Boundaries Blog — conflict

How to Guarantee that People Will Want to Be Close to You

How to Guarantee that People Will Want to Be Close to You

Amy and Randall had been married for eight years, and they loved each other. However, when he was angry or upset, Randall became moody and would withdraw from Amy and the kids, except for occasional outbursts of anger. When his manufacturing business was struggling, he would sit silently through dinner. Once, during this period, the children were arguing at the dinner table. Out of the blue, Randall said, "Amy, can't you keep these children in line? I can't even have a moment's peace in my own home!" And with that, he stormed out of the kitchen into his home office, turned on the computer, and stayed there until the kids went to bed.

Amy was hurt and confused. But she had a pattern of "handling" Randall's moods. She would try to cheer him up by being positive, encouraging, and compliant....

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The Truest Test of Trust

The Truest Test of Trust

The extent to which other people are concerned about their impact on you is the extent to which you can trust them. You trust them because you know it's not just you looking after yourself; they are looking after you too.

For example, I (Dr. Townsend) was working with Steve and Lisa on learning this, so that they could connect on a deeper level. She had a tendency to criticize him in public. It wasn't mean or harsh. It was more like he was always the idiot in her stories: how he dented the car, got the flight info wrong, let their daughter wrap him around her finger, and so on. He brought it up in our session....

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Boundaries Q&A with Dr. Townsend: 4 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist

Boundaries Q&A with Dr. Townsend: 4 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist

Question: Dr. Townsend, can you give advice for someone who thinks they are married to a narcissist? Everything seems to revolve around my spouse's wishes and demands.

Dr. Townsend: I'm sorry to hear about your situation. First off, the label of "narcissism" is not very helpful unless you are talking with a licensed therapist who has actually done an interview and diagnosed the person. People throw around the term, "narcissism," a lot and it gets confusing. It's much more helpful to talk about specific attitudes and behaviors that are problematic. For example, your second sentence, about everything seeming to revolve around your spouse's wishes and demands, is clear and specific. So let's deal with that aspect and get you some relief. Here are four tips ...

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Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Handling Guilt Comments from a Parent

Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Handling Guilt Comments from a Parent

Question: Dr. Townsend, my mother makes snide comments that she will threaten to harm herself if I don't come home for every major holiday and her birthday throughout the year. How am I supposed to respond to her comments?

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It's not funny, and is actually troubling, for a mom to make these sort of comments, even if she says she is joking. A part of us will always wonder how serious this is. The great majority of the time, these "guiltifying" statements are actually indirect expressions of disappointment, sadness or frustration that the person does not feel safe admitting....

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Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Setting Boundaries with Your Ex-Spouse

Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Setting Boundaries with Your Ex-Spouse

Question: Dr. Townsend: I am divorced and having difficulty setting boundaries with my ex-husband. Our conversations are awkward around our children. He lavishes them with toys while I feel like the disciplinarian. What do good boundaries look like in this situation?

First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm sure it can feel uncomfortable to be at odds with your ex-spouse in front of your children. This issue is always a tough one.

First, appeal to your ex-spouse about the need for your kids to have an integrated set of parents, even though you aren't married to each other. Tell him ...

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