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Communication Advice Article

Whose Problem Is It?

By Susie and Otto Collins

When a problem, challenge or issue comes up in a relationship or marriage, whose problem is it anyway?

Is it yours? Your partner's?
This is interesting because whether you are in a relationship where you feel like you are really alone, you're walking on egg-shells or maybe you've gone from relationship to relationship and have not found the heart connection that you want.

One common question that we hear is: "It's not my problem. It's my partner's problem, so what can I do about it?"

It doesn't matter whether the problem is jealousy or maybe the person withdraws and won't communicate with you, maybe the other person allows his or her anger to come between you, maybe you just don't seem to be "on the same page" or maybe your partner takes no responsibility for his or her actions.
Our answer is always the same...
If there is a problem in your relationship or maybe in relationships that you've had in the past, look at yourself first because you are part of what is happening.
Now, of course we in no way find it helpful to lay blame in your direction. Blame of any kind--whether it's toward you or your current or past partner--is of absolutely no benefit to anyone except to keep someone in roll of victim or martyr.
With that being said, we'll tell you about a situation we observed recently to illustrate what we mean.
We were at a gathering and one of the women seemed pretty upset as she explained in an exasperated tone that her husband had left the party to go home and had left the keys to their van locked inside it.

She wanted to go home also but was upset that she had to figure out how to get there--without their van. She blamed him completely for her predicament.
Now on the surface, it certainly looks like this situation is all her husband's "fault" if you want to lay blame on anyone.

But as we discovered later, her husband had talked with her prior to leaving, but they hadn't really listened to each other and made their desires clear for one another.
We're guessing but they probably do this particular "relationship dance" quite often of mis-communicating and misunderstanding one another--not truly being "present" with each other when they are talking with one another.
So it's not just "his" problem but she has a role in their dynamic as well.
If that's the case--that both people have a role in contributing to most if not all relationship problems--how do you begin dealing with the situation if you feel that the other person is the problem?
Here are some ideas that we've used when we've thought the other person has the problem and we hope that they shed some light on helping you with your particular situation...
1. Own your part of it. Don't be seduced into thinking that it's all the other person's fault. It may be that the two of you are looking at the situation from very different eyes and from very different values.

Take a few steps up and out of the situation and look at it from a hawk's perceptive high in the air.

If you truly look at the situation from that vantage point, you will probably see how you have
contributed--whether from something you did or did not do.
2. Take steps to truly feel what you are feeling about what has happened. It may trigger memories from past relationships or it may be a past hurt that surfaces--along with what's currently happening.

When you pause to feel what's there for you, the whole situation becomes clearer. It's very easy to react from old patterns and not to go underneath of those patterns and discover what is really there.

Give yourself the space and time to contact what's inside you.

3. If it's appropriate, tell the other person what you have discovered about this situation and about your part in it-- without blaming either yourself or him  or her.

Do not speak from your "head" but rather speak from what you are feeling from your heart. The other will know and feel the difference and it can make the difference whether he or she reacts defensively or not.
4. Tell the other person how you would like your relationship to be and state your commitment to doing those things. You first have to figure what that means and then have the courage to ask for it.

Be sure to be honest with yourself about what you want and be honest about your commitment to doing it.
If you want better communication, commit to stopping the things that you do that prevent communication.

It might be to make sure that you are present with one another when you talk with each other, opening your hearts to one another and making eye contact so that you "hear" what each other is saying.
If you're in a relationship, especially an intimate relationship, there are undoubtedly things that come up that may be considered challenges.

Whether they are big ones or small ones, take the time to look at the situation from the hawk's
perspective and discover how you can grow as a person and as a couple.
If you do, you'll find that you become happier in your life and your relationships.

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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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