Christian Marriage Counseling: Avoider Pursuer

Christian Marriage Counseling: Avoider Pursuer

Christian Marriage Counseling: Avoider Pursuer

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Home Page > Home and Family > Christian Marriage Counseling: Avoider Pursuer

Christian Marriage Counseling: Avoider Pursuer

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Posted: May 19, 2010 |Comments: 0



In our Marriage Counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, we often hear how one spouse chases and begs the other with unhappy results.

The following illustrates a dynamic common to mankind. It’s even prevalent in the world of nature. Understanding this dynamic will be very valuable in regaining your spouse’s interest.

Relationships are like seesaws. For example, if one person expresses all the optimism and confidence, the other person is invited to feel all the pessimism and insecurity. One goes up—the other goes down.

Spouses often balance each other in this way in what is called the “Avoider- Pursuer” dynamic. When one person’s position is extreme, it literally forces their spouse to adopt an equally extreme position in the opposite direction.

When one person wants the marriage to work, fairly typical patterns emerge. The spouse who wants to preserve the marriage desperately pursues their mate, trying to reverse the momentum of the alienation. Usually there is pleading, begging, crying, threatening—anything—to try to win back the departing spouse.

“I know deep down inside you still love me,” she says, in an effort to convince him to keep trying, or “What about all these years together?”  We have a history that shouldn’t be thrown away,” she tells him, hoping he will see the light. “I promise I’ll change, I know it can work,” he tells her, praying she will give him one more chance.

Although these acts of desperation are understandable, they unfortunately have the paradoxical effect of increasing the chances of divorce. The more desperate the spouse who wants to keep the marriage alive is, the less appealing he or she becomes. The result? The reluctant spouse becomes more certain that the decision to divorce is the right one and withdraws even further.

Pursuers have other things in common. As the marriage deteriorates, they often become obsessed with wanting to know their mate’s whereabouts and activities.

If separated, they may call many times a day, sometimes to check on their mate, other times to be reassured. These calls are usually met with anger or apathy, hardly the reassurance the caller needed. In fact, the distancing mate feels that the pursuer is try to control him or her, which inevitably leads to resistance.

The more one spouse worries about the breakdown of the marriage, the less the other spouse has to worry about it. The result? If you have been working overtime to convince your spouse that your marriage is worth saving, that you love each other, or you are worried about the children, you make it easy for him or her not to think or feel these things because you are doing it all for them.   The solution? Stop the chase! In fact, It’s not enough just to stop the chase, you must do a 180-degree about turn.


Don’t act down and depressed, don’t be clingy, no interrogations, no questions, no persuading, no convincing, be unavailable sometimes.

If separated:

Stop calling.
Be unavailable sometimes when he/she stops over.
Act happy (like your old self) when they visit
Be more involved with others, children, parents, friends, etc while they are there.
Make appropriate social plans for yourself.

Be interested but not eager. Stick with it for awhile before you decide if it is working. Resist the impulse to ask for more of a commitment, or of seeming too eager. Allow enough time for the positive interactions to take hold. Don’t get complacent too soon, or you spouse will become distant again.

If still living together:

Stop calling him or her at work or other places.
Stop initiating sex or trying to be seductive.
Make plans for yourself.
Keep busy around the house when your spouse is present.
Act happy. (actually become a happier person, this is a decision!)
Stop questioning your spouse about their whereabouts, or who they are with.

When you focus less on your spouse and more on improving your own life and making yourself happy, you can start making your life enjoyable again. When your own life is in order, you feel better about yourself, which helps you be more clearheaded about your marriage.

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Christian Marriage Counseling
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About Marriage Rescue Associates | Christian Marriage Counseling

With over 23 years of experience, Marriage Rescue Associates have discovered many effective methods for helping couples restore their family and marriages. As Christian Marriage Counselors, Marriage Rescue Associates can help construct solutions to rekindle love and rebuild trust that has been torn down by endless conflict, indifference, and unmet needs.

Don’t let your marriage or family become another statistic when you can actually do something to change it.

Seek out Marriage Counseling from an experienced Marriage Counselor that understands your situation and makes you feel comfortable with them.

To learn more about Marriage Rescue Associates, visit us online at



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christian marriage counseling, sex, paradoxical effect, spouse, commitment

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