lays the groundwork for the likely causes for relationship sabotage and sets the stage for cognitive restructuring. Each of the chapters focuses on a particular self-defeating pattern (saboteur) that the reader can identify via family maxims or beliefs that ring true by the emotional response that is elicited. The relationship saboteurs are: insecurity/ anxiety, needing to control/win at all costs, demanding center stage, fear of intimacy, pervasive pessimism, addictions, compulsive defensiveness, martyrdom, and trust breaking. These comprise the major issues that a therapist deals with below the level of the DSM designation.

    What is fresh about this book is that it doesn’t just advocate to “think change,” it structures the change process through the “Seven steps of recovery” that walks the reader through activities that reinforce the motivation to stay the course. The process is realistic, in that to alter deeply rooted habits takes discipline and patience, yet it conveys hope that change is possible with focus and commitment to new/alternate behaviors. The maladaptive behaviors are a learned response, so the behaviors can be unlearned/revised. In providing a seven-step change process, there is an accumulative learning experience. A coaching/guiding kindness to oneself is conveyed that offers self-scoring tests to gauge progress. Along with self-monitoring strategies, the reader is incited to have at least one “witness” with whom he/she is accountable for him/her to resolve to reverse her pattern. A witness is someone chosen for his/her objectivity and willingness to hold him/her to the goal he/ she specified. A therapist may be selected for this role.

    Relationship Saboteurs augments and penetrates some of the current research (John Gottman, Harville Hendrix, and some of the Solution Focused authors for creating possible outcomes) with a deeper level of inquiry. The author does best what a good therapist learns, to skillfully and sensitively ask the best questions to evoke change, involve the client in self-expression, and provide a feedback loop. It is as if Randi Gunther were a tailor who knew how to cut along the bias to create a very different effect. Having attended Randi Gunther’s earlier workshops and been influenced by her as a mentor, I am grateful to experience in these chapters the benefit of her wisdom from a lifetime of successful private practice.

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    The publisher's description of the book:

    Do you seek a healthy romantic relationship, but continue to find yourself repeating the same negative behaviors that may have ended your relationships in the past? Have you already identified destructive patterns, yet continue to repeat them despite your desire for a strong and lasting romantic relationship? If so, you are not alone.

    Relationship Saboteurs is an easy-to-follow guide that will help you identify and end your relationship-destroying tendencies once and for all. The book explores the ten most common relationship-undermining behaviors and shows you how to overcome them. By understanding and addressing the patterns that erode romance, you can learn to stop sabotaging your love life and prepare yourself for the healthy romantic relationship you deserve.
    • Insecurity
    • Needing to control
    • Fear of intimacy
    • Needing to win
    • Pessimism
    • Needing to be center stage
    • Addictions
    • Martyrdom
    • Defensiveness
    • Breaking trust
    Relationship Saboteurs : Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love
    From the book's introduction:

    Most people would think of relationship saboteurs as devious people who try to gain personal advantage at their partners’ expense, practicing obviously destructive behaviors that would endanger any relationship.

    This book is not about those intentional saboteurs or the pain they cause. It is about well-meaning people who, often unknowingly, practice certain subtle behaviors that undermine relationships over time.

    New partners often not only accept these behaviors but also may actually be attracted by them. Yet slowly, and sometimes invisibly, these sabotaging behaviors become more intolerable. Eventually the partners of saboteurs leave the relationship, often citing reasons that have little to do with what has actually caused the relationship to end. They, themselves, do not realize that they have become allergic to a behavior that once was more acceptable.

    Much of the time, relationship saboteurs are left confused, not knowing what they have done to cause their partners to pull away. Because the saboteurs don’t understand what has happened, they are likely to repeat the same undermining behaviors upon entering a new relationship.

    Most sabotaging behaviors are learned in childhood and reinforced by repetition. Traumatic events can be suffered throughout life, but early experiences more potently influence our subsequent relationships. People may also inherit personality characteristics and a biochemistry that make them more susceptible to holding on to negative childhood teachings. The ultimate combination of modeling, innate characteristics, and personal experience all determine whether an adult will become a relationship saboteur.

    As you begin to learn more about these sabotaging behaviors, you may find them easier to recognize in your partner than in yourself. Many people do. It can be humbling to discover that you may be the one who needs to change. But if you have the courage to see what you do to sabotage your relationships, you will gain the power to transform your behavior. Every relationship you are part of, now or in the future, will benefit from what you have learned.

    Relationship Saboteurs : Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love started by Daniel View original post