In the Psychological Mind-Game, both parties begin the communication in the Adult Role, or at least from the same Ego State. In the immediate conversation cited above, the opening exchange was probably fairly superficial, most likely characterized as a Reciprocal Transaction in which both parties communicate at a superficial level from the same ego state.
Their first words were probably a safe and predictable, "Good morning, how are you?" "Fine, did you sleep well?"
But then the wife became the Initiator and began another Transaction that again appears harmless on the surface, "It looks like you're off to play golf again". But at the psychological level a Hidden Message is being sent, the "Bait", that seeks to attack or stimulate a limitation in the Parent or Child State of her husband. He takes the Bait and responds as the aggravated or intimidated Parent or Child.
Perhaps as a child the wife saw her own mother abandoned weekend after weekend for the golf course or bass boat or football game, and she observed the only way her mother was able to fight back against this loneliness and indignity was with sarcasm. Perhaps the husband watched his father respond to a nagging spouse with petulant outbursts. In either case, the Adult State has been abandoned, and both are at war as Wounded Children or Angry Parents.
Why are they both engaging in a transaction that seems so futile and frustrating, a transactional dance they waltzed over and over again through the years? Transactional Analysis would respond that in the absence of real intimacy, negative Strokes are better than no Strokes at all. "Strokes" are simply the positive or negative feedback, attention, recognition we receive.
The individual thrives on recognition, affirmation, attention, preferably positive affirmation and attention. But again, in the absence of any positive attention, its better to receive at least negative attention than to not be acknowledged at all. The Child inside longs for someone to slow the music to a slow embrace, where tender needs and fears can be expressed in the warm safety of acceptance.
(Continued from part 1)