Angelo and Melissa had a troubled relationship. By the time they started couples counseling, Melissa had moved out and started divorce proceedings. When they talked about their conflicts, they could be downright nasty. They tended to blame each other, and the conversations could devolve into name-calling.
They were so locked into their ways of interacting they didn’t seem to recognize how dysfunctional the patterns had become. What was striking was when they weren’t fighting, they had a genuine love and fondness for each other.
This couple had developed some really bad habits. Once they started escalating, they would steamroll right over each other. Now they worked hard to learn the subtle comments that led to their eventual name-calling. They had to dig deep to break these destructive patterns and were successful in doing so. They were currently living together again and were determined to treat each other with respect.