Every time we blame our partner for something that has gone wrong in our life, we hold them responsible for our discomfort. We are placing them in what I like to call a “cause and effect” system. You get hurt: they caused it. You blame them: that is the effect.
The reason I know this system so well is because I grew up in it. In my house when I was young, if something happened, you looked for who was to blame, and then you let them have it. It seemed to work, or not in my family, but it did not work when I partnered with my mate.
He did not grow up the same and was not used to being held accountable when I became unhappy. He always looked like a deer in the headlights, wondering why I was having a meltdown aimed at him.
I was working with a couple recently. The boyfriend was unhappy. The girlfriend was unhappy. They both reported high tension in the home. But when we looked at what was happening, even though both were not talking and silent with each other, their behaviors spoke volumes.
They were wondering if they should stay together. Both were trying to feel better. But then something happened. The boyfriend began to isolate. He would come home from work sit on the couch, and drink beer while watching sports. Nothing wrong with this, but when he was focusing on the television, he wouldn’t talk to the girlfriend—not a word.
People in relationships want to be happy and peaceful. Couples all over the world share that wish. So why are relationships so fraught with difficulty and confusion? This is common too, and it’s something we can all do something about.
Unfortunately, most couples have one track for solving their problems—and it usually doesn’t work. Here’s why.
I met a new couple recently. They wanted to see if I could help them “fix” their relationship. They had been estranged for a while, but were hoping they could work through their issues for the kids.
I listened to each of them and I was struck with the hardness they both felt for each other. Each had been holding on to what was done to them in the years they had tried to make their relationship work. She felt betrayed. He felt attacked. Both were sad and disappointed.
As someone who is interested in what causes behavior, I am convinced that the madder you are, the more wounded you have been. It’s hard to think of an angry person as in pain though. Most of us want to get away from someone who is angry. We feel their fierceness and we just want to back away and not have anything to do with them.
I tried to calm him down. I did so three times. The fourth time I just let him rage, and that’s exactly what he did. He raged and raged and raged. And when he was done he got up and left the room. I continued with the wife and soon after the session ended. I felt a lot of emotion in the session and a lot of it was mine. I felt helpless to help him. I felt very sad for his inability to find a way to be understood by his wife. I felt him trapped inside himself and having no way to express himself except with a big booming voice that no one could tolerate.
I was listening to a friend recently talk about temptation. You know that feeling of being tempted that takes hold of you and you just can’t put on the brakes and whatever it is that you are temporarily obsessed by seems like you just have to have it no matter what? Yeah, that’s temptation.
Being seduced by an idea, a substance, food, music, or person people is probably the most human experience we can all have. We all wake up on some days and crave something. Maybe it’s coffee or tea or soda or a donut. We start with an idea. We get tempted with a thought. The thought becomes a craving and then it is a must have it.
Relationships cause hurts. We don’t want them, but they occur. This is just the way it is when two humans live and interact in a close and intimate way. We have a different kind of openness with our partners and when we get stung by them we get really hurt, I mean really hurt.
It feels as if they never really knew us at all, because if they did, how could they hurt us so badly? And if we get hurt, how long do we hold onto the pain of being hurt? Some of us can’t let go and we carry that hurt around inside us for a long time. In some cases it can last for years.
Do you think of yourself as “miserable” in your relationship? It might take you a moment to really think about how you feel most of the time, but if you say “yes,” you are miserable in your relationship. Well, let’s talk.
All of us, at times, feel terrible in our relationship. That just goes along with the nature of getting close to another person. People are complex. You and I included, now add your significant other. We are all so intricately different and unique, it’s no wonder we might get frustrated and upset when we try and get along with them.
I was listening to a talk recently and the speaker was telling us about how our brains are wired. He said that when something good happens it doesn’t stick in our brain because our brain treats the good like Teflon. But when something bad happens, our brain acts completely different, it becomes Velcro.
It doesn’t make sense that our own brain would act so contrary to what would be more helpful to us in our lives. It would be much better if all the good things in life were to stick like glue and the bad things would just roll off, but that’s not the way we are wired.
Remember the beginning of your relationship? You know, when you were falling in love with your special one. Remember when everything was perfect, the most wonderful perfect you could have ever imagined? This is what most of us as humans dream of, a perfect time and space with the one we love.
Everyone and every couple starts out this way. And most of the people I meet in my practice are desperate to get back to this wonderful, terrific space where both people understood everything about the other and there was peace and harmony and everything.