I’ve just finished reading You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One by Steven Stosny, PhD. What a great resource for anyone in a marriage where they are walking on eggshells!
Stosny, a psychologist who runs programs for abusive men, credits his abused mother for suggesting the core of his program. He identifies resentment as the problem and compassion as the solution.
Resentment, he claims, is a mood, rather than a specific complaint. Fix the current complaint and another will pop up to replace it as long as the mood lasts. Men and women both fall into resentment. For a number of reasons that Stosny lays out, men are more prone to be emotionally or physically abusive when they feel resentful,
and relatoinships are more likely to be damaged when women are the target of that abuse. So Stosny has worked with abusive men, and his success rates exceed those of anger management programs and programs that shame abusers.
Stosny teaches both the abuser and the abused to find their core value, which motivates them to improve, appreciate, connect, and protect, and to learn to summon it to fight their own and their spouse’s resentment. He teaches compassion, and he does it without creating shame or guilt. There are four parts, an introduction, a how-to for the abused, a how-to (called Boot Camp, like his workshops) for abusers, and a final section on rebuilding the marriage after learning to manage resentment.
I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone walking on eggshells around their husband, wife, or life partner or anyone who often feels resentment toward their spouse. I don’t know if the written version will have the same success rate as his workshops (where 36% go on to divorce, which is much less than for marriage counseling in general or even for marriages in general), but it will surely help many couples and many people whose lives are emptier for living in resentment.
You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One. Steven Stosny, PhD. New York: Free Press, 2006. 364 pages.