As the Houston relationship counselor, I often counsel my clients in marital therapy to talk about problems in terms of how they feel about them and to attempt to be positive and constructive rather than tearing each other down. For some, this is easier said than done, and they seem to have difficulty wrapping their minds around the process, which is why I am always looking for new ways to articulate my advice.

That’s how I came across a wonderful way of thinking about it as described by Timothy F. Hogan. Instead of telling people to use ‘I’ feelings and be positive, he says that marriages work better when partners stop “Turning Away” or “Turning Against” each other and start “Turning Toward” their significant other.

Houston Relationship Counselor: Don’t Be a Marriage in Mutiny

I really like the image created by “Turning Toward” versus “Turning Against.” It makes me think of a crew starting a mutiny against their captain rather trying to work with him or her to find a solution that makes both sides happy. Too often, we focus on making people get their feelings out, but when a person isn’t skilled at this – and it can be difficult at first – it can often hurt the feelings of the other person – either intentionally or unintentionally.

Hogan’s method of “turning toward” is more elegant and defines the argument better. Criticizing, name-calling, and blaming are examples of “turning away” or “against” each other, whereas being encouraging and asking to work together for positive solutions are ways to “turn toward” one another. Put another way, yelling at someone for not being at home enough will only cause defensiveness and push them away, but saying you really liked it when you get to spend more time with them and asking how you can help out to get them home more often should elicit a far more positive reaction.

He also uses examples like writing a note when you don’t feel comfortable talking to your partner about something, and talking – even if it just to say that you are angry and need to cool down – instead of simply storming out of a room during an argument. For more ways in which you can “turn toward” and embrace one another instead of getting into the same old arguments and patterns, contact the Houston relationship counselor today for marital therapy that works.