Solving relationship problems begins with taking responsibility for you.
In my counseling practice, many people struggle with the reality that each person is responsible for his or her part of the relationship conflict. It is common to see each partner trying to put the blame on the other, thus failing to see their role as a contributing factor. They often come to the sessions full of details of what their partner did wrong, having built a good case against each other. Does this sound familiar?
Some phrases might be: “If you had just lost the 50 pounds you said you were going to lose I wouldn’t have lost interest in you.” Or, “If you didn’t complain about how I did the laundry I would help more around the house.”
These phrases hold the partner responsible for the feelings and actions of the other.
So why is it easier to see another’s role in the problem and so difficult to see our own?
For one, most of us don’t like to be criticized. It makes us uncomfortable to look into our world to see where we might have made a mistake. That’s because we then have to do something, take an action to correct or change some behavior that caused the conflict.
Second, we might not agree that we really did have a part in the problem, which then renders it improbable that anything needs to be changed. This in turn fuels the fire and compounds the conflict, eventually causing still another problem: diametrically opposed views of whose behavior needs attention.
Clearly, it is better to accept responsibility and then transition into problem resolution mode to make changes.
Some ways to promote taking responsibility for oneself can help.
- How did I contribute to this problem?
- How can I help resolve this problem?
- Can we look at your part in this problem?
- Can we both make changes?
- What can we do to avoid this type of problem again?
It undoubtedly takes the effort of two people to be responsible for their actions in a relationship. If you see your partner as the problem, think again. That actually may be the problem in the first place.
The bottom line is this: Most problems can be solved if we realize that we are in control of our feelings and emotions; we take responsibility for our actions; and we see our relationship as a daily priority.