Here’s a surprising fact you may not know:
Research has shown that at any given time, couples are grappling with about 10 problems in their relationship—regardless if the relationship is happy or unhappy.
And if they manage to solve one problem, guess what? Another problem will inevitably pop up.
What this means is that the quality of the relationship is NOT based on having little to no problems.
Every couple has problems—about 10 to be exact.
The quality of the relationship is a couple’s ability to stay connected, regardless of the problems they’re facing, working on, or solving.
But what if you think your partner’s behavior is to blame for almost all your problems?
Maybe they drink too much or spend too much. Maybe they’ve had an affair. Maybe they aren’t communicating with you about important things and it creates chaos in the household.
What makes things worse is that they refuse to take responsibility or “own” their part of the problem.
Is there a way you can get your partner to step up and change their behavior in a way that’s loving and will bring you closer? Or is conflict inevitable and blame and shame par for the course in every relationship?
If you want to know how to get your partner to change their behavior, you’ll want to keep reading…
Because I’m about to reveal what helps, what doesn’t, and what you should keep in mind whenever you’re facing a relationship issue that your partner needs to own and handle.
Let’s say that you bring up an issue with your partner, in this case, them having an affair, and they refuse to own their culpability in the issue.
Maybe they say that “it takes two to tango” or tell you that if it wasn’t for something you did or didn’t do, they wouldn’t have had the affair. They try to say that your behavior “made” them do whatever it was they did.
This is incorrect. Here’s why…
I tell couples that in any relationship, they can categorize their issues in one of three ways: YOUR issues, MY issues, and OUR issues.
What that means is that there are certain issues for which you or your partner have to take 100% ownership. That means that it’s NOT an issue in which BOTH partners have equal culpability. For example:
You can provoke your partner, for example, by withholding lovemaking, but having an affair is a personal choice. There are many, many ways of handling someone withholding lovemaking without choosing to go outside the relationship to fulfill your physical needs.
There are also many ways of handling overwhelming or lonely feelings without resorting to substance abuse or spending too much money on shopping.
These types of issues are intrapersonal, meaning it’s within you to decide to make that choice or not, but once you make that choice, it does have interpersonal consequences (between you and your partner).
For example, your partner’s affair affects you, but you didn’t cause your partner’s affair.
And because you didn’t cause your partner’s negative behavior, you may not be able to fix it.
So many people in relationships get stuck trying to fix a problem they didn’t cause. It doesn’t mean you can’t work together or support each other, but ultimately, some issues are yours or your partner’s alone to work through.
But what if you look at the issues in your relationship and realize they’re almost ALL your partner’s issues? And they refuse to see that? What then?
You may look at the issues in your relationship that are causing conflict and trouble and say to your partner, “YOU are the reason this relationship isn’t working!”
It’s so easy to want to BLAME your partner! In fact, the psychology behind why we so easily blame others for problems is that we believe: If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll never change it. Therefore, I have to make you see it.
We believe that if we could only point out to our partner what they’re doing wrong, there’d be hope that something would change. Otherwise, we believe, nothing will change.
If only we can get our partner to see what their drinking is doing to us…
If only we can get our partner to see how much their affair hurt us to the core…
If only we can get our partner to see how dangerous it is for them to spend so much money we don’t have…
…Then they’ll understand and “see” what they’re doing and change it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, because the other part of the psychology of blame is that it causes the person we’re blaming to get defensive.They can’t own their behavior because when you’re blaming and shaming them, their focus is on defending their behavior, making excuses, or deflecting blame onto you or others.
This is why blaming your partner or shaming them into “owning” their part of the intrapersonal problem is not just ineffective, it’s counterproductive.
It can cause you and your partner to stonewall, lash out, or withdraw.
It doesn’t get you what you want, which is for your partner to own their issue and do the personal work it takes to solve it for the sake of your relationship.
So, if blaming or shaming won’t inspire your partner to make changes, what will? You can’t just sit there and say nothing, right?
To answer that, you’ll have to find out what’s behind your statement of blame.
Not only does blame put your partner on the defensive, but it also can make your partner confused about what it is you want them TO DO.
Saying, “I hate it when you drink,” doesn’t tell your partner what specific ACTION they can take to repair what’s wrong in the relationship. They may wonder, do you want them to never drink at all, not even with dinner or in social situations? What is it exactly that’s problematic about their drinking? They’re confused and you’re frustrated.
Blaming doesn’t tell your partner specifically WHAT YOU WANT. Neither do statements like these:
I don’t feel we’re as close as we used to be.
I do everything around here and you don’t care.
You’re spending too much time on social media / your hobbies.
You’re so withdrawn. It’s as if you don’t love me anymore.
Your partner can’t anticipate your needs or read your mind.
That’s why you have to figure out the exact desire behind the blame, and then be able to express that in a way your partner will hear, acknowledge, and understand, AND be inspired to take action to own their part of the issue.
When you and your partner are on opposite sides of an issue because you’re blaming and they’re defensive, it can put a lot of tension on your relationship.
Think of your relationship like a rubber band, where you’re pulling on the band in one direction with blame and your partner is pulling on the other end with defensiveness. The rubber band is taut and likely to snap. Just like your relationship!
However, if you can understand yourself and what your desire is, and you can communicate that desire to your partner in a way that is agreeable to your partner, you can “come closer together” and the tension in the rubber band will relax.
That’s how couples in happy relationships can still have about 10 problems at any given time and not let the problems get in the way of closeness, tenderness, and affection.
Happy couples understand each other and know how to communicate their needs and desires in a way that brings them closer, versus tearing them apart.
Is there a way to learn these skills? There is!
That’s what my video program, Wake Up In A New Marriage is all about.
It will show you how to turn problems into opportunities for greater closeness, instead of opportunities for blame and contentiousness.
In this program, you’ll learn exactly how to phrase your desires in a way that eliminates blame and shame and can actually inspire your partner to own their issue.
You’ll also learn the science-based reasons behind why you haven’t been able to talk to your partner about your issues effectively in the past. For example, you’ll learn the common phrase that shuts down communication if you’re a woman trying to discuss things with a man.
Class 3 of the program is all about how to use what you already know about your partner to understand them better, so you can lessen anxiety and conflict within your relationship. You’ll discover what the #1 predictor of longevity is in a relationship and why staying open to your partner’s requests or feedback can turn your relationship around virtually overnight.
In Class 3, you’ll also learn about the impact of one of the most contentious issues in relationships: financial stress and spending beyond your means. You’ll hear real-life accounts of couples who were on both sides of this issue, which may help you empathize better with your partner if this is an issue in your relationship, too.
At the end of Class 5, you’ll get an exercise that will help you break the ice around difficult issues in a way that honors your understanding of yourself and your partner.
You can start watching now and get all these skills and tools, risk-free, here:Get More Understanding
You have to know: even the best relationships have ups and downs.
Research says that without the tough times, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn more about yourself, your partner, or the strength of your relationship.
It’s what you do in the tough, or down times, that makes all the difference in the long-term success of your relationship. Let me show you how to turn conflicts into opportunities for better connection and intimacy.
May you have an extraordinary day,
P.S. How can you discuss difficult or touchy topics with your partner without it ending up in a name-calling, criticizing, nasty argument?
Good communication is more than just the words you use. It’s also how you use body language, posture, and the actions you take after the argument. In Class 5 of my video program, Wake Up In A New Marriage, you’ll learn how to improve communication between you and your partner with a more HOLISTIC approach:Learn More