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Identify relationship patterns and understand
the triggers

What are unhealthy patterns?

The presence of the behaviours below will throw a spanner in the works of any marriage or relationship that matters to you. They are patterns usually involving both partners, or family members, and undermine the very foundations of a good relationship. Here are the four main patterns to avoid - the first letters spell out the word ‘CAMP’ as an aide memoire:

  1. Criticising one another. This often leads to a downward spiral of ill will, negativity and retaliation. It provides a pathway to all parties feeling hurt or wounded, affecting the emotional connection that provides the basis for a thriving, healthy relationship.

  2. Attacking and defending. Many will recognise that this is both exhausting and counterproductive. It is a very quick way of using up any emotional goodwill in the relationship. The attacking behaviour is often the more visible of the two behaviours, but defensive reactions can be just as corrosive.

  3. Mocking and feeling worthless. If either person mocks the other with contempt leaving the other feeling worthless, it can inflict real damage upon the relationship. In fact, according to relationship researcher John Gottman, this is the number one predictor of divorce. It is something to avoid at all costs.

  4. Pursuing and evading. This is actually a very common pattern that couples in particular fall into. In practice, it often means one person pursues the other because it feels as though the relationship is lacking in some fundamental way. The other person anticipates being ‘emotionally cornered’ and seeks to evade the encounter, often by ‘stonewalling’.


Couples, marriage and family counselling play a critical role in helping people uncover the unmet emotional needs that often drive such behaviours. Stop going round in circles and overcome these patterns in a safe place.

Read more about other key areas:

Emotional regulation

Building a stronger friendship

Communicating effectively

Creating intimacy

Realising your relationship's potential

Make an appointment by calling 07906 795 791 or click on the 'Contact Us' button below.


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