One of the most common scenarios that couples get caught in is to blame the other for the difficulties in their relationship. To each partner it just makes sense that if the other person would just stop doing X then everything would be just fine. Unfortunately, this is not productive nor is it accurate. Communication is a feedback loop, and each partner contributes to how the cycle unfolds. It can be very difficult for someone to look at their part of the cycle but exploring the role that each partner has in the cycle is the most productive means to the end goal of harmony and happiness. When couples can slow things down and become curious about both sides of the communication, they begin to understand the entire dynamic that has caused the upsets in their relationship.
The Key to a Healthier Relationship
To get the relationship moving in the right direction it is important to learn how to focus on the patterns of interaction and let go of the blame game. When we blame the other person, we put up a wall to further communication and understanding. To acquire the necessary skills, attitudes, and habits to create new outcomes one must learn to be curious about the interaction and refrain from simply putting the blame on the other person. The more one learns about themself and the more mindful they become about their part in an interaction, the easier it will be for them to break out of old, destructive patterns and develop new, healthy ways of interacting. Each partner will need to make the commitment to being curious about themselves and the other. I have found that once couples allow themselves to be open to this exploration they come to enjoy getting to know the deeper aspects of self and other. There are a lot of “Ah Has” at this point and it is gratifying to watch couples begin to understand how they came to be in a negative cycle. Couples begin to see the pieces of the puzzle fitting into place and can therefore begin to make different choices in how they respond to the other partner.
New Tools for Your Relationship
By the time a couple gets caught in a negative cycle, they’ve often lost the vision they first held when they fell in love. More importantly they have often lost the feelings of love that brought them together. The relationship has spiraled down and can feel hopeless and doomed. They no longer remember what it feels like to function as a team, it has come down to Me vs You.
With commitment to working on the relationship and with the help of a skilled therapist the couple will learn:
- How to better communicate. Learn to be more aware of what they say and how they say it
- Come to understand their own and their partner’s triggers to better be able to slow down and not have a knee-jerk reaction to what the other person has said or done.
- Learn to focus on the dynamic between each other and not simply get caught on focusing on the most recent conflict that upended the relationship.
- Learn to reach for each other to work together to unravel the misunderstandings and hurts that lead to the upsets and negative cycle
- Build a bond which will allow them to resolve arguments and upsets more easily and avoid having them escalate to a doomsday scenario.
Building a bridge toward each other and remembering that you are not enemies will help you and your partner develop the kind of relationship that allows each of you to flourish individually and together.