It happened once again. For the millionth time a couple in crisis contacted me for help.
As usual, my first question was: “How may I help?”
As usual, both partners proceeded to present a laundry list of complaints about what the other partner said that was wrong – or didn’t say that was wrong. Or I heard what the other partner did that was wrong – or didn’t do that was wrong, etc. You get the picture.
Actually, I bet you can probably relate to this with some fights from your own marriage/relationship!
After hearing the litany of complaints each partner lobbied against the other, I asked my next question: “How do you think you may have contributed to these problems?”
Reply: Crickets! Silence! You could hear a pin drop!
For over thirty years of working with couples as a relationship and communication expert – the silent reply to this question: “How do you think you may have contributed to these problems” is commonplace.
Regardless of what the cause of pain might be, i.e., infidelity, fighting about money or bickering back and forth about everything and anything, many people in intimate relationships become so entrenched in thinking about how they’ve been “wronged” – they totally forget that well, quite frankly, it takes two to tango.
So what’s my point?
The point is we all get so caught up in what I call the “blame game” in our marriage, that we completely forget the fact that it takes two people to create a fight.
Think about this for a moment. It is impossible to fight with someone who refuses to engage in battle with you. We cannot have a fight all by ourselves – it is just impossible.
There is no such thing as a one-handed clap.
In our relationships we get completely immersed in what our partner “is”, or “isn’t doing” to us, that we totally lose sight of anything we might be doing that contributes to the tensions and difficulties we are experiencing in our relationship.
There’s a saying amongst the experts in my field that goes something like this: there’s his side, there’s her side, and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Ah, so true!
The next time you are fighting with your partner and/or experiencing difficulties in your relationship, take a deep breathe and stop for a moment.
Stop pointing your finger at your partner – demanding all sorts of changes and apologies from them- and take a moment to think about how you might be contributing to the fights and tensions in your marriage!
Think about the famous line from the fairytale: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
Think about how you might be contributing to the problems in your relationship.
Then – think about what you are able to change that would decrease or end the tensions or difficulties you are experiencing.
Taking just a little bit of responsibility as it relates to the problems in your marriage will go a long way towards fixing them! This is the #1 Secret all happy, loving marriages share!
It takes two people to make a relationship work. And those are the same two people who play a role in the relationship when it isn’t working.
Taking a long hard look in the mirror may not be an easy thing to do – but it will pay off in spades when it increases romance and happiness in your relationship.
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