Marital First Aid Kit
By Bryce Kaye
Foreword and Instructions
For many years, I have wanted to more openly share the knowledge from the many lessons about human nature that my former clients have taught me. More than any graduate school or formal training program, my clients have both taught and inspired me with their heroic struggles to face down inner demons and to open themselves more completely to life. It is with much gratitude that I now hope to pass along some of this experiential knowledge so that others may benefit.
The following "Marital First Aid Kit" contains a distillation of the most common ailments that I have found to blight couples in distress. The metaphor of "First Aid" applies here because the offered suggestions are exactly that: They are first interventions that are not under professional supervision, not comprehensive, and not meant to be final solutions. However, like real "first aid", there is often a real value in proactively addressing a problem before more authoritative help can be arranged. I encourage you to think of this "kit" in such a manner. Think of it as a collection of things that you and your partner can try before you see a marital counselor. If you need more help afterwards, you will at least have gained some momentum for working together in counseling. Even if the interventions donít immediately help, your reactions to the attempted interventions will be useful to your future counselor for planning new strategy. In the best case scenario, the interventions may help you get past being "stuck" and you may progress to resolve your difficulties yourselves.
In this "Marital First Aid Kit," I have divided the problem syndromes into two categories. The first and most severe category contains the four most toxic syndromes found among couples. The second category contains the most frequent syndromes that are less toxic. The reason why I separated the two categories is that the most toxic syndromes are unlikely to be constructively addressed by a couple working without outside help. Instead, I offer some suggestions for what you can do individually and how you may go about getting professional help. For the less toxic syndromes, you and your partner may find that you can make productive gains by working together before going for professional help.
Finally, let me encourage you to give me feedback about this "kit". I welcome any suggestions for any additional problem areas, syndromes, and interventions that can be added. Like the web itself, it would be wonderful for this kit to grow by popular support, both lay and professional. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please address it to me, Bryce Kaye, by using the feedback link below.
Good luck in your endeavors, or I should better say "Good Work"!
In the next section (Diagnostics), read the preliminary discussion and then review each of the syndromes to see if any of the descriptions apply to your situation. When you find the most appropriate syndrome, click on the indicated link for relevant discussion and suggested interventions.