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By C.H. Price, P.E. Politser

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A n y u n r e s o l v e d o r b a s i c d i f f e r e n c e s i n r e l a t i o n s h i p d e f i n i t i o n b e t w e e n s p o u s e s are likely t o s u r f a c e . M a r r i e d p a r t n e r s are r e q u i r e d t o d e a l (as s p o u s e s ) w i t h m o r e c o n t a c t w i t h e a c h o t h e r t h a n t h e y h a v e h a d s i n c e their c h i l d r e n w e r e b o r n , a n d at the s a m e t i m e t o a r r i v e j o i n t l y at n e w r e l a t i o n s h i p n o r m s ( a s p a r e n t s ) f o r d e a l i n g w i t h a c o m p l e x a r r a y o f issues arising f r o m teenagers' bids for a u t o n o m y .

F i n a l l y , t h e r a p i s t s m u s t l a b e l b o t h f o r t h e m s e l v e s family m e m b e r s h o w the e n d - p o i n t s o f ritualized s e q u e n c e s represent and adaptive a n d legitimate payoffs. W h e n b o t h therapists a n d family m e m b e r s c a n b e g i n to a p p r e c i a t e the l e g i t i m a t e a n d a d a p t i v e f u n c t i o n s o f r i t u a l i z e d s e q u e n c e s , c h a n g e can be implemented. T h e critical l e v e l s o f a s s e s s m e n t as o b j e c t i v e i n f o r m a t i o n are t h e r e f o r e c o n ­ f o u n d e d w i t h the t h e r a p i s t ' s f o r m o f initial i n t e r v e n t i o n w i t h the f a m i l y .

B y c o n t r a s t , a s y s t e m s o r i e n t a t i o n c a n alert t h e o b s e r v e r t o f a m ­ ily p h e n o m e n a that p r o v i d e a n a l t e r n a t i v e , less p u n i t i v e , a n d m o r e c o m p l e t e in­ t e r p r e t a t i o n . P e r h a p s a d a u g h t e r r u n s a w a y w h e n h e r p a r e n t s fight a n d b e g i n t o discuss divorce. Thus her running away sets the occasion for parents to c o o p e r a t e w i t h e a c h o t h e r , a n d at the s a m e t i m e a t t e n d m o r e t o t h e i r d a u g h t e r ' s e m o t i o n a l n e e d s .

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