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Avoid These Marriage Games

Crossrail Place Roof Garden

People in unhealthy marriages typically play marital games that prevent growth and lead to lost intimacy and marital satisfaction. In there book, Time for a Better Marriage, Carlson & Dinkmeyer list several typical games people play. Though the rules to these games are written by the couples who play them and are therefore unique to each couple, they basic is the same from marriage to marriage.

I’m Right; You’re Wrong

The point of this game is to always be right. Both players have elevated the need to be right at all cost including the cost of a marriage. Both players claim to know the truth, to have heard the last information, to have heard it more correctly. The other person is always mistaken, heard wrong, or just plain wrong.


The point of this game is to be the best bookkeeper of past decisions, or privileges in the marriage. Each partner is interested in balancing their own account. For example, “the husband says, ‘you picked the vacation last year so I’ll pick this year.’ She says, ‘Yes, but you decided what we would don on the vacation so I will pick what we do this year.’ So he says, ‘Well you picked the restaurants last year so I will this year.’” And on and on it goes.

People who play Bookkeeping feel psychologically inadequate; always worried they will be taken advantaged of. So in this perpetual state of caution they live a “pessimistic life style that leaves little room for cooperation.”

I Don’t Want to Discuss It

Through silence a partner becomes invincible.  As long as the partner remains silent, there is no chance for the other partner to claim victory.  Usually the person who plays this game feels powerless and silence is a weapon that cannot be taken away.

This is War

This is a game of revenge and is played by partners who believe, “I have been hurt by something you did or said, and now I’m going to hurt you in return.” This is a full fledged battle. Sophisticated couples learn how to play this game without looking bad to outsiders by using funny sarcasms and innuendo, but the other partner knows exactly the warfare being carried out.

It’s All Your Fault

This game is also called the blaming game and is played by injustice collectors. The key in this game is to be the first to attack; for once the attack begins the blamer takes the offensive role, and the other partner the defense making them more vulnerable.

In all of these games there are always losers. The antidote to games is communication. Couples who talk about their values, hopes, plans, and dreams are able to listen to the other person and find ways to help each other achieve these hopes and dreams. Marriage games are characterized by becoming a winner at the other person’s expense. The game-free marriage is characterized by a relationship of flexibility and empathy.

Playing a game you want to get out of? Call us at Discovery Counseling Center and we will help.

Want to learn more? Give us a call or make an appointment with one of our qualified therapists today!

Larry McElvain, Founder, Discovery Counseling Center

November 2, 2020


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