It’s Not Me – it’s YOU!
Whose Fault is it?
Far too many couples live a daily game of blame, accuse and defend; instead of standing united on common ground, they are divided by a negative line of accusations, and expectations. On one side of the line is a place of attack and on the other is defense at all cost. Existing in a tug of war between attack and defense, instead of being on the same team, accomplishes very little, and in the end both people are left feeling exhausted, defeated and misunderstood.
Before reading on, it is critically important for me to clarify that if your relationship has moved beyond bad communication, to abuse in any way, you must seek professional help for your safety and the safety of your children. There is never an excuse for abuse.
The biggest mistakes made in confrontational relationships:
Mistake 1. Taking daily inventory of all the ways your partner fails you.
When you look for what’s wrong, you are sure to find it. In an unhealthy relationship, it is impossible for your partner to live up to your expectations. You analyze everything they say and do, twisting their words and actions into evidence that proves they “never” take your feelings into consideration.
Step 1 Leading to Change:
Stop looking for what the other person is doing wrong. Start doing what’s right because it feels good, not for the purpose of using your good deeds as a weapon in the future. Be the partner you want to have. Acknowledge what is right with your partner. Remember why you chose he or she in the first place. State positive affirmations about your relationship. “I have a great marriage” “I chose the right person for me” Visualize harmony. Imagine what it would look like to live in a peaceful environment. The things we think about most, become what we draw into our lives. Use your thoughts to build your strength in a positive, constructive way.
Mistake 2. Mistaking aggression for assertiveness.
When you be-little your partner, you are not earning their respect, you are instilling fear in them. When your partner becomes scared of you, and walks on egg shells not to upset you, you have created a toxic environment that is not authentic and fulfilling. Respect is earned by giving, not by scaring it into people. Respect is earned by being fair, compassionate, empathetic, assertive, and confident. Being assertive means that you are sure of what you need to feel honoured in your relationship; this is then conveyed in a calm, confident manner and ensures your partner that you will honour them and expect the same trust and love in return.
Step 2 Leading to Change:
Do not be a bully or a nag. Stop the insults and personal attacks – they do nothing to ignite positive change in your relationship. Learn to express yourself using “I feel” statements and “I need” statements in a calm, non-excusing manner and then stop talking. Ask your partner to repeat back to you what you just expressed to them. Make sure you were heard and when you are sure you have been heard, give your partner the opportunity to communicate his or her feelings and needs in return, repeat back what they just said. Repeat this process until both of you feel you have been heard and do all of this without either of you defending or attacking. Your partner is not a mind reader, it is your responsibility to express what you need as a human being, and not to assume your partner “gets it”. If you have been living in attack/defense mode for a long time, you may need a professional to lead you through this process.
Mistake 3. Never fixing the core issues, and instead creating a pattern of arguments that begin with a little tiny thing spinning totally out of control.
Step 3 Leading to Change:
Recognize early on that the little issues are not the problem, in fact, it is unhealthy communication that causes little things to erupt into screaming matches and fighting that no one can possibly “win”. Acknowledge that if you do not learn early to communicate in healthy, positive ways, the pattern of unfair fighting will repeat over and over and the damage done to both of you will become harder to heal over time. Until you find a better way to disagree, choose NOT to engage. No one can argue by themselves. Walk away and calmly state that you will not engage in the argument because you know it will only spin out of control and accomplish nothing. If you do this enough, heated arguments will be extinguished before they rage out of control.
Mistake 4. Giving your partner power over your joy and happiness.
No one is responsible for your attitude and your joy. If you do not examine yourself and do the soul-searching necessary to find joy and happiness within, there is no outside person that can give you happiness. When you are right with yourself, you will not accept bad behaviour from others. Your happiness depends on you. When you are happy with yourself, you see everything and everyone one around you differently. You stop feeling let down, because you no longer expect things from others to be the tipping point of whether or not you are happy.
Step 4 Leading to Change:
Get to know you better. Be honest about what you want in life. Be honest about what behaviour you are willing to expect from others. Make self-care a priority because without it you cannot be a positive light in the lives of others. Look at your whole self – do you feel good Physically? Spiritually? Emotionally? Professionally? Devote time and energy into any area that you feel depleted in. When you value yourself, others will either do the same, or accept the consequences that you may choose to end a relationship that is not empowering or fulfilling.
Ask yourself in every situation, “What part of this do I have to accept?” “What, if anything, can I change?” The answers to these two powerful questions will shed light on the steps you must take to achieve a life of peace.