He disregards her wishes, doesn’t consider negotiating and does what he wants. She disregards her wishes too, then stock-piles anger and blames him.
They will repeat this pattern many times during sessions, usually cloaking their process by discussing many Very Interesting Things. En-courage them to stop, introspect, acknowledge, and take responsibility for their own part in the dance. Each time you notice them doing it again,
- Stop them immediately and direct them to do something else.
- Invite them to notice their process. Ask if either of them is in pain enough to want to change what they are doing.
- Prescribe the process. Direct them to do it more and with consciousness.
Enact the process physically.
- Use objects such as small pillows to represent wishes. Designate something like poker chips to represent anger. Invite each of them to try and get a wish (in the form of one of the pillows) from the other guy. Work with their responses. For example, when she denies him a pillow-wish, he gets to grab it anyway and she gets to add a poker chip to her angry pile. When he denies her, she does not get to grab it anyway but she does get to add another poker chip to her angry pile. When they have stockpiled enough, they dump the poker chips on each other.
- Wonder where they learned this style of negotiating and without sarcasm, invite each of them to thank their parents for teaching them how to compromise so comfortably in a relationship.
Again, consider individual work. They may be able to find empathy for each other if one works with you at a time while the other witnesses.