It Really Is All About You

When couples are in conflict there is a tendency to blame and point fingers. When things go from bad to worse, neither party wants to own up to their part in the disintegration of the relationship. When there’s a relationship injury or breach of trust it’s easy to say,” He/she did (or is doing) this terrible thing, it’s their fault we’re in crisis“. I’ll bet it sounds awfully familiar to some of you reading this right now.  The truth is, each partner in the relationship carries some responsibility for the problems in the relationship. As they say, “It takes two to Tango”, it also takes two to make a couple and two to break one as well. 

When I’m doing my intake process and finding out about a couple in distress there can be a lot of back and forth between the couple. Each person is fighting to be heard and some come to counseling because they want me to tell them they’re right and their partner is wrong. Instead, I do my best to filter through the noise and find the cause and the issues that are at the heart of their conflict. What it so often boils down to is, both parties want to blame the other partner and don’t want to take responsibility for their contributions to the trouble they’re experiencing. Playing the victim can become a habit; one that is unproductive and blocks progress towards successful resolution of the issues. It’s a habit and a mindset that can also follow you from relationship to relationship and set you up for failure in subsequent partnerships.

No matter the cause of the conflict, taking responsibility for your part in the problem is a huge step towards repairing your lives. Both partners bear equal responsibility in creating and escalating conflict and for resolving and repairing the problems they created. I’m not saying you should blame yourself, but you definitely should dissect and examine this and own your part in it. This is the only way, with true authenticity and vulnerability, that you can mend the relationship and have hope for a better future together

Instead of blaming and shaming your partner, look within. Look at what you can control, not the other person, but yourself. What is it that you can work on in your own heart and mind that will make you a better person and partner?  This is where counseling can be invaluable to you. Finding out on the deeper levels what really IS about you, and what you can do about it.  Taking responsibility for your own success or failure in your relationship and your life as a whole is a huge first step on a journey towards self-awareness and self-improvement. 

I have to warn you, it’s not going to be fun, and it’s not going to be pretty. The ugly dark truths of our shortcomings have often been lurking in our lives for a very long time, and it’s no easy task to bring them out into the light of day and look at (and own) them.  It takes courage and a great deal of motivation to do this inner work on ourselves. I can promise you, however, that it will be worth it. If you are willing to do this work, there’s a distinct possibility that your partner may be inspired to do the same.  If you both do it separately and together, the results will be dramatic. 

Taking responsibility for your part in relationship problems (and solutions) is a necessary part of repairing your relationship with your partner. Dig deep, work hard, and be willing to face uncomfortable feelings and revelations about yourself and your behavior. This is the path to success and happiness in life and love.


About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.