When Tom begins to feel neglected by his partner, Anna – when she doesn’t show much interest in his everyday life, isn’t being affectionate enough – Tom initially cuts her some slack, telling himself that she’s probably tired from work or stressed. But as it goes on, he eventually gets fed up and blows up – suddenly ranting at her about her playing a video game, or about her clothes laying on the floor, or the dirty dishes she left in the sink – and Anna, feeling surprised, unsafe, and hurt by Tom’s assault, then withdraws further. Tom, now feeling sorry for his explosion, goes into make-up mode, but as Anna’s withdrawal continues and his feelings of being neglected rise, so does his resentment, fueling the cycle once again. Anna sees Tom as angry and needy, Tom sees Anna as self-centered and withholding.
Steps to Solve Core Relationship Problems
I'm a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 45 years experience, primarily in community mental health working with couples and families as a clinician, supervisor and clinical director. My work is grounded in cognitive-behavioral therapy and systems theory with a heavy emphasis on changing dysfunctional patterns and behaviors in everyday life.