Apr 14, 2017
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Is this the key to make your marriage survive?

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Is this the key to make your marriage survive?

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Therapist Winifred Reilly has an unconventional approach when it comes to marital disputes: Just walk away from fights.

“You can’t have a tug of war if someone is not pulling on the other end of the rope,” Reilly, 63 and based in Berkeley, Calif., says. “You’re saving your marriage by not perpetuating these ridiculous demoralizing go-nowhere interactions.”

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Therapist Winifred Reilly has an unconventional approach when it comes to marital disputes: Just walk away from fights.

“You can’t have a tug of war if someone is not pulling on the other end of the rope,” Reilly, 63 and based in Berkeley, Calif., says. “You’re saving your marriage by not perpetuating these ridiculous demoralizing go-nowhere interactions.”

“Patrick and I had been acting like children, blaming each other for feeling victimized, both of us hunkered down in our foxholes — a state hardly conducive to a night of hot sex,” Reilly writes.

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When she learned to walk away from arguments, she immediately felt a sense of relief, and the dynamic of her marriage changed. She and her husband were able to handle pressures that before would have crippled them, found it easier to see one another’s point of view and liked each other more.

One of her clients took the same kind of initiative. The client’s husband had no interest in changing their marriage; he demanded they spend all their free time together, not allowing his wife to do anything by herself. If she did something on her own, he became emotional, but she learned to just walk away from conflicts, and their union improved.

“[The client became] less worried about [her husband’s] emotional state,” Reilly says. “She felt better about her own life and was therefore happier being with him.”

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Accepting that spouses grow and change throughout a marriage and that each person needs to have separate interests and activities is key, Reilly says.

“Our culture glorifies togetherness,” Reilly says. “We think a happy marriage is about being great together, but it’s about learning to be with someone different, growing up and learning what’s important to you.”

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