With the recent US election results, many people are feeling very disappointed, because they did not get the result they wanted. There is a lot of disharmony between friends, family members and strangers who do not share the same political opinions or values. For those who did not get the result they wanted, there are feelings of injustice, fear and uncertainty. These feelings are all natural and completely understandable.
But one of the strongest feelings for a lot of people, that really stands out at the moment, is helplessness – a sense of not being in control of what now happens to them.
What does this have to do with relationships?
So often in relationships I notice how couples experience the same feelings. Many couples complain about the unhappy state of their relationship, blaming each-other’s behaviour, or family pressures, work commitments, childcare issues, or any number of external circumstances. When these couples feel that they are at the mercy of their partner’s behaviour, or external factors beyond their control, they feel helpless.
However, something that’s really important to remember is that it’s not our partner’s behaviour, or these external factors, that control us.
If you blame your partner, or external factors for the issues in your relationship, you are essentially not taking responsibility for your part in your relationship issues. You take on a victim role. This helps neither of you. It also means that you relinquish control of your own emotions to your partner or these external factors, leading to feelings of helplessness.
When Sue* and Tim* came to see me, they failed to see eye to eye on many things. Sue blamed their issues on Tim for withdrawing from her, and not communicating as she would like.
With relationship coaching I help them both to realise that in each taking responsibility for their part in the issues, they could begin to transform their relationship.
Sue realised that if Tim felt criticised by her, then he would withdraw and not communicate.
But by discussing her issues with Tim in a more constructive way instead, concentrating on her feelings about his behaviour rather than criticising his behaviour itself, Sue learnt that she yielded a very different response from him. Tim began to understand why certain things bothered her, and adapt his behaviour accordingly.
In taking control of the situation by taking responsibility for the way she spoke to Tim, Sue managed to turn the situation around rather, than feeling despairing about Tim’s stonewalling.
You may not be able to control a political decision, your partner’s behaviour, or circumstances that are outside of your sphere of influence. However, you can decide your own response to these challenges. And in controlling your own response to these challenges, you can influence those around you, including your partner.
And when you demonstrate to your partner that you were taking responsibility for your part in your relationship issues, you are setting them an example. You will be able to influence them in a positive way, so that you can start to get the relationship that you want.
Sometimes it can feel easier to blame your partner for your feelings or the issues in your relationship, because to accept the fact that you have some responsibility and control of the situation requires you to take on a different perspective. This is not always easy to do.
In order to think about what it means to take on a different perspective in your relationship, consider the following phrases, alongside their possible alternatives: –
- “He never listens” versus “I wonder if I can communicate more clearly?”
- “I’m fed up with never having help with the domestic chores” versus “I wonder if I can get my partner to help me more?”
- “She is so selfish” versus “I wonder how I can make sure my needs are met in this relationship?”
- “I wish we were more intimate” versus “What can I do today to show my partner how much I love them?”
- “I wish she was more sexually adventurous” versus “How can I help her feel sexually confident?”
These subtle reframes are so powerful because they shift you from taking on a victim mentality, to actually taking control of creating the relationship that you want.
The response from your partner may well be a positive one. But even if not, at least you are asking yourself the right questions, which will help you evaluate what you want from your relationship and whether your relationship is meeting your needs.
As part of nature, we have an inmate need to feel in control of the major areas of our lives. It is hard-wired in us as part of our survival instinct, and an ability to protect ourselves from danger.
That’s why when we feel out of control it feels so disheartening, frightening even, and we tend to blame our partner’s as a way of discharging our negative emotions.
By realising that you have more control than you actually think, you can start to gain the best from your relationship.
If you would like my help in order to improve your relationship, think about how you can get your needs met in your relationship, and be the driver behind getting the relationship you want, then why not join me on my Facebook Livestream this Friday 11th November at 7 PM? This is an opportunity for you to ask me your relationship questions and receive my response live!
Join me live – Friday 11 November 2016 at 7pm UK time by visiting my Facebook Page or by clicking on the following link:-
Deepening your connection with Nature 🙂
*Confidentiality is always protected. Therefore case studies are fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.