Relationship problems are like songs we don’t like. We have conflict or problems in our relationships, so we change something we’re doing - just like we change the songs we listen to, when we are tired of hearing them or don’t like them anymore.
The disturbing thing is, when you keep trying to change the songs of your relationship problems, you really prolong them. Why?
Consider Christi’s Experience
Christi* came home from dinner with Stan feeling angry and frustrated. One more time they had argued; this time it was about Stan’s drinking. Other times it was about how much time he spends watching sports, or how little time he actually spends WITH her when they go out. One more time Christi felt like she was in this relationship alone, that she had to do all the giving. One more time she felt invisible and taken for granted.
As she thought about it, Christi realized she had lived most of her adult life this way. First there was Bob, whom she had married in her mid-twenties. They were both just out of college when they married, and Christi thought the long hours Bob spent at his office at the start his career would eventually end, and they could focus on building their family together. They had three children in ten years, and Bob nearly missed the births of the last two. Christi became a very accomplished organizer and juggler, managing their home, taking care of the kids and getting them to their activities. She kept smiling and kept going, thinking things would change soon.
Meanwhile, Bob was advancing in his career, which required evening meetings with clients and community leaders. Christi attended these events sometimes; but then she stopped because she usually ended up by herself, while Bob was meeting and greeting, and furthering his career connections. All the time she kept telling herself she was doing this to support Bob.