What Games Do Couples Play? (Part 6)

Games Couples Play 6

Vanessa and Mark’s Games

Most often on the surface, things can look really good or really bad, depending on what exactly we’re looking at as well as the angle of our perspective. Some couples are envied for the way their love looks on the surface and for the happiness they seem to have.  Vanessa and Mark seemed to have had it all in the beginning and they believed that they had the best marriage going until one day it just all went wrong.

Of course, when something goes wrong with a marriage, there must be an issue with both people and the way their characters combine in creating the games they play. Usually, the issues revolve around consequences of communication styles, games that the individuals play or just incompatible personalities.

The problem started with Vanessa and the way she was accepting the moods and the things being said by Mark. The way she perceived the aggressive behaviour needed to change to understanding that what someone else says is generally more reflective of who they are and what they are experiencing in their life rather than some shortcoming in yours.

Her sensitivity paired with her safety needs shown when she withdrew from Mark when he got aggressive. At these times, she no longer felt safe in his presence. Her normal reaction to his outbursts was to keep him far from her. At the same time, Mark was the one she expected and hoped for protection from.

On the other hand, Mark’s fundamental needs were also being compromised. When Vanessa pushed him away physically and she didn’t want him to come any close to her, he felt like he was being rejected. His feeling needs; to be able to feel his feelings and express them honestly, was something he said he was encouraged to do as a child. However being open with his feelings was now something Mark was being asked to change to avoid Vanessa’s sensitivity.

Consequently, both Vanessa and Mark became victims to themselves and each other in attempting to make their relationship work while both switched from being Helpless to Aggressive in their game playing, he aggressively so and she manipulatively so.

What Are the Games They Played?

Vanessa grew up in a family where anger was not expressed and arguments rare. Her parents made sure she didn’t witness arguments in the house, which is fair, but this brought to her character the lack of experience when dealing with a similar situation in her own later life.

Vanessa was protected from any exposure to an argument growing up because her mother modelled for her submissiveness as the way to respond to her husband’s demands. When Vanessa’s dad became angry Vanessa’s mother gave in to him to avoid an argument. The game her mother played and the one which Vanessa now played with Mark was “use me”.

Mark was never pulled up for his aggressiveness and so continued to treat her in exactly the same way as Vanessa’s father treated her mother. And the less Vanessa protested the more Mark felt he could put her down. Her game was a Helpless game and his was an Aggressor’s one.

As the games between them increased, Vanessa at the end believed she didn’t deserve to be treated better and Mark started to believe that he will never get emotionally close to a woman.

When Vanessa and Mark came to me it seemed inevitable that they would end up divorced. Finally, Vanessa learned that she could be more assertive in her complaint of Mark. Mark responded then more Helpless as he felt he couldn’t raise anything with Vanessa as it always just led to an upset. He had to learn that Vanessa needed to take care of herself and that he could be honest about his feelings without resorting to aggression.

Right and wrong barely exist when we’re talking about people, personalities, and relationships. One can be wrong for one of the partners and the other can be right and vice versa. What is important to remember is that we fall in love with the person and their qualities. And that we can learn from each other, on a daily basis, and not fight for energy and power. The real power is when you love, accept and understand the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with and keep the communication open and civil not reactionary.

To the wonder of you,




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