Do you see a pattern in your relationship that you don’t like? Is there something that happens which is predictable and leaves you frustrated, hurt or angry? If so, there is something you can do about it! You are fortunate to be able to look at the past and see exactly where the problem lies. So far, so good. Now for the challenging part . . .
If this is a pattern, it means that whatever you are doing to solve the problem isn’t working. Here are some potential strategies you may have tried: complaining, nagging, yelling, cursing, crying, stomping out, avoiding the topic, giving your partner the silent treatment, sulking or some other form of punishment. None of these are effective long-term strategies. Even repetitive discussions can sometimes go nowhere except into pseudo-agreements that never pan out into actual behavior. The reason these strategies fail is that they are focused on trying to change the other person.
If your partner is unable or unwilling to change, and you are unhappy, the best option is to change your own behavior. Whatever you need in that unhappy situation, you will need to find for yourself. Ask yourself this important question:
Do I really NEED it? Is it necessary for my survival (or is it a preference, or more to feed my ego/sense of self)?
- If you answered “yes”, know that you are not a victim. Look at how else you can get your need met. For example, how could I change my belief system or find another way to make myself happy? True needs should be self-met as much as possible. What is another source for this need? This is how we avoid becoming a dependent instead of a partner.
- If you answered “no”, and this is a preference, know that your unmet preference may be inconvenient or disappointing, but will not affect your survival. Try to remember all the other ways your partner does meet your preferences.
- If you answered “no”, and this desire is really about feeding your sense of self, realize that it is best to stop putting your sense of self into what your partner does or does not do for you. What others do is not a reflection of our worth, lovableness, or any other aspect of our self.
Discovering and taking care of our own needs makes us responsible and attractive partners. You have the POWER to break out of unsatisfying patterns in relationships.