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A Newsletter for Intentional Relationships at Home & in Life
By Dawn J. Lipthrott, LCSW

NUMBER 2:2 Part 1

For more information on relationships or the loss of them,see the articles sections on this Web site.


This issue will come to you in 2 parts. Please read the situation below, answer the questions at the end, and make note of your assessment of the situation. Part 2 will explore a possible assessment and provide information to apply to your own relationships at home and work that have some of the flavor of Joe at work and at home.



--Does This Sound Familiar to Anyone?
--Questions for your evaluation of the situation


Feel free to share these newsletters with family, friends, and co-workers. I just ask that you include all identifying information in your copies.

This issue is a little different. I'm offering you a case scenario and asking you to explore your own thoughts about it before presenting some information about it. Part 2 will arrive in a day or two--but come up with your own ideas before you look at Part 2!

I also want to remind old and new subscribers to send me your questions about work or personal relationships or topics you would like to see addressed in future editions. I want this to have value for your life!

How did you do on creating or co-creating your relationship visions from the last issue?




Joe comes to the staff meeting interested and attentive. Mike, his boss, starts the meeting by having everyone throw out their agenda items and puts them up on a flip chart. Most often, Mike has his own agenda of which he informs everyone at the start of a meeting. The items today stimulate high energy discussions. People are interrupting each other to put out their thoughts and Mike controls the flow by creating a brainstorming session. Ideas are being thrown out left and right.

Mike notices, as he has in the past, that Joe just doesn't seem to be with it. He rarely, if ever, gives his opinion and doesn't even offer more than one idea in the brainstorming session. Mike knows that Joe is a creative thinker and is disturbed that he doesn't seem interested enough to participate. In fact, Mike is beginning to believe that Joe lacks initiative, assertiveness, confidence--all important qualities for a future supervisor. The VP has even commented to Mike that Joe's silence appears to be a lack of interest and care about the goals of this organization.

Joe arrives home a little late and his wife, Mary, is waiting anxiously. "Thank heavens, I was beginning to worry! she says. Joe gives her a kiss on the cheek and starts to go out of the kitchen. "Aren't you going to tell me what happened?" Mary asks. "Nothing much--just the usual traffic," Joe replies as he plops down in his favorite chair to read the paper.

At dinner, Mary talks about her work and her excitement and frustrations about the latest project she's managing. Joe listens without comment. When she finishes, he asks her to pass the salad. Mary can feel her blood pressure starting to rise. "Don't you even care enough to comment?" she asks pointedly. "Yeah, it sounds like you have everything under control," he says before he takes the next mouthful. Mary asks, "Well, what about your day?" "Same as usual," Joe replies. "That's it?" Mary pushes? "Yeah, pretty much the same old thing." Mary feels completely shut out.

Later, sitting in the living room, Joe is reading his paper and Mary decides to try again. She comments about her ideas for re-decorating the room, what colors she thinks will brighten it up, and whether to use wallpaper on one wall. As she's talking, she also comments that when she went to look in the office for the samples she had picked up in the store, it was such a mess that she didn't even know where to look. "We need to get that thing cleaned up. Every time I go in there--even when you go in there, it takes us so long to find anything!"

Joe explodes. "Can't I have 30 minutes of peace to myself without you giving me the list of chores I have to do! It's 9:00 at night and I'm not starting a cleanup job now. You're always nagging me!"

Mary is surprised and hurt by his outburst as he leaves the room. He's so touchy, he shuts her out, he never shares. She was enjoying talking about her plans and he flew off the handle for no reason. Why can't he be like Patty's husband who can talk about anything?

Joe is fuming. Mary just rattles on and on and never seems to get to the point. Why does she always start on what has to be done at night? He can't have a minute to himself to just relax and unwind. He sits in his office chair and thinks about some ideas for the project at work.



How would you assess Joe's behavior at work and at home? What might be some of the reasons for it?

What about Mary's behavior? What do you think about her way of communicating with Joe?

What do you think about their assumptions about each other (including Mike's regarding Joe)?

Stay tuned and see how your evaluation matches up!

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DISCLAIMER  Disclaimer: Information, observations, and opinions are offered for general reference only and should not be misconstrued as counseling advice, diagnosis or psychotherapy. Base your treatment or decisions solely upon the recommendations of your your own psychotherapist, counselor or physician or your own choices. By using this site, you signify full acceptance of our Terms of Use.   


I welcome your constructive comments and suggestions about the material on this website and how we can all be most effective in co-creating the kind of relationships and world that is honoring and respectful for all people.
©Copyright of the Dialogue Process as used in Imago Relationship Therapy belongs to Harville Hendrix, PhD

© Dawn Lipthrott, The Relationship Learning Center, 1998 Renewed 2008

(May be copied and distributed as long as this identifying information is retained on copies. Reproduction for financial gain is prohibited.)