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Changing the Dynamic
CAN A RELATIONSHIP BE "FIXED" IF ONLY ONE PERSON SEEKS COUNSELING?
YES. Most relationships challenged by COMMUNICATION issues can be improved and or " fixed." Ideally, it's more desirable to have both parties participate. However, one person can change the dynamic of a relationship. Relationships involving abuse issues are a more complex challenge, usually requiring both parties to participate.
HOW CAN YOU FIX A RELATIONSHIP IF YOUR PARTNER WON'T PARTICIPATE?
Even though your partner refuses to see a counselor, is in denial or insists it's all your fault, if YOU change your behavior, your partner will change theirs. We realize we are stuck in a stagnated behavioral pattern, if / when the same core argument results no matter the issue. Even though your partner may try to draw you back into the old pattern, if you CONTROL YOUR EGO, resisting the temptation to respond to the, I'M RIGHT AND YOUR WRONG bait, ultimately your partner will change their response and behavior.
PROBLEM SOLVING INSTEAD OF BEING RIGHT OR WRONG
Insisting our point of view IS right and our partner is wrong results in a deadlock, denying us the flexibility we need to change the negative dynamic. Susan insists that Bill doesn't listen to her. She feels unappreciated and accuses him of not valuing her sacrifices / contribution to the marriage. She told Bill six weeks prior to her appointment that she needed him to watch the kids on a Saturday. She reminded him the Monday before, as well as, several times that week. Saturday her son developed a fever. Her husband emerged from the bedroom in his work clothes. ONCE AGAIN he had FAILED to honor her time and his word. Irritated, her voice took on an accusatory tone justifying her position. She issued her demand stating he would have to stay home with Jimmy. Bill's ego responded, "Maybe you need to change your plans and stay home with him." In moments, they had slipped into their negative communication pattern.
A DIFFERENT RESPONSE - A DIFFERENT OUTCOME
When Susan realized Bill had forgotten, despite her multiple reminders, she controlled herself and constructively appealed to him. "Bill, I need your help. Jimmy has developed a fever. I made this appointment weeks ago. If I cancel at the last minute I will have to pay for the appointment. Would you mind staying with Jimmy so I can keep my appointment. I will get home as soon as possible." Not many of us respond well to angry ultimatums. We do, however, respond to a plea for help or a chance to problem solve. Men respond to the opportunity to "fix" a problem; it's the way their mind works. Bill said, "I'm sorry I forgot, I had some things come up at work. If you could get back as soon as you can I would appreciate it."
Be thoughtful and kind, especially when you feel you are right.