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This article is one of a series on
professional counseling, coaching, and therapy with (a) low-nurturance
(dysfunctional) families and with (b) typical
and trauma. These articles for
professionals are under construction.
This series assumes you're familiar with:
underlying this nonprofit, ad-free site
These 8 self-improvement
The [wounds + unawareness]
cycle - text
Three steps you can take to
break this cycle
Before continuing, pause and reflect - why are you reading this article?
What do you
+ + +
article is one of a series on effective clinical interventions with
low-nurturance family clients. A "low nurturance family" is one in which members
seldom get their
met in wholistically-healthy ways. An
effective intervention is an instinctive or intentional behavior of the
clinician which significantly raises the family's nurturance level in the
opinion of all involved.
the most from this article, first read:
this introduction to professional family
clinicians and educators,
this slide presentation on the
[wounds + unawareness] cycle
that is a root stressor with typical low-nurturance families. If you have
trouble viewing the slides, see
this overview of the clinical model on which
these articles are based;
this summary of
for effective professional service with these clients;
scan these terms which are liberally used
throughout these clinical articles; and read...
this overview of effective clinical assessment
client families; and...
this introduction to effective interventions with
low-nurturance families and individuals recovering from psychological
wounds. Then study...
This overview of and scan
these Project-8 article and
Now - pause and reflect: why are you reading this?
What do you need?
Why Does Project 8 Exist?
frequently quotes various sources as concluding that "almost
half of recent American marriages end in
(legal) divorce." The media also suggests that second or third unions -
specially those in stepfamilies - fail (legally) more often than first unions.
Commentators rarely add that there are millions of couples and families who choose
to endure loveless or toxic unions rather than the stressful legal process.
need to have a committed primary relationship seems universal, yet many American
couples seem unable to sustain a mutually-satisfying relationship - i.e. they
can't meet both partner's main
well enough, often enough.
couples are responsible for nurturing minor kids, a conflictual or loveless
union can promote serious psychological damage to them over time. For
perspective, note that sociologists like Andrew Cherlin propose that
marriages based on mutual love rather than
economics and/or social politics are a Western invention in the last century or
research since 1979 and working clinically with over 500 troubled Midwestern couples,
I propose that our unremarked, tragic
divorce epidemic has several root causes:
one or both mates are (a) wounded
of childhood neglect, major
and blocked grief, and
- and (b) they don't (want to) know that and/or what it means:
and their effects; and...
mutual unawareness of effective relationship + communication +
grieving + co-parenting basics - and of their unawareness (i.e. typical
mates don't know what they don't know); and often...
couples focusing on other superficial
problems (like a combative ex mate, "troubled child," money, and/or
intrusive relative) to avoid recognizing relationship "problems" and
their primary causes - specially if one or both mates were previously
until one or both mates hit
- often in middle age, they are at significant risk of passing on the
unseen [wounds + unawareness]
to their dependents and descendents. This causes secondary (surface)
problems along the way, and incrementally weakens our society. Finally,
I propose that...
major societal causes of the divorce
epidemic and individual couple's problems are (a) current
public and human-service
professional ignorance and/or denial of the factors above, and
therefore (b) lack of meaningful legislation to help couples make wiser
commitment and child-conception choices - e.g. test for psychological
wounds and unawareness as part of licensing a couple to marry (and
probably have kids).
wounded adults instinctively seek each other for partners, despite painful
prior results - i.e. they often unknowingly pick (a) significantly wounded,
unaware partners (b) for the wrong
(c) at the wrong
this may be adapted to but probably not reversed. Note that
aim to protect couples from making these unwise choices during
have never met a single client couple who knew that their presenting
problems were symptoms of primary problems "underneath them." Restated
- typical troubled couples will reflexively focus on
fight about who should manage the checkbook", and not the underlying
prob-lems ("We are often ruled by
and don't know how to
effective clinical assessment will suggest whether these factors are minor to major
for any client couple. Therefore, strategic interventions like those below
may reduce a local stressor but not
strengthen the union, or may help the couple accept their relationship
limitations, and perhaps make wise decisions about if, when, and how to
These premises help to shape this clinical
and shape the interventions below. The interventions are grouped as (a)
preliminary and/or common, (b) for couples denying significant relationship
problems, (c) for couples admitting significant relationship problems, and (d)
couples considering or committed to (re)divorcing - with or without children.
Useful Project-8 Interventions
These are specially useful for courting and newly
re/married or committed stepfamily clients. You may have already made some of
these interventions for other Projects. These Project-8 interventions are
grouped by client-type. Courtship relationship problems are handled in
interventions. For useful process
assessments and related interventions, follow the
General / Initial Project-8
1) Review the [wounds +
(Lesson 1), and ask if the partners think it's significantly
affecting their relationship
2) Option - review
and discuss the concept of surface and underlying primary needs
3) Ask "What main needs
you each want to fill (satisfy) from your relationship?"
4) Review typical primary-relationship needs
5) Option - review
and discuss the concept of choosing the right person/s to commit to,
at the right time, for the right reason.
Ask each partner to describe their mate's top 3-5 life priorities in
recent months, and discuss this;
Discuss the implications if their
relationship isn't among their top priorities, and present the
rationale for usually ranking their relationship second.
Option - ask mates what they think their minor kids are
learning about primary relationships from them
Option - ask each partner to review her / his
marriage or commitment vows, and whether they're meaningful now or
Ask each partner to summarize their opinion of their relationship
strengths and main problems (stressors)
11) Ask partners to describe (a)
their usual way of resolving relationship problems and (b) the usual
outcomes (needs met well enough or not)
1) Review the [wounds +
2) Review and discuss surface vs.
3) Learn what needs each
partner wants to fill by their relationship
4) Review and discuss typical
5) Option - review making three
wise courtship choices
6) Ask each mate to describe
their partner's top recent priorities
7) Option - facilitate discussion
if their relationship isn't their second priority
8) Present and discuss the ideal
priority scheme for long-range protection against divorce
9) Option - ask each partner to
review and discuss his / her marriage / commitment vows
10) Ask each partner to summarize
their main relationship strengths and stressors ("problems")
11) Ask partners to describe how
they usually try to resolve relationship problems, and typical results
B) Key Interventions for
Couples Who Minimize Relationship Problems
Premise: denial of current uncomfortable realities - like significant
partnership dissatisfactions - suggests a dominant false-self and related wounds
in one or both mates. Where true, adults protective false selves will usually
resist admitting and giving up their control of the host person. These
interventions build on those above.
C) Project-8 Interventions for
Couples Admitting Relationship Problems
D) Project-8 Interventions for