Good Relationships Lesson 1: Deal With One Person's Crap At A Time

Best Relationship Advice Ever Part 1: One Freakout At A Time

This Friday is my wedding anniversary (16 years – yikes!). And Thursday is Valentine’s Day – which to me is about all relationships, not just romantic ones.

Which makes it a good week to think about relationship stuff.

My relationships – romantic, family, friends – are a huge part of my life. They teach me so much about life and people and myself. They support me and allow me to support others. They let me express love and feel loved. I would be lost without the people closest to me.

So I thought that this week I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the years about relationships.

These lessons have completely changed the way I relate to my loved ones. I now enjoy much happier, better relationships.

I hope these lessons* are helpful to you, too.

*These are lessons for garden-variety relationship improvement. If you have an orchard of relationship woes then please consider professional help.

Good Relationships Lesson #1:
Deal With One Person’s Stuff At A Time

Relationships are easy when no one is upset and no feelings are hurt.

It’s when A forgets the dry cleaning again, and B calls A lazy and inconsiderate, that the trouble starts.

A is stuck on the repeatedly forgotten dry cleaning. B can’t believe they’ve been called unfair names over such a trivial thing.

And as long as each person nurses their respective slights, nothing can be healed.

So how do you get past this kind of stalemate?

The only way through is for one person to deal with the other person’s stuff first.

A has to say, ‘I’m upset about the dry cleaning, but we can come back to that. Let’s talk about why you’re upset/angry.’

And then A has to genuinely listen to B’s concerns and address B’s feelings. Most likely A’s frustration has made them speak harshly, and A can apologize for that.

Even while feeling hurt and angry about their own stuff. 

Or B has to make an effort to understand why A is upset over the dry cleaning, apologize, and only then bring up the unfair names.

Yep, even while feeling hurt and angry about their own stuff. 

Once one person’s feelings have been healed, they’ll feel far more generous about dealing with the other person’s stuff. Until they do, they’ll be resistant.

Let me guess. You’re thinking, Huh – if only my partner would read this and deal with my concerns first, then our relationship would improve.

Well, here’s a nasty little reality check for you…

Relationship Reality Check:
You Can’t Change Them – You Can Only Change Yourself

The only way you will ever get someone to change their behavior is by changing your own.

They will change only if they want to, not because you want them too. Your wanting them to change is more likely to make them dig in their heels than get them walking in the direction you want.

But if you act differently, then you’ll break the pattern, start a new dynamic, shake things up. Your partner will have a whole new set of options open up for them. Voila – new behavior.

Maybe not exactly what you want, but something different to explore.

So, back to lesson 1.

Lesson #1: What I’ve Learned About Relationships

  • Regardless of whether you’re A or B, if you’re both upset and you want things to improve then you need to be the one to deal with the other person’s stuff first.
  • You can rest assured that once you deal with their stuff, they will deal with your stuff. The fact that you have upset them means they care. That’s a good thing.
  • Don’t get hung up on who’s being the bigger person. If you’re reading this then maybe you know more, so be prepared to do more.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m insane?

If you don’t think I’m insane then come back tomorrow for Lesson 2. 🙂

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