The “180 List” For the Leaning in Spouse: Turning Harmful Urges Into Positive Actions

Many have picked up on the “180”  introduced by Michelle Wiener-Davis. The encouragement is for partners to do the opposite of what they are doing to elicit a new and more receptive response from their partner.  Often the list are generated to help leaning in partner to avoid the mistakes of pressuring and pushing their leaning out partner away.

I noticed that most of the items on the 180 list focus on what to stop doing rather than what to start doing. So essentially the lists do a good job at describing  the destructive  urges of desperate partners with little guidance on what the actual 180 looks like.  When it comes to stopping behavior,  I like to apply my favorite challenge, I ask:

“Good, if you don’t  ___________,  then what will you do instead?”

This is number one in a series of  posts to address these  lists of “Do nots”  I want to help the leaning in partner to develop a list of actions that will  help transform the dont’s from the list into do’s.   Focusing on solutions and positive actions can be challenging for those who are losing hope.  When a partner  feels  they have tried everything, it is difficult to  imagine what it looks like not to do something that comes naturally.  Here are some things I find helpful:

  • It helps to imagine  myself doing the harmful behavior, and then thinking what would my wiser, calmer self  would want to be doing instead.
  • It helps to  imagine what I might tell a friend to do in this situation.
  • It helps to have input from someone familiar with navigating and helping relationships in trouble,

In light of these challenges the following posts will give some suggestions and examples of what these actions might look like. I wish you the best in what can be a difficult season and  I encourage you to seek support.

If you find these posts helpful please click the “like” button at the end of the article, so  I can continue provide relevant and helpful tools to my readers.  With that said.  I  will start with the first common item

Digging Deeper into the  180 list:  Item 1.  Do not Pursue, Reason, Chase, Beg, Plead or Implore

The question:  When I find myself wanting to Pursue  my disinterested partner, chase after him or her, beg him or her  to consider what I want, or try to get him or her to listen and understand my reasoning  I will _______________.


1. I will remind myself gently that these are not unreasonable desires.  Instead of acting on them,  I will adopt a stance of curiousity with my partner.  If he or she seems evasive, disinterested, or unreasonable to me, I will allow myself to think for a momment “hmm, that is interesting”.  Then I will do something independent and unrelated to my  desire to change my partner.  I might go for a walk, organize that drawer,  or use my power of  persuasion and reason to explore myself and my unique interests (social, recreational, creative, spiritual).

These are just a few things I can do.  In sum, I will:

  • Acknowledge and own my personal distress, my personal desires.
  • Be aware of my partner as he or she is in this moment and rather than to try and change that challenge that or question that, I will  let awareness be enough.
  • Do something that recognizes me as an independent person.

Being  on the hopeful and committed when your partner is ready to call it quits (or already has)  can be painful, and difficult. I encourage you to take special care of yourself,  and seek support.


Please let me know if you liked this post, if you found it helpful, and if you would like to see more like it, by clicking  on the like button

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Posted in couple friendly counseling, Couples, leaning out, resources for Marriage Family Therapy, Saving the realtionship, self help

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Ramona Taylor, M.A. LMFT a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT97652)


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