Take Responsibility in Your Love Relationship or Marriage… What Will and Won’t Help You Move Closer Together Again
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Ellen feels sick to her stomach. She and her husband, Jim, had a really difficult weekend. Out of town guests were staying with them and, on top of this, it came to light that Ellen has been lying to Jim about how precarious her job.
She is still not sure exactly why she lied, but she has some ideas. When Jim discovered that Ellen might actually lose her job in the near future and that she lied to him about it, he was livid. Even in front of their guests, Jim said very cruel and angry words to Ellen and spent the rest of the weekend fuming and rarely speaking to anyone– especially not to Ellen.
Now that their guests have left, Ellen wants to talk about this with Jim. She feels nervous and nauseous about taking responsibility for lying to him. At the same time, she knows that they have to face this together in order to get through it.
Like Ellen, you may have lied about something to your partner. You might have even lied and had an affair. On the other hand, perhaps you did not lie but you have some unpleasant habits that aren’t helping your relationship thrive.
You have possibly become aware that you need to take responsibility for your lying, the affair or your habits because this has gone on too long. The signs of strain and tension in your relationship are undeniable and it’s time for action.
The challenge for you might be that you aren’t sure how to take responsibility for your actions or habits in a way that will truly benefit your love relationship or marriage.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that can help you begin to re-connect with your partner…
Don’t apologize if you don’t believe what you’re saying.
Remind yourself to ONLY offer an apology if you actually believe what you are about to say. This requires you to think about what happened and to identify your role in it. This is a time to make sure that you only say I’m sorry when you genuinely feel sorry and it’s from your heart– and not just words used to try to smooth things over with your mate.
Don’t point out why it’s all (or mostly) your mate’s fault.
For many people, the temptation is to look at a series of events with a blinded view. This means that you can easily see all of the ways that your partner messed up or provoked you and it’s almost impossible to see the role that you’ve played.
If your partner lied to you or cheated, for example, this can especially be true. When what the other person has done is blatantly unacceptable, it’s easier to identify what he or she has done.
When you do talk with your partner about what happened, resist the urge to point a finger of blame at him or her. Yes, there may be very obvious things that your mate has done or is doing that are hurting you and your relationship. Don’t make your main focus in the conversation listing off all of these things.
Don’t try to be responsible for your partner’s feelings, choices or experience.
Plenty of people go the other direction when it comes to taking responsibility. These people tend to approach a relationship problem with the attitude that I am the one to blame.
The effect of this is that some of the tension might ease in the relationship…but it’s at a HUGE cost.
When you try to be responsible for your partner’s feelings, choices and more, you are not doing anyone a favor. First of all, you are merely avoiding or glossing over some very real dynamics that you both contribute to. You also make yourself the bad one which allows your partner to continue doing what he or she has been doing.
Do own up to your share of the problem or situation.
We can’t repeat this often enough… Own up to your share– no more, no less– of whatever seems to be driving you and your partner away from one another.
Taking some time by yourself to look at your situation from an honest and as unbiased as possible a view is valuable. Identify your habits that play a role in the difficulties going on. For now, focus less on what your partner is doing and notice what you do.
Knowledge is most certainly power. When you know what you do, you are on your way to finding a solution.
Do talk about how you feel and what you want.
If you want to bring up something that your partner does that, you think, is a part of the problems you are having, use I feel statements.
It is far more effective to say to your mate something like, I feel afraid to speak the truth when you shout at me than it is to say something like, I have to lie to you because you yell all of the time.
Tell your partner how you feel and what you want– the positive changes you’d like to experience with him or her– when you talk. This allows you to communicate with integrity and responsibility.