| Dr. Steven
It is easy to point a finger at a partner and be convinced that
the relationship would be better if only your partner would change.
Like charity, change begins at home and one of the keys to a happy
relationship is dealing with your own issues first. Begin by answering
a couple of questions for yourself: How is my behavior contributing
to the difficulties in this relationship? and What can
I do or stop doing to make this relationship work?
Couples often find themselves stuck in the blame game playing verbal
ping-pong as they search for who started an argument and who is
at fault for relationship disappointments. Before long the couple
is arguing about arguing and neither of them can even remember their
original issues. Most people know that blaming their partner wont
help the situation, but they continue to engage in blaming because
they dont know what else to do.
The problem is that the blame game results in defensiveness and
retaliation which then results in further defensiveness and retaliation
and so on and so forth until finally ending in hurt feelings all
around. The blame game doesnt help your relationship because
the blame game is too often about unexpressed power issues. Trying
to change your relationship by trying to change your partner wont
work since you dont have any power or control over your partner.
Repeat this relationship mantra to yourself everyday: I do not have
any control over my partner.
But dont give up on your relationship too soon, because you
do have power and control over your own behavior. Dont blame
yourself, but do take personal responsibility for your own behavior.
Why? Because its the only place in your relationship where
you have any power and control. You usually cant change what
you cant control, so it is important to work on your own issues
If, after looking at your own behavior, you are still having difficulties
in your relationship, then it might be time to seek out professional
If you are in a relationship where you are being either emotionally
or physically abused, or if you are concerned that you might harm
yourself or someone else, please phone the 24 hour per day Crisis
Line at 215-7082. A trained counselor will help you through your
Dr. Steven Cohn is the Director of the Portland Couples Counseling
Center and Co-Founder of the Irvington Counseling and Healing Arts
Center. He specializes in treating couples from all backgrounds.
For more information phone 503-282-8496.