“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons or the wind, but you can change yourself.” ~ Jim Rohn
Struggling relationships often slip into a blame-game: he said versus she said or it’s not my fault, it’s yours. And it’s true that we tend to take out our negative feelings on those closest to us — which is not always fair.
There are many things that can go awry in a relationship; many things you can peg on the troubles between the two of you. But these are not them. These are the things you have to own yourself.
The Fact That You Can’t Handle Yourself
Regulating your moods, anxiety, anger, voice and physicality is an inside job — it’s something each of us has to do for ourselves. While it’s true that a difficult relationship can provoke us into uncharacteristic or dysfunctional behaviour, we need to own our own actions. We all need to work continually on our emotional management skills. Above all, when you can’t control yourself, don’t target your partner. That’s abuse.
Your Personal Life Choices
I worked with a man who resented his choices in life — his career, the friends he’d made, the long list of things he hadn’t done. His wife was on the list too, but she was taking the blame for all of it. The life you’ve chosen to lead cannot all be dumped on your partner. Accept your own choices to date and know that you can do things differently from now on — and it’s okay to ask for help to do so.
Your Extreme Defensiveness
Perhaps you had a hyper-critical parent? Perhaps you have low self-belief? Perhaps you’ve been in a toxic relationship? Or never felt good enough for anyone? Those things could be valid, depending on your history, but that’s no reason to flare up at your partner at the tiniest provocation. Be mad at your mother or father if you must but leave your partner alone.
Bringing Up the Past When Fighting
Many people use a fight as an excuse to rip open an old wound that should have been laid to rest. This is both unfair and dangerous to your relationship. When you fight, keep it current. If you’re mad about your partner’s failure to do the dishes tonight, stay with the dishes. Stay with tonight. Don’t hook every misdemeanour to the past events. That’s asking for trouble that never ends.
Your Overall Dissatisfaction/Unhappiness with Your Life
So you’re unhappy? Identify and unpack the true reason for your misery. Is it really all about your relationship? Often it’s not — it’s only part of the package. It’s okay to despise where you’re at in life (because it can be a catalyst for change) but you need to know your misery is very hard to live with. Maybe you need to change your job or eliminate a bad habit or move away from a group of friends or try a new activity or get more creative? There are lots of little things you can do to make yourself feel better. Pick one and start today — for everyone’s sake.
Your Unmanaged Addictions
Alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, food, work, shopping or anything else that has you nailed up against a wall. These issues are yours. If you’re lucky enough to have a loving partner they’ll support you while you work on them. If you refuse to do that, don’t expect them to stay.