Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Not Me. It's You.

All too often, when we find ourselves feeling dissatisfied or experiencing problems in our relationships, we point fingers, place blame, and really start focusing on our partners and what we perceive to be their faults or shortcomings. We think to ourselves that if our partners were somehow different, if they would just change, if they would stop doing what they're doing, or start doing what they're not doing, our relationships would be better and we would be happier.

However, when we engage in such thinking, we disregard the role that we ourselves play in our relationships and the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction that we experience in our relationships. To use a worn-out cliché, it takes two to tango. Relationship problems seldom result from the actions of one partner alone. Sometimes they do, but frequently, they don't.

Instead of focusing on what's wrong with our partners, and expecting and demanding that they change, maybe we should focus a bit less on our partners' faults, whether real or imagined, and focus a bit more on ourselves and our contributions to our relationships. We should ask ourselves questions such as, "How can I be a better partner in this relationship?" "What can I do to improve this relationship?" "How am I contributing to this problem?" A final suggestion is to keep our expectations regarding our partners and our relationships realistic. Real people and real relationships seldom match up to the ideals presented in romance novels, Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies, and fairy tales.