Do you find that minor conflicts in your relationship often escalate into major conflicts? I can help you discover a simple way to change this. How much of your behavior is in reaction to your partner? For example, what do you do when your partner gets angry or irritated with you? What if he/she blames you for arguments or even threatens you?
Stop and think about how you respond to any of the above behaviors. Do you react back in any of the above ways? Do you get defensive? Do you try to explain yourself? Do you become compliant, giving yourself up?
Personal responsibility means having "response-ability" — the ability to respond in a way that takes loving care of yourself. None of these reactions are personally responsible. All of them will cause problems in your relationship. Reacting either escalates the conflict or creates a tense distance between partners. All of them stem from a desire to have control over getting love or avoiding pain, but they tend to create the very situations that you are trying to avoid.
For instance, my client Tabitha consulted with me when her year-long relationship with her boyfriend, Douglas, was in trouble. Both Tabitha and Douglas were in their 40s and both had been married before. In her first phone session with me, Tabitha confessed, "I can't believe this is happening to me again. Every relationship I've had, including my marriage, has reached this point of seemingly irresolvable conflict. What am I doing wrong?"
She went on to describe what was happening between her and Douglas: "A lot of things I do seem to really irritate him. We have wonderful times and then suddenly he is very angry and threatening to end the relationship."
"What do you do when he is angry?" I asked.
"I try to talk with him and explain why I did whatever it is he is upset about," she responded. "I try so hard not to do the things that upset him, and now I feel like I am walking on eggshells." Keep reading...
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