Games Couples Play

By susanpeabody 08/10/18

When two people are in a dysfunctional relationship they play games. "Games" is a term created by Eric Berne in his book, "The Games People Play."

Games are interactions that two people use to control each other. The games become repetitive even though they do not work until the couple becomes addicted to them and can’t stop. Then all healthy communication shuts down.

There are three roles that each person plays in a game. Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer.

Let’s talk about the game that Harry and Sally play every Saturday night. Harry comes home from a bar at three in the morning. Sally plays Persecutor and yells at him for coming home so late. Harry plays Victim and tries to appease Sally. Sally feels sorry for Harry and plays Rescuer by giving him a hug. Nothing is resolved and they will play this game again the next time Harry comes home late. Sometimes they switch roles again and again before they finally go to bed.

There are many books about healthy communication: "You Just Don’t Understand," And " Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus," just to name my favorites. They will tell you have to resolve this issue and replace games with healthy communication.

I don’t have all the answers myself as I play games with my son all the time, but I do know once you recognize this pattern, you have to STOP. This means to listen and say nothing in the middle of a game. When your partner finally stops playing, you can invite him or her to sit down and discuss this in a sensible way.

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