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The circle, the line, and the dot:

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Help for when your relationship is all screwed up


It happens to all couples, and it doesn’t mean you’re on the skids. You’re just in a bad place and don’t seem to know how to get out of it. Anger and bitterness and resentment have you in their clutches. There are too many problems in the present and grievances from the past for you to feel there’s any escape.


Panic? Well, that never helped anything. Divorce? You’d certainly like to prevent things from getting to that stage. Just stay stuck? Ding ding ding! That’s the popular choice!! But no one really likes it.

Here, then is your best alternative. We call it “the circle, the line, and the dot.” And it’s simplicity itself.

Here’s the circle:

It contains all your possible life choices right now. Hitting each other over the head with frying pans. Giving each other foot massages. Eating donuts. The whole gamut.

Now here’s the line:

The line (I wish I could’ve drawn it straighter!) divides your circle into a top half and a bottom half. In the top half are all the GOOD choices you could make for yourselves as a couple right now: the foot massages, the long walks, the listening to music. In the bottom are all the BAD choices you could make: the hitting each other over the head with frying pans, the hurling accusations, the trying to make dinner together in your crowded kitchen when you’re both tired and hungry.

And here’s the dot:

That’s where the two of you are right now. At a single dot in the middle of a line in the middle of all the possible good and bad choices you could make right now.

And if you want to make things better while you’re in the midst of this painful and confusing stuck place you’re in, all you have to is

move one small step into the top half of the circle. Straight up or more to the side, it

doesn’t matter. Just one little move into the hemisphere of good choices. Today. And \

again tomorrow. And every other tomorrow...

It could just be saying, “You know, I just wanted to let you know that in spite of everything, I love you.” It could also just be saying, “Oh, thanks, I really appreciated that.” Or, “I remembered to bring home those grapes you like from the store.”

That’s what healing IS. An accumulation of moves above the line. A refusal to make moves below the line.

And every day the dot is in the middle of the line in the middle of a circle, but day after day it’s gone up and you’re both in a new place. And day after day you take a step to continue making things better. And you try to make choices from the possibilities above the line.

Why Couples Fight is about a lot more than avoiding the power struggles that drag you below the line. Without those power struggles, you find your way to trust and generosity, and your needs get met, and you’re taking steps above the line you never thought were possible.


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