ďMessed upĒ or severely conflicted relationships are among the most common difficulties confronting everyone in his day-to-day life.† Teenagers may find it difficult or impossible to get along with their parents.† Husbands and wives may find that they are always fighting, or even worse they may find that they have nothing to say to each other.† Parents may gradually discover or be bowled over by the realization that they can no longer communicate with their children.† Friends may drift apart and lose that special feeling for each other, although they may still continue to see each other almost every day.† Neighbors may fight, co-workers may not speak to one another, and everyone is uptight.† Interpersonal conflict and tension are problems for all of us in varying degreesómaybe only a little bit once in a while or maybe a lot all of the time, perhaps with only one or two people or perhaps with most people.† However often and with however many people, our relationships get messed up.† Yours do.† Mine do.† It is a problem for everyone.
Eileen, age eight, talks about her seven-year-old brother.† You ask, ďHow do you feel about your brother?Ē† ďEcch! I canít stand him.† We always fight.† Heís always into my stuff and wonít stay out of my stuff.† Things are fine when heís not there.† He comes around and everything gets awful.† When he comes in, I just get up and leave.† I donít want him to touch me or get close to me or be around at all.† [You ask: is it always that way?† Arenít there some times when the two of you play and have a good time?† Eileen starts to cry.]† Heís always fighting with me.† I wish theyíd take him away.† I donít want to have a brother.† [You say to Eileenís mother: it sounds like Eileen is pretty upset about things with her brother.† Do you agree that itís always bad?]† Yes, I think she really hates him.† [You ask: How does he feel about her?]† Thereís no love lost.† It seems like he canít stand her either.† [You ask Eileen: How do you think your brother feels about you?]† I donít care. †I hate him.† He hates me too.† I wish they would take him away.Ē
Jane, age fourteen, is talking about her relationships at school.† You ask, ďHow do you get along with the other kids at school?Ē† ďI donít know.† I donít think they like me.† [You ask: What kinds of things make you feel that way?]† I donít know.† They can be laughing and joking around, and when I walk up, everybody stops talking.† Sometimes when Iím walking down the hall, other kids will be talking by their lockers or something and look over at me and start laughing. [You ask: Is it that way with all of the kids?]† It seems that way.† I donít know why they donít like me, but I sure donít think they do.† [You ask: Do you try to make friends with the other kids?]† I want to, but itís hard.† I can never think of anything to say.† I just stand there and get nervous.† My stomach starts tying all up in knots, and I get scared.† [You ask: Do the other kids notice this?]† I donít think so.† I donít think they pay any attention to me except to make fun or laugh or something.† [You ask: How do you get along with the teachers and the other adults at school?]† I get along fine with hem.† Iím just the kind of person they really love.† I donít make any noise or get into trouble.† I do my work and always get good grades.† They really like that.† Sometimes they want me to answer a question or ask me something in class, and I get embarrassed or afraid to talk.† I think maybe the other kids will think Iím a showoff or something. [You ask: Do you say Hi to the other kids or try to strike up a relationship with them?]† No.† I donít say anything to them.† Sometimes they look at me, and I just look back and get nervous.Ē
Karen is nineteen and works as a secretary in an office.† You ask, ďHow do you like your job?Ē† ďI like the work, but canít stand those people I have to work with.† Theyíre all such big gossips and are always talking about one another.† [You ask: Oh, do they gossip a lot?]† Thatís all they do, and they have so much room to talk.† This one girl I work with doesnít know anything about the job and never does any work.† She just stays there by putting up to the boss.† [You ask: Putting up to the boss?]† Yes.† You know.† She twists her neck back and smiles at him and gives him that look.† She just builds up his ego, I guess.† He walks away, and then she starts talking about him, saying how stupid he is and how he doesnít know his job, and just really puts him down.† If there is anything I canít stand, itís someone who is two-faced.† All of them there are like thatótwo-faced.† The first day I was there I told one of them about some trouble I was havingósome really personal stuff.† She couldnít wait to tell the other girls about it and have a really good laugh.† Iím going to get something on her and tell everyone.Ē
Mr. and Mrs. O are talking with you about their marital difficulties.† Mr. O says: I as talking with some of our friends, and they said you might be able to help us.† I donít know whatís wrong.† I guess we just canít communicate.† Mrs. O says: You know whatís wrong.† Iíve tried to tell you enough.† He just wonít listen.† You just donít care.† Mr. O says: Now, honey, you know that isnít true.† You know I really love you.† You know Iídóó Mrs. O: You donít know what love means.† I really donít think you are capable of loving anyone.† Mr. O: Now, honey, donít get upset.† Weíre here to talk about this.† We really needóó Mrs. O sarcastically: Now, honey; now, honey; now honey; donít now honey me.† You act so sweet and nice and like youíre so interested and concerned.† You ask: Do you two hassle like this all the time?† Mrs. O: This is mild.† You should be there when we really get into it.† Mr. O: Thatís true.† You can see how she is.† Sheís always that way.† She wonít óó Mrs. O: Thatís it! I knew youíd do it.† You want everyone to think itís all my fault.† You just want to blame.† Mr. O: What do you mean I want everyone to think itís your fault?† If youíd quit whining and stop acting like a spoiled little brat, everything would be fine.† It isnít any wonder I donít pay any attention to you.† Mrs. O: Thatís the only way you think of to solve anything, just yell, and if that doesnít work, beat it out of them.† You just better never try.† You ask: Do your discussions usually end up in fights like this?† Mr. O: Usually.† Mrs. O: Yes.† Thatís the way it usually goes.† You ask: Are there ever any good times?† Mr. and Mrs. O glance at each other and flash a playful grin between themselves.† You say: That looks like a good feeling between the two of you.† Mrs. O: I love him.† I have no idea why, but I do.† Mr. O: you know why.† Itís because itís really good sometimes.† Mrs. O: It doesnít make sense.† Itís so good one minute and so bad the next.† Iím really scared that the bad times are getting more than the good times, though.† Mr. O: Thatís why weíre here.