When I recently read this article by relationship counsellor Clinton Power I couldn’t help but smirk a little because until quite recently, I was plenty guilty of pretty much every single losing strategy that he named.
Every. Single. One.
If anyone had have asked if there were underlying issues in my relationship that may well eventually prove insurmountable, I would totally have pointed fingers. Not at me. At the other person in my relationship… ie, that cute dude in my bed.
I wouldn’t have accepted responsibility for any of the ongoing issues in my relationship, because I’m an awesome wife.
Just ask me.
The thing is, I’m not the only person in the relationship, and maybe not everyone sees my desire to have things my own way, or need for controlling stuff as awesome, or imperative, as I do.
After some serious soul searching, and a chat here and there with Clinton over the past few months, I can say the best place to begin working on your relationship is in your very own shoes. Mostly because your partner’s shoes probably don’t fit, or smell funny, but also because it goes back to the old adage –
You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself.
1. Being Right
Clinton suggests that sorting out differences in a relationship is not a matter of who is right or wrong. You may well be right according to your value system without taking into account the values of your partner.
Who doesn’t love to be right, right? Especially, when you are friggin’ right, thank you very much.
However, part of working together as a team is endeavouring to see the situation from someone else’s point. If you’re really busy being right, you’re no longer listening to your partner. Of course, there’s the fact that you are right, but it is possible that……sharp intake……you are both right.
2. Controlling Your Partner
Contrary to popular opinion, people really don’t like to be controlled. The reality is that being a control freak bossy pants is never a successful strategy and is likely to foster resentment and mistrust.
One of Mister H’s pet peeves is when I ask him to do something and then I hassle for it to be done immediately. How bloody hard is it to just do what I want, when I want it, right?
It’s really hard for me to accept that he has other pressing things on his To Do list (browse the web, cut his toenails) and that I need my request to go into the queue.
Accepting this is pretty difficult for a control freak, but learning to take a chill pill will only benefit your relationship in the long run.
Clinton even mentions stuff like indirect controlling – AKA manipulation. Manipulating people is incredibly unhealthy for all parties involved. The only form of manipulation you should do on your partner is christmas present hints, and hand jobs.
3. Unbridled Self-Expression
Ahem. Yes, well…. I may happen to know someone who has a very large mouth and a penchant for self-expression. Sometimes that makes me the most popular person in the room, and other times I make people cry and feel like an arsehole for days.
Clinton believes honesty is not always your best policy, particularly if it leads to you hurting your partner through you ‘speaking your truth’. ‘Just being honest’ doesn’t really cut it if you’re hurting people’s feelings. Perhaps, instead, go for ‘just being kind’…. unless you’re talking about nasal hair. Then your partner needs to just deal with that shit.
He pissed me off, so I’m not going to do his washing…… no, wait, I am going to do his washing but I’m throwing a red sock in his whites.
He left his shoes in the lounge, so I’m going to set them alight using his matches collection (hypothetical, although I did once know a splitting couple and he set her clothes on fire with her matches collection after she slashed his car tyres).
An eye for an eye, and everyone goes blind. That’s not really being very mature, is it? It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re pissed but it only makes matters worse. Being the bigger man is actually more fulfilling than payback.
Unless it’s a Dutch oven. Then retaliation is the only way.
No one likes being shut out. Withdrawing can often be worse than all of the yelling and screaming because once the wall comes up it’s almost impossible to get past an issue.
Clinton believes that withdrawal can mean a number of things. It may be that you are giving up, using it in a passive aggressive manner for retaliation or maybe signalling that you don’t wish to invest any further energy in the relationship.
You must keep talking. The only way to keep your relationship on track to to keep communicating in a healthy fashion. If you’re struggling to do that, then maybe seek a relationship counsellor to help to give you tools to create a healthy and life long relationship.
If you find that you’re employing some or all of these losing strategies, maybe you need to have a little look at what’s going on in your relationship.
If you need help on that front, I reckon talking to a counsellor is brilliant. You need to find the right one for you, but they are as valuable as a great hairdresser or gynocologist. Sometimes a mediator is all you need to get through the shitty issues so you can leave them behind and make way for new shitty issues…. because you can bet there will always be new ones, but it’s just about how you deal with them.
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