What is the Real Thing?

Written by:  Steve Hartline

So often we coach couples who are in crisis about the thing that is happening right now. The battle-lines are drawn. This is the hill both parties are willing to die for.

And then….

It turns out that this issue is not the issue at all. This is just what is happening in their lives, right now. The bigger issue is something that happened long ago or this is just a symptom of a greater problem.

So often we say we forgive our partner. Sometimes we go as far as saying, “It is forgotten”. And then it happens again. Have you really put it behind you or is this the final straw?

Now, there is a difference between serial offences and “I forgot to put the toilet seat down twice…ok, three times”.  So, after you dry your bottom off, do you give an ultimatum or did you really let it go?

What is this really about?

Does it feel like a lack of respect? Where else do you feel disrespected in this relationship? “Tell me more.” What have you been silent about that could be adding pent up frustration? Are you saving up and keeping track of transgressions only to unleash a “shock and awe” on your partner?

What is this really about?

Many times, we don’t know what the problem is in that moment. We just know that we are really uncomfortable and it has to be our partner’s fault. “Of course, they are doing this to me on purpose”. Now your partner must pay with an equal amount of discomfort.

What is this really about?

Best Tips:

  • Be curious about what the bigger picture is.
  • Take accountability for your part in the situation.
  • Clarify your partner’s expectations. What is important about this for you?
  • Remember that conflicts need boundaries. Set them when you are not triggered.
  • Deal with what is only happening right now instead of drudging up the past over and over again. Let it go and move on.

Get clear on what is the real thing and let go of the rest.


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