Dorothy Kaufmann, PhD,
is presently a marriage and family therapy Intern after a long career teaching and writing in the humanities. She works with couples and individuals in agencies and has a private practice in Berkeley, Calif.
The quality of life in a relationship depends on our ability to recover from the inevitable periods of fighting or withdrawing; that is, from turning each other into adversaries or strangers. At a minimum, we want to keep such fighting and withdrawing from destroying the relationship. But it is possible to turn these hazards into means for deepening the relationship by conducting a recovery conversation. In such a conversation, we go over the fight or withdrawal we were just in, but with an appreciation for each partner’s struggle and a recognition that each partner’s position made sense.