Functional and Dysfunctional Couples

Characteristics of Functional and Dysfunctional Couples

  • Dysfunctional: Being together and unhappy is safer than being alone.
  • Functional: Being together brings us joy and happiness.
  • Dysfunctional: It is safer to be with other people than it is to be alone and intimate with our partner.
  • Functional: Being alone and intimate with our partner is as safe as being with other people.
  • Dysfunctional: If I really let my partner know what I’ve done or what I’m feeling and thinking (who I am), (s)he will leave me.
  • Functional: When I really let my partner know what I’ve done or what I’m thinking (who I am), it increases our intimacy. It’s met with acceptance.
  • Dysfunctional: It is easier to hide (medicate) our feelings through addictive/compulsive behavior than it is to express them.
  • Functional: We no longer need to hide and medicate our feelings through our addictive/compulsive behavior. We can express our feelings.
  • Dysfunctional: Being enmeshed and totally dependent with each other is perceived as being in love.
  • Functional: Being interdependent adds strength to the relationship.
  • Dysfunctional: We find it difficult to ask for what we need, both individually and as a couple.
  • Functional: We are learning to ask for what we need, both individually and a couple.
  • Dysfunctional: Being sexual is equal to being intimate.
  • Functional: Being sexual enhances our relationship (increases our intimacy).
  • Dysfunctional: We either avoid our problems or feel we are individually responsible for solving the problems we have as a couple.
  • Functional: We are learning to face our problems and not to feel individually responsible for solving the problems we have as a couple.
  • Dysfunctional: We believe that we must agree on everything.
  • Functional: We believe we don’t have to agree on everything.
  • Dysfunctional: We believe that we must enjoy the same things and have the same interests.
  • Functional: We believe we can have different interests and enjoy different things and enjoy being together.
  • Dysfunctional: We believe that to be a good couple we must be socially acceptable.
  • Functional: We don’t have to be socially acceptable.
  • Dysfunctional: We have forgotten how to play together.
  • Functional: We can play and have fun together.
  • Dysfunctional: It is safer to get upset about little issues than to express our true feelings about larger ones.
  • Functional: We are learning to express our true feelings about larger issues, and we are learning to resolve conflict.
  • Dysfunctional: It is easier to blame our partners than it is to accept our own responsibility.
  • Functional: We are learning to accept our individual responsibility.
  • Dysfunctional: We deal with conflict by getting totally out of control or by not arguing at all.
  • Functional: We are learning to deal with conflict and to fight fairly.
  • Dysfunctional: We experience ourselves as inadequate parents.
  • Functional: We accept our limitations as parents.
  • Dysfunctional: We are ashamed of ourselves as a couple.
  • Functional: We are proud of ourselves as a couple.
  • Dysfunctional: We repeat patterns of dysfunction from our families-of-origin.
  • Functional: We are recognizing and breaking the patterns of dysfunction from our families-of-origin.

From; Recovering Couples Anonymous

Coupleship: How to Build a Relationship

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