How much of your behavior is in reaction to your partner? What do you do when your partner:
- Gets angry or irritated with you?
- Withdraws from you?
- Is blaming or criticizing you?
- Misunderstands you or is not seeing you accurately?
- Is always busy?
- Is complaining, needy, or pouty?
- Threatens you physically, financially, emotionally, or sexually?
- Threatens the relationship, or behaves in ways that feel rejecting to you?
Take a moment to think about how you respond to any of the above behaviors. Do you react in any of the above ways? Do you get defensive? Do you try to explain yourself? Do you become compliant, giving yourself up?
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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. These reactions either escalate the conflict or create a tense distance between partners. All of these reactions 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.
Tabitha consulted with me because her yearlong 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 stated:
Tabitha 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."
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