In 2023 I invite you to challenge your thoughts about your “issues” in your intimate relationships. What if I told you that you don’t have as many problems as you think you do?
You should maybe talk less about your problems or, at the very least, discuss them when you’re in a positive state of mind. When I tell my clients not to work on their problems, they look at me like I am nuts.
I am trying to tell them to work on themselves first and then see how this “problem” or issue affects them based on their feelings and perceptions. Your so-called problems appear when certain conditions are present, such as an insecure state of mind. Or even your spouse unintentionally is poking at your childhood wound or gremlin. Our relationship problems are issues that trigger emotional reactions from both partners.
If our emotional reactions did not exist or get triggered, we would have minimal conflict. I like to use the example of someone having a sore on their arm.
The last thing you would do is “poke” at the sore. You would realize it needed to be treated with care, to be babied. The same is true with your so-called relationship problems.
The thoughts around these problems create emotional reactions because they touch upon our personal sore spots.
To treat an emotional sore spot, you need to create a secure environment where the problem can heal. Often you need to work on yourself with a therapist or coach and not point the finger at your partner. For every problem, there is a solution. Often there are many solutions. As a coach, these solutions may be evident to me, but to the dispassionate observer, they cannot see any solutions since their mind is so clouded.
When you have handled your issues about why the problem came up in the first place, you have created a secure environment where the problem can heal. Once you realize how your insecurities undermine the problem-solving process, you will have fewer unproductive discussions—and definitely less fighting!
There are two basic human thought processes; we are in problem mode or solution mode. The problem mode is tedious and time-consuming.
You are filled with your childhood insecurities and old resentments regarding your partner’s past behaviors. When you are stuck in this mode, you rehash old issues, analyze everything, and defend your position to the end. When a couple tries to discuss in this mode and solve the problem, they will be met with much resistance from their partner.
The solution mode is much more effective. We reflect, either on our own or with a coach/therapist, why we are having these uneasy feelings in the first place. How much of it is our own ‘STUFF’ and has little to do with the issue we are struggling with? We reflect, look and listen. When we do this, we begin to have insights, hope, and exhilaration. Couples feel much closer and more united when they use the solution mode.
Don’t get stuck in your problems since they are like mental quicksand. The more involved you get in problem mode, you will get stuck.
It’s impossible to solve another person’s problems, so please don’t even try. Provide them a safe space to share when they are ready, and simply listen and validate. There is an obvious answer to every problem, but being too close to your issues makes it impossible to figure it out. Take the time to invest in yourself. To learn your own triggers and you will transcend not only your intimate relationships but all your relationships across