Here are some common—albeit negative—games many couples unwittingly play with each other. Have you ever played any of these games with your spouse/partner?
Argumentative and oppositional. Some people tend to be argumentative and oppositional, picking on their partners to get a rise out of them. One or both parties are driven to turmoil, so there is often a battle going on in the relationship, and things are frequently on edge and volatile. Your mate—who knows every hot button you have—intentionally pushes your buttons, and does so on a regular basis. Frequently, what is really going on is that one person needs reassurance or calming—and asks for it in the seemingly contradictory way of being contentious and oppositional.
Complaining a lot. Some people are experts at picking out the most negative thoughts possible and staying focused on them for prolonged periods of time. If ten good things and one bad thing happen, most of their thoughts are focused on the bad thing. These people complain, disagree, find fault or undermine their partner, and are anxious a lot. Few people are drawn closer to people who are negative, complaining or filled with anxious thoughts. Therefore, many who unknowingly play this game end up isolated, lonely, depressed and even more negative.
It’s your fault. The person reasons that s/he has little, if anything, to do with the problems in the relationship. Any problem is, therefore, the other person’s fault.
I’m going to blame you for the same things you blame me for. In this game, one person blames the other for the very things s/he does. For example, if your spouse complains that you do not listen to him/her, you deny it and say that s/he does not listen to you. Whenever someone has a complaint or criticism, the other adopts the complaint as his/her own.
Fighting as foreplay. In this game there is an intense fight, then a period of making up. The swing of emotions is quick and dramatic. One minute, you are fighting, thinking about divorce and ready to leave, the next moment you are making mad passionate love. This is because the fight creates adrenaline and is stimulating. Once stimulated, you are ready for love.
You owe me. I do so much for you and/or our family. You do considerably less. You are therefore indebted to me, and whenever I decide to call your debt due, you must perform to my satisfaction. But perhaps I will prefer not to call the debt due—so I can always have something to hold over your head.
Guess. Guess how I feel, what’s important to me, what will make me happy, what will make me unhappy.
I call the shots. I decide what we’re going to do, and if you cross me, there will be hell to pay. Therefore, don’t ever cross me. I am stronger than you.