Health and Wellbeing

5 Losing Strategies Used By Couples

September 10, 2013

you're a loser, babyWhen I recently read this article by relationship counsellor Clinton Power I couldn’t help but smirk a little because until quite recently,  I was plenty guilty of pretty much every single losing strategy that he named.

Every. Single. One.

If anyone had have asked if there were underlying issues in my relationship that may well eventually prove insurmountable, I would totally have pointed fingers. Not at me. At the other person in my relationship… ie, that cute dude in my bed.

I wouldn’t have accepted responsibility for any of the ongoing issues in my relationship, because I’m an awesome wife.

Just ask me.

The thing is, I’m not the only person in the relationship, and maybe not everyone sees my desire to have things my own way, or need for controlling stuff as awesome, or imperative, as I do.

After some serious soul searching, and a chat here and there with Clinton over the past few months, I can say the best place to begin working on your relationship is in your very own shoes. Mostly because your partner’s shoes probably don’t fit, or smell funny, but also because it goes back to the old adage –

You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself.

1. Being Right

Clinton suggests that sorting out differences in a relationship is not a matter of who is right or wrong. You may well be right according to your value system without taking into account the values of your partner.

Who doesn’t love to be right, right? Especially, when you are friggin’ right, thank you very much.

However, part of working together as a team is endeavouring to see the situation from someone else’s point. If you’re really busy being right, you’re no longer listening to your partner. Of course, there’s the fact that you are right, but it is possible that……sharp intake……you are both right.


2. Controlling Your Partner

Contrary to popular opinion, people really don’t like to be controlled.  The reality is that being a control freak bossy pants is never a successful strategy and is likely to foster resentment and mistrust.

One of Mister H’s pet peeves is when I ask him to do something and then I hassle for it to be done immediately. How bloody hard is it to just do what I want, when I want it, right?

It’s really hard for me to accept that he has other pressing things on his To Do list (browse the web, cut his toenails) and that I need my request to go into the queue.

Accepting this is pretty difficult for a control freak, but learning to take a chill pill will only benefit your relationship in the long run.

Clinton even mentions stuff like indirect controlling – AKA manipulation. Manipulating people is incredibly unhealthy for all parties involved. The only form of manipulation you should do on your partner is christmas present hints, and hand jobs.

3. Unbridled Self-Expression

Ahem. Yes, well…. I may happen to know someone who has a very large mouth and a penchant for self-expression. Sometimes that makes me the most popular person in the room, and other times I make people cry and feel like an arsehole for days.

Clinton believes honesty is not always your best policy, particularly if it leads to you hurting your partner through you ‘speaking your truth’. ‘Just being honest’ doesn’t really cut it if you’re hurting people’s feelings. Perhaps, instead, go for ‘just being kind’…. unless you’re talking about nasal hair. Then your partner needs to just deal with that shit.

4.  Retaliation

He pissed me off, so I’m not going to do his washing…… no, wait, I am going to do his washing but I’m throwing a red sock in his whites.

He left his shoes in the lounge, so I’m going to set them alight using his matches collection (hypothetical, although I did once know a splitting couple and he set her clothes on fire with her matches collection after she slashed his car tyres).

An eye for an eye, and everyone goes blind. That’s not really being very mature, is it? It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re pissed but it only makes matters worse. Being the bigger man is actually more fulfilling than payback.

Unless it’s a Dutch oven. Then retaliation is the only way.

5. Withdrawal

No one likes being shut out. Withdrawing can often be worse than all of the yelling and screaming because once the wall comes up it’s almost impossible to get past an issue.

Clinton believes that withdrawal can mean a number of things. It may be that you are giving up, using it in a passive aggressive manner for retaliation or maybe signalling that you don’t wish to invest any further energy in the relationship.

You must keep talking. The only way to keep your relationship on track to to keep communicating in a healthy fashion. If you’re struggling to do that, then maybe seek a relationship counsellor to help to give you tools to create a healthy and life long relationship.

If you find that you’re employing some or all of these losing strategies, maybe you need to have a little look at what’s going on in your relationship.

If you need help on that front, I reckon talking to a counsellor is brilliant. You need to find the right one for you, but they are as valuable as a great hairdresser or gynocologist. Sometimes a mediator is all you need to get through the shitty issues so you can leave them behind and make way for new shitty issues…. because you can bet there will always be new ones, but it’s just about how you deal with them.


If you liked this post be sure to like my Facebook page or follow my twit twaddle @theholsbys to ensure you can always keep up with the Holsbys.


Hooking up with EssentiallyJess on this essentially awesome Tuesday with the essentially fantastic IBOT gang….

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  • Reply For the Love of Ovaries September 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Great stuff. I agree 100% on all of this. I’d add a few others too, but this is all spot on.

  • Reply Eleise September 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Some great tips, I often fall into the retialiation. Fine if I don’t do anything around the house wait until you notice that we don’t have a cleaning fairy who miraculously cleans and irons all your work clothes…….. But you are right, it serves no purpose except to drag out anger. Love these hints 🙂

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      That’s not a good one…. something more direct. Perhaps piling all of the mess into a big pile in the middle of the floor?

  • Reply Have a laugh on me September 10, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Shit shit shit – you have just described me! But I am trying – sort of – okay I’m not but I will get a yellow postix and write this shiz down (ha ha about the hand job BTW, he WISHES) xxx

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 10:49 am

      A good way to prevent number 4 though 😉

      Sent from my iPhone

      On 10/09/2013, at 9:20 AM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

      • Reply Have a laugh on me September 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

        The snip took care of that possibility 😉

        • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

          I reckon 3 would prompt that here too!!

          Sent from my iPhone

          On 10/09/2013, at 10:52 AM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

  • Reply The Thrifty Issue September 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Yep – I’d say both hubby and I are guilty on all fronts! It’s easy to fall into those habits, but like you said, talking is the perfect way to move forward. We’re always learning 🙂 Cheers, Alison #IBOT

  • Reply Me September 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I am so guilty of asking A (or K for that matter) to do something and then whingeing away until it’s done !!! I never understood why they didn’t just do it when I asked !!!! Thanks for sharing these 5 points – certainly something to think about !
    Have the best day !

  • Reply Tegan Churchill September 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I’m guilty of a few of these things, especially the withdrawal lately but it is something that I am working on in therapy. I think another factor that can breed resentment is the blame game. Sometimes it really is no ones fault, and playing the blame game just allows the issue to still have an impact on your present. My partner had a very messy break up with his wife of 27 years, and I am the first serious relationship he has had since. For a long time he held me to the same ransom that he held his wife believing deep down that it was only a matter of time until I did the things she did. It took a lot of discussion (ok yelling) but I think that it’s something that isn’t as big an issue as it was a couple of years ago.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      It’s so hard not to bring the baggage of our past into our future…. it takes time, communication and more time, to build the trust and heal past hurts.

      Totally worth the effort in the end though, babes. How good is therapy?? Bloody love it.

  • Reply daddownunder September 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    The worst thing is when you know you’re doing something that isn’t very healthy for your relationship and you just can’t quite break the cycle. I do the classic male shutdown thing and would quite like not to. Great post

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      You’re soooooo infuriating!!
      I think we all DO some stuff on the list, but it’s about recognising it and moving on, and how quickly we do that.

  • Reply Janet (@RedlandCityGirl) September 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Fantastic post! The hubster uses the silent treatment occasionally, but I just let him “go into his cave” as the Mars / Venus book advises. It used to tick me off and I’d explode and/or rant, but now I just leave him – I know he’ll come out and talk when he’s ready.

  • Reply mamagrace71 September 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Oh, man…guilty as charged!!!
    LOL on your retaliation strategy with socks. I should try that one…oh wait. I did it to his white business shirt 😉

  • Reply mummyflyingsolo September 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Great post! I’ve had a bit of a penchant for being right over the years but now I try to just choose my battles instead. Some stuff just isn’t worth it. As a friend once said to me when I was debating whether or not to correct someone “Oh yes by all means do it because everyone loves a pedant”. Oh yeah. I kept it to myself. On that topic, I have another friend who faced this issue in her relationship and her mum asked her “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”. Her response? “But being right makes me happy” LOL

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 10, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      PEDANT!!! I love it. My new word.
      Being right makes me happy, but to be honest, he;s right way more than I am, and I’ll be the one arguing the loudest.

      Shhhhh, never admit that out loud.

  • Reply Lizzy Allan September 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Great post! I’d have to say I am guilty of all of them … but then again so’s my partner! Lol. It’s a bit of an eye-opener 🙂 and it’s so true how withdrawal can actually feel worse than the yelling and shouting – it feels like moving forward is impossible.

  • Reply coloursofsunset September 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Been there done all of them. Ooops. We are both guilty of not communicating. Sometimes it *has* been a “I don’t give a shit anymore” reason, but we’ve got past that, thankfully. It’s often hard to remember relationships are two way streets. Thanks for sharing. x

  • Reply EssentiallyJess September 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    One of the best things I heard, is that man desires most to be respected, and a woman desires most to be cherished. It’s something I’ve kept in mind and always try to think ‘does this respect my husband?’ When he feels respected, he is such a different person, and expresses love in the way I need it.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      That is lovely, Jess. I love your mindfulness. I’ll try to remember that one. Except in the case of the Dutch oven.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On 12/09/2013, at 2:20 PM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

  • Reply Nina September 14, 2013 at 2:31 am

    It’s so important not to feel right all the time. One thing that helps keep me in check is I remind myself that even if we have different approaches, we likely have the same intentions. This applies to crazy coworkers too; they may not do it the way I would, but I know deep down that we both have the same goals in mind.

  • Reply Domestic violence November 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

    […] Whether it’s hitting, grabbing, pushing, throwing stuff, slamming shit or even flipping your lid in an uncontrolled manner, if it’s scary in the slightest, it is intimidating behaviour. […]

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