Relationship Rescue:

A Seven- Step Strategy for Reconnecting with Your Partner

Phillip C. McGraw.  PH.D.

ISBN 0-7868-6631-4 

5 star must reading.   [The following is what I highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my List of Peace resources.  My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work.  To properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the proper context.]



Get Real: Reconnecting with Your Core

·         …there is a serious and outcome-determinative precondition.

·         You have to get real about you.

·         …reconnect with yourself first.

·         You have to take your power back and become the kind the person who commands quality, inspires respect, and settles for nothing less than active and abiding love.

·         You’ve lost touch with that part of you that I call your core of consciousness – that place where you are absolutely defined, the place within you where your greatest strengths, instincts, values, talents, and wisdom are centered.

·         …scrape away all of life’s layers of distortion, negative input, and doubt-inducing messages, and get back in touch with your own core of consciousness…..

·         It’s about the power to give and to lift up those around you. What I’m talking about is the power that comes from depth and conviction – the power to inspire, the power to create, the power to experience your life and relationship at a totally different level. It is the quiet, calm power of dignity and worth.


Chapter One

It’s Your Time:  It’s Your Turn

·         Research shows that over two-thirds of couples, married or otherwise, who attend relationship counselling are worse or at least no better after one year.

·         People needed a solid, practical, way to reframe their lives and their lifestyles in order to create a healthy relationship rather than live in such a way as to maintain and support a bad one.

·         I want to shake you back to your very core, to wake you up, and then help you start designing a memorable life and a memorable relationship.

·         …strip away all your defences and fears,……break through the clutter of your past,…raise your standards of personal excellence,….stay diligently on course…

·         Relationships in general, and marriages, and families in particular, continue to disintegrate before our eyes.

·         …you are not inadequate or incompetent when it comes to a relationship.  The brutal and sad fact is that the deck has been stacked overwhelmingly against you.

·         …society… ..never bothered to teach you how….

·         ….techniques and realities for creating and managing a healthy relationship.

·         …the truth is that your relationship is in trouble because you set it up that way.

·         You set it up that way by actively, consistently, and efficiently designing, programming, and choreographing your entire lifestyle to generate and then support a bad relationship.…a lifestyle to….

·         …if you are living in a dysfunctional relationship with another person, it’s because you have a dysfunctional relationship with yourself.

·         You can’t control your partner…

·         But you can inspire your partner……start living a new way…

·         ..constructive……start choosing differently…

·         ..“move your position”. I ….change the way you think, feel, and act in relationship to yourself and your partner…First: it is not too late….Second: you are not alone…

·         You are closer to success than you could ever imagine if you just have the courage to get real with yourself.

·         The strategy for rescuing your relationship involves seven major steps.

·         First, we will focus on defining and diagnosing where your relationship is now….

·         …define specifically,  precisely,  what is wrong with you – as well as what is wrong in your relationship – will you be able to set reasonable goals for change.….get to what is structurally, behaviorally, philosophically, and emotionally not working.…match a solution to it….…power…knowledge…..

·         Second, we must rid you of wrong thinking…

· haven’t suffered just an absence of information; you have suffered a poisoning of your thinking by an infusion of wrong information…..”myths”.

·         Third, it will be important to blow the whistle on your own negative attitudes and behaviors and the specific ways you do irreparable harm to your own relationship.

·         …you can control you !…

·         …the fourth step, which is to internalize a set of what I call “Personal Relationship Values”.…give your partner positive things to respond to….

·         ..the fifth step, ….the specific formula for a successful relationship.

·         ….sixth step, we begin the reconnection process.…reopen negotiations, to work through a series of critical steps in order to learn how to deal with your own needs and your partner’s needs in a way that sets you up for success…fourteen – day program….

·         Seventh step, you will learn how to manage your relationship once you have reconnected with your partner.…you must consciously decide to actively, purposefully work on improving your situation each and every day.…make the time needed to work on the relationship.….it becomes of great conscious importance to you.

·         Be committed, do what it takes, and you will have what you want.  Stay committed to facilitating that change.   You have to be committed to the long –term development of an entirely new lifestyle of thought, feeling and action.

·         You must take a stand that you are going to defy the odds, defy your own insecurities, and defy the conventional wisdom that has failed you so miserably.

·         Adopt a philosophy of passion that says, “I will not quit”.  I will not allow my hopes and dreams to be pushed aside.…don’t forget about the importance of your relationship with yourself.  You must tell yourself that it is not wrong to want it all.


Chapter Two

Defining The Problem

·         …articulate the underlying problem that’s causing the friction.

·         ..where you are in your relationship and why.  You need to know your relationship’s assets and liabilities, the things that work well and the things that don’t .

·         The worst thing you can do is to draw faulty conclusions about the cause-and- effect aspects of the problems in your relationship.

·         …be excruciatingly honest about this relationship and the part that you play in it.

·         …you are the agent of change.

·         …list of characteristics that describe a problem relationship…

·         …this is about winning for the relationship…

·         …you must approach your relationship with a willingness to own your part of the problem.

·         You teach your partner how to treat you…by the way you respond…

·         You must identify what it is in your lifestyle as a couple that is eliciting, maintaining, or allowing a bad relationship.

·         You negotiated your relationship into its current condition…….That’s where you will stay until you develop a lifestyle that creates healthier behavior.

·         …your partner – the person who is supposed to be the most significant and trusted person in your life.  Just how dark are your feelings about your relationship, and just how negatively do you think about yourself and your partner? Under no circumstances should you share these answers with your partner.

·         The only thing worse than having a relationship in trouble is to have a relationship in trouble and be in denial about it.

·         …one definition of love is that the security and well-being of your partner is as significant to you as your own security and well-being…

·         …you can deal with anything as long as you know what it is.



Chapter Three

Blowing Up The Myths

·         I have made this judgement  call using one simple criterion:  results.  Based on results, these myths don’t have one whit to do with whether your relationship is successful.


Myth 1:  A great relationship depends  on a great meeting of the minds

·         …you are so totally different from your partner.

·         Different is okay.

·         It doesn’t work because of something called instinctual drift.

·         Instinctual drift is the tendency for all organisms, when under pressure, to resort to and exhibit their natural tendencies.

·         ..a relationship is far more enjoyable when you’re with someone who enriches your life, not simple reflects it.

Myth 2:  A great relationship demands a great romance

·         ..most people don’t know how to measure success in a relationship.  Most people have a distorted view of what love is…

·         Inevitably, with all couples, that initial wild passion transmutes into a deep and abiding commitment – still rewarding, but not always so dizzying.

·         The answer…. Learning how to move to the next stage of love.

Myth 3: A great relationship requires great problem-solving

·         …most of  the key issues that create real conflict within a relationship never gets resolved.

·         ….simply agree  to disagree.

·         They decide to reconnect at a feeling level rather than disconnecting at an issue level.

·         …place the relationship above the conflict..

Myth 4:  A great relationship requires common interests that bond  you together forever

·         It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.

Myth 5:  A great Relationship is a Peaceful One

·         …the nature of the way you argue, and by how you deal with the argument once it has run its course.

·         You must get emotional closure at the end of your arguments

·         …get your mind and heart in balance and allow your partner to do the same.

Myth 6:  A great relationship lets you vent all your feelings

· order to meet the criteria of being open and honest to know if  what you’re about to say is going to be said in the most apropriate manner, and that may take more deliberation.

Myth 7: A great relationship has nothing to do with sex

·         If you have a good sexual relationship, it registers about ten percent on the “important scale”.

·         If  you do not have a good sexual relationship, that registers about ninety percent on the “important scale”.

·         Sex can be enormous symbolic importance…

·         …destructive behaviors can begin to emerge…

·         …there must be a sexual bond between the two of you, a kind of chemistry that makes you  two recognize that you are more than friends who share a life.  You are mates.

Myth 8:  A great relationship cannot survive a flawed partner


Myth 9:  There is a right way and a wrong way to make your  relationship great

·         …“you say the most when you say nothing at all”.

·         If we learn our partner’s language instead of demanding that they adopt our language, we may find that we have far more of what we want than we think we do it.

Myth 10:  Your relationship can become great only when you get your partner straightened out

·         The more important person for you to influence is yourself. 

·         You are the most important person in this relationship, and you must be the focus of your beginning efforts to change this relationship. 

·         You must rediscover your own dignity and self-esteem – your own personal power.

·         …mature into a more healthy relationship

·         ….make the choice to be self-directed  and  start  working for real change.

·         I guarantee you by the end the book, you will inspire your partner to behave and think and feel in different ways.   But never think you can control your partner.  And never think that’s it’s up to your partner to make your life better. 

·         You are in change of yourself.

Chapter Four

Eliminating  Your Bad Spirit

·         There’s an even more insidious technique that you use to harm……

·         That’s when you approach your relationship with what I call your “Bad Spirit”.

·         …immature, selfish, controlling, and power seeking.

·         …your dark side…

·         When your bad spirit comes roaring out, you are the most disconnected from your core of consciousness that you can get.

·         …you can’t afford to be defensive about it or pretend that it doesn’t exist in hopes that it will go away.

·         …the only thing worse than having terrible things happen to you in one phase of your life is mentally and emotionally carrying those terrible events and feelings into the next phase of your life.

·         You must be willing to meet your bad spirit face-to-face, recognize how it manifests itself in your behavior, and then quickly get yourself out of that mind-set before it does even greater damage.…know this self-defeating nature so….…and stop it….


Characteristic 1:  You’re a Scorekeeper

·         A healthy relationship is clearly a partnership.  Partners cooperate, they support one another, and they depend on one another.

·         They do not compete.

·         In any relationship, you are either a giver or a taker.  Takers keep score to justify the taking.  How can you possibly be a winner if it is at the expense of making the person you supposedly love a loser?

·         …fighting for leverage, power and control? Solid relationships are built on sacrifice and caring, not power and control.….competitiveness between partners is an ill wind that can blow through an otherwise healthy relationship.

·         Your bank points….

Characteristic 2:  You’re a Fault Finder

·         …for too many of you, criticizing and blaming and disparaging have become your stock in trade.  Because you no doubt feel a lack of satisfaction with your own life, you attempt to “level” your partner.

·         The terms “always” and “never” are judgmental and argumentative.

Characteristic 3:  You think It’s your Way or the Highway

·         …self-righteous….

·         You are obsessed with control..

·         The message to your partner is clear:  “I am better than you”.

·         Your objective is not just to dominate, to manage your partner with condescension and intimidation, but to stake out the moral highground.

·         …you cannot serve two masters…

·         …control.. ..Eventually, you will compromise and sacrifice the relationship rather than admit ownership in a problem.  I cannot imagine a more self-defeating spirit than this one, for you are putting your own ego above the welfare of the relationship.  You will let the relationship go down in flames rather than be honest about your own shortcomings.

Characteristic 4:  You turn into an Attack Dog
Characteristic 5:  You are a Passive Warmonger

·         …passive aggression…

·         If you turn to passive aggression in a relationship, you are not only a master of gutlessly avoiding accountalibility, you are also a master tactician at undercutting your partner and all that he or she seeks to achieve.

·         ….you guarantee failure and frustration because the standard you seem to be looking for is so terribly unrealistic.

Characteristic 6:  You Resort to Smoke and Mirrors
Characteristic 7: You Will Not Forgive

·         Bitterness and anger are such powerful forces that once they enter your heart, they change everything about you.

·         …you’ll explode..…pessimistic view of life…

·         Your body feels so physically unbalanced.

·         You do have the power to forgive.  You have the power to say to your partner, “You cannot hurt me and then control me.  I am the one who makes the choices”.

·         By forgiving you, I am releasing me! This is one of the most important things you can learn from this book. You forgive for yourself.

Characteristic 8:  You Are  the Bottomless Pit

·         …the spirit of insecurity..

·         …too needy..

·         …there is never enough of anything…

·         More than sabotaging yourself, you are sabotaging your partner.

·         We all want reassurance from our partners.  That is perfectly healthy.  But there is also a point at which it becomes toxic….

·         ….tell me I’m okay because I am unconvinced.  With the insecure spirit, eighty percent of all questions are statements in disguise. 

·         What’s more, those questions are demands in disguise.

·         …break from your old inhibiting mind-set and free yourself from the internalized sense of inadequacy and from the accusatory voices from within you that tell you not to be too demanding or to want too much…

Characteristic 9:  You’re Too Comfortable

·         Here, you become so passive that you get nestled in a “comfort zone” where the name of your game is to play it safe, not to reach, and maintain the status quo.

· are cheating your partner and yourself.

·         If you’re in a comfort zone, you are failing to meet your responsibilities in the relationship.  You aren’t contributing, you aren’t stimulating, you’re not energizing, you’re simply not carrying your end of  the deal.

·         Whatever it is for you, you have a more intimate relationship with that than with your partner.

·         ..stagnate…

Characteristic 10:  You’ve Given Up

·         “learned helplessness”.

·         You have shut down.

·         ..stopped entertaining the notion that improvements can be made to whatever has happened between you and your partner.  You have stopped learning or gathering new information.

·         “My partner will never change”.

·’re killing your spirit.

·         People do change, and so can you and so can your partner.

·         You can hear such a message, and you can reconsider your situation.

·         …rebuild your best kind of spirit, that spirit that lets you believe in yourself and in your partner.

·         …change attitudes and feel hope.

·         At this point you’re ready to move forward, to proclaim, “No, I will not do this anymore.  I will not let my competitiveness cause me to drive a wedge between me and my partner.  I will not let my self-righteous attitude control me. 

·         I will not give in to my tendency to be dishonest and hide what I really think and feel. I will not become vicious and alienate my partner. I will not lose my self-esteem, and I will not be helpless.


Chapter Five

Reclaiming Your Core:  The Personal Relationship Values

·         There is no middle ground.  If you aren’t constructively, contributing to the relationship, then you are destructively contaminating it…

·         …activate the positives.

·         …get your mind and your attitude right.

·         To start the reconnection process with your partner, you must passionately adopt the proper spirit.

·         I can bring out the best of who I am, my mind, and my heart – and I have the passion and power to use them..

·         In essence, the ten Personal Relationship Values will reprogram you for success.


Personal Relationship Value 1:  Own Your Relationship

·         …You choose.

·         It’s about you creating a different lifestyle that will enhance your relationship.

·         …stop seeing yourself as a victim.

·         …your opportunity  to use your power.

·         When there is something unfulfilling in your relationship, your very first step…

·         …should be to evaluate what you specifically are doing to cause that lack of fulfilment.

·         By looking at yourself, instead of your partner, you’re focusing on something you control instead of on something that you cannot.

·         The time has come for you to take charge, to find a new level of personal power.

·         …an agent of  change.

·         …start being honest.

·         When you do, you will start making permanent, healthy change-not only within your relationship, but within yourself.


Personal Relationship Value 2: Accept the Risk of Vulnerability

·’s to be expected that some longstanding fears and anxieties will emerge.  The tendency is natural, but it will not serve you here.  You must take some risk and remember you are not alone.

·         …resolve to trust yourself to be able to handle whatever your partner may do concerning this relationship.

·         …do not let fear paralyze your life at this moment …


Personal Relationship Value 3:  Accept your Partner

·         There should be no higher calling your for you than to meet your partner’s need for acceptance.

·         …things are still okay, we’re going to get along right now, and most important , we are going to feel safe with each other.

·         …despite our differences.

·         …the bottom line is that I accept you for you who are, and will always be there for you.

· will be a safe, loving place for your partner to fall onto.

·         …approachable.  By having two partners who are moving toward each other, rather than both trying to seek safety from pain, the chances of reconciliation are dramatically improved.


Personal Relationship Value 4:  Focus on the Friendship

·         Bottom line:  if people feel better about themselves after having been around you, you will find that they value your company.


Personal Relationship Value 5:  Promote  Your Partner’s Self-esteem

·         You must strive to help your mate maintain the feeling of worth and empowerment, the desire to operate at the highest level, to overcome self-defeating behavior, and to design a life full of happiness and fulfilment.

·         …you want your partner to feel “honored”.

·         ..reflecting back his or her virtues rather than short-comings.

·         You want your partner to know that the two of you can work it out without either one of you having to be pounded down.


Personal Relationship Value 6:  Aim Your Frustrations in the Right Direction

·         ..the greatest stress that can be visited upon and individual is that which is associated with holding that person responsible for something he or she does not control.

·         ..stop using your mate as a dumping ground.


 Personal Relationship  Value 7:  Be Up-Front and Forthright

·         …you will equally damage the relationship by keeping from your partner your most meaningful and honest feelings.

·         ..lying to.…we must be responsible stewards of those feelings and emotions.

·         To own your relationship means to also own your feelings.  By being honest about your emotions, you base your relationship upon integrity rather than lies and deception.

·         …in the vast majority of cases, anger is a sham, a superficial covering for something else.…hurt, fear, and frustration.  For your mind-set to be defined by emotional forthrightness, you will need to do a fair amount of introspection.

·         Bottom line:  give yourself permission to feel the way you feel, and require yourself to have the courage to give those feelings and apropriate voice.

·         …neither should you allow your partner to misdirect you.


Personal Relationship Value 8:  Make Yourself  Happy Rather  Than Right

·         The real measure

·         …whether it is working or not working

·         …destroying their relationship over a fight for control.

·         If you and your partner have a forgiving spirit and allow each other some measure of grace when one or the other of seeks to reduce hostilities, your future will be bright.


Personal Relationship Value 9:  Allow Your Relationship to Transcend Turmoil

·         …no longer  use threats as a lever to manipulate and control your partner.

·  not make your relationship the stakes for which you are playing.

·         There is a great feeling of liberation that comes with the commitment to treat your relationship as something sacred.  It’s not an extra burden.  All you’re doing really, is getting rid of false sense of urgency.

·         ..start operating out of a calmer, more secure position.

·         …set a clear limit.


Personal Relationship Value  10:  Put Motion into Your Emotion

·         ..create an environment in which anything less from your partner just doesn’t seem to fit.

·         You can no longer settle for living a second-class life with your partner.  Ambivalence is no longer in your vocabulary.  Passivity is no longer on your list of emotional choices.  You must set the bar of excellence for yourself at an unprecedented high level, and then with tenacious determination strive to leap over it.

·         ..after losing at love, these relationship refugees had taken stock of themselves and decided they’d better clean up their act.

·         ..if those people had made those changes while still in their relationships, they would probably still be  there.  All they had to do was replace their stagnation with action, their apathy with interest.

·         …being proud, about taking great pride in your actions around your partner.

·         My great desire is for these Personal relationship Values to rise to the level of what I call life decisions…most important things that define who you are.

·         Life decisions occur in your heart, and carry a much deeper level of conviction….