What would you say to a world where there are no relationship problems?
No fighting. No fussing. No drama.
Your personal relationships would flourish, family issues get eliminated, and your business operations would run as smooth as can be.
Picture the amount of drama and stress that would be reduced from your life. Think about how much more you could accomplish.
Well, you do live in that world.
Many just fail to see it that way. I know this from first hand experience. I used to view the intricacies of the relationships in my life as one of the largest sources of problems I had to deal with.
Not exactly an ideal way to see something that is so vital to one’s well being.
While it’s common the majority of relationships that you encounter tend to involve your love life, interpersonal relationships occur in a variety of different circumstances. At work, with your family, your friends, and even with yourself. We are surrounded by and involved in relationships in almost everything we do.
Since you experience so many connections and affiliations on any given day, it would seem to make sense that they could be the cause of some problems in your life, but they actually do not.
You see, the biggest myth about relationship problems is that they don’t even exist.
A Problem Has Many Faces
Lets face it, without the proper amount of respect, knowledge, and patience, relationships can be difficult to manage and participate in. One side or the other can end up feeling unheard, misunderstood, hurt, and ultimately wondering what is going on or where is this even going.
Nasty feelings like guilt, resentment, and anger can start to build up. You end up spending more time navigating the unknown and looking for answers than enjoying your time with each other and growing together. An alliance that should be a joy becomes more of a burden and chore.
It gets confusing, and with confusion come stress.
While something like stress cannot actually kill you itself, the physical and mental responses your body has, in response to it, potentially can. In addition to feeling tired, drained, and out of energy, your immune system can be adversely affected, causing you to be more susceptible to illness.
Not only does stress affect your physiology and mindset, it can affect those around you as well. Studies at the American Association of Pediatrics suggest that frequent levels of toxic stress can have a direct link in developmental delays and physical health problems of children.
Dealing with stress can be frustrating, and when we’re frustrated or upset, its easy to argue or pick a fight. Its not the most enjoyable way to spend an afternoon or evening, even though arguing in relationships can be a good thing, but it does happen. We may even be looking for it or expecting it if things happen to be going bad enough for us.
Think of arguing as just another avenue to express emotion. In the same way you’d give somebody a hug of appreciation, you can let a few provoking words or looks slip out to express your irritation.
There are a number of signs and indicators that something may be wrong and even though these all may sound like relationship problems, they’re not, and you’re about to find out why.
You + Me = Us?
No. You and me does not equal us.
It may appear to be that way, but a relationship is not some separate entity, governing and ruling the lives of two people. There is no such thing as a bad relationship, bad marriage, or a even good relationship or marriage.
You + Me = You + Me (Together)
Two or more individuals make up any relationship. In recognizing this, we see that we really just have people problems to deal with, not relationship problems.
What makes up a person? Beyond some genetics and carbon, we find thoughts, ideals, morals, personalities, and beliefs (to name a few). To put it simply, a person is defined by their behavior – how they think, feel, and act.
Now multiply that by two (or more when dealing with group dynamics), and you can see that the source behind many problems is the mixture of these separate qualities. Two different sets of beliefs can create disconnect between individuals, as well as two different kinds of thoughts, feelings, or actions.
When you starting seeing your relationships from this angle you have a starting point for finding extremely beneficial resolutions to almost any issue you come across.
But if you’ve ever been in a relationship you know how detrimental pointing fingers and blaming people can be. Sure, one side may not agree or see things the same as the other, but a resolution may never arise if we cast the problem and focus of an issue onto a person.
Instead we have to dig down a little more to get to the roots.
Focus On Issues Not Individuals
Healthy relationships can and only exist when individuals chose to be together and take part in a respectful and mutually beneficial way.
A lot of times couples find great difficulty in trying to change or blame the other person, when more (actually all) focus must be directed on identifying how the problem even exists and what the proper behavior would be on your end to either correct it, or do whats right.
In dealing with manageable people and concerns, a resolution of some sort can most likley occur or be found with a little effort on your part. How? You do this by attacking issues, not individuals.
In the old-school line of thinking any circumstance, disagreement, or problem would either fall upon him, her, or us.
“He doesnt see it the same way.”
“She can’t agree with me.”
“We just don’t get along.”
With the new-school approach, any unwanted situation or disagreement can be solved or overcome by pointing the attention on the issue itself.
“This view of (insert problem) is different than that view.”
“These two beliefs do not match up.”
“Expectations weren’t clearly defined and there is a mismatch somewhere.”
Yes, there are people behind these views and ideals, but whats more important are the reasons for having them. Why are things being seen this way, and not that way? What are the reasons for believing this is the best scenerio over the other?
If you spend more time concentrating on stripping the person away from the equation, and looking at the problem itself, you’ll find it much easier to discover the answers.
One great way to look at this is by remembering one of those old standardized test questions. You know, the “On Monday Sally leaves Chicago on a train traveling West at 60 miles per hour,” question.
Even though the problem would not exist without her, Sally is irrelevant to the answer.
You consider factors like her destination, speed, and rate of travel to get your answer.
But throw some emotion into the situation and things start to change. What if Sally is your wife? Well, then you start to see her and the problem in a different light.
See, if Sally could manage her time more wisely and wasn’t late all the time she could’ve left Chicago on Sunday instead of missing the train and having to catch the next one on Monday. ;)
Remember that its not about Sally – its about the solving of a problem.
Where To Implement Adjustments
In order to stay committed and focused on the problems rather than the person, there are a number areas you can make adjustments and corrections to. I’d like to share a few suggestions and ideas where I’ve found some success. I know with an open mind and a little discipline, you can, too.
Listening and Language
As a person you know how good it feels to be heard, so close your mouth for a little bit and open up your ears. Communication is huge. Its how you listen, how you speak, and you respond. Instead of listening with the intent of making your point next, listen with an open mind and the intent of truly getting what it is the other person is saying.
Empathy and Understanding
Its one thing to sit back, listen, and be aware of your own words. Its another to really feel and understand another persons emotions, feelings, and where they are coming from. Empathy is the act of really understanding ones state of mind and being appreciative and respectful of it.
Cooperation Over Compromise
When dealing with relationships and mutual benefit, two areas you want to avoid are sacrifice and compromise. Theres a big misconception that to compromise means to work together, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In a compromise somebody is forfeiting something (time, energy, or resources of some sort). This would be a Win-Lose situation. Instead, go for Win-Win, which is a result of cooperation.
Gratitude And Appreciation
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, there just isn’t going to be a solution or resolution to your problem, which is OK. The next best thing you can do is express your gratitude and appreciation. Be thankful for your partner and your own efforts. Just by putting in the effort and making it a point to try you’ve successfully reached one of the true signs of a mature and healthy relationship. Be thankful for that, in your words and your actions, and you will reap the benefits it has to offer.
I’d love to hear what you think… These principles all play a big part in determining our attitude, behavior, who we are as a partner– and more specifically, how we think and act. Its easy to get swept up in emotion and forget that there real issues and concerns that are hiding behind the surface. Professional or personal, what do you do to keep focused on the concerns, issues, and problems in your relationships? Leave your comment below.
Photo by Horia Varlan