Intimate relationships bring meaning and purpose to our lives, but they are not easy. When difficulties emerge within our relationship, we often focus all of our energy on analyzing our partner’s actions or behaviors instead of confronting ourselves. By doing this, we overlook the fact that understanding our own role in our relationship dynamic is what ultimately allows us to grow as an individual while simultaneously strengthening the relationship itself. For example, spending time considering every possible meaning behind your partner’s texts or what they said in an argument means that you are trying to fill in the blanks which are not yours to fill in. What you should be focusing your energy on is looking at what was behind your own reaction and responses. It is this insight that will not only help you develop a stronger sense of self, but by not putting the blame on your partner, it will also enhance the strength, resilience, and meaningfulness of your bond.
Often times, we clearly see our partner’s contribution to our relationship problems, but we remain unaware of our own. Therefore, our energy is directed towards analyzing our partner instead of focusing this energy on looking at ourselves. This is not unusual nor is it unexpected, because looking at ourselves can be painful. The notion of “pain for growth” may sound cliché, but if growth and change were truly easy, then deeply passionate and enduring intimate relationships would be the norm as opposed to the exception. The reality, however, is that intrapersonal and interpersonal growth is a challenging process that requires us to look at ourselves and confront those issues that we often attribute to our partners.
One reason making this shift is so difficult is that we are prone to trying to control others as opposed to controlling ourselves. From this position it is impossible to confront issues within our intimate relationships. That is why the first step is to get what you want from yourself, as opposed to focusing on how to get your partner “in line”. Though slightly paradoxical, this in turn allows you to look at your relationship and your partner from a new and different perspective. By focusing on the self you want to bring to your relationship, you will become more willing to face the challenges within your relationship constructively, as opposed to wasting your energy overanalyzing or blaming your partner.
If you are considering couples’ therapy, please get in touch with me to learn more about the services that I offer to Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and the greater South Bay area.