When you stop blaming the other person for what's wrong in a relationship, it's easy to start pointing the finger at yourself. But the key to success is to find a third position, where you take responsibility for your share of the problems in a constructive and caring way. Here's a guide:
|Blaming yourself||Taking personal responsibility|
|What you tell yourself|
"He's such a jerk." "It's all his fault." "She's got no right to feel that way."
"It's all my fault. I'm no good. Things are hopeless."
"I'll try to identify the errors I've made so I can learn from them and take steps to help resolve the conflict."
Angry, resentful, irritated, frustrated, hurt
Guilty, ashamed, inferior, anxious, hopeless
Conscientious, curious (mixed with a healthy sadness and concern), and, if appropriate, remorseful
|How you communicate|
You argue, insisting he or she is wrong.
You withdraw and refuse to engage your partner.
You listen and try to find some truth in your partner's point of view. You share your feelings with tact and respect.
|What this leads to|
Endless fighting, bitterness
Isolation, depression, loneliness
Resolution of conflict, greater intimacy, trust, satisfaction
Adapted from Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work, by David D. Burns, MD. Copyright © David D. Burns, 2008. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Dr. Burns shares the one secret that will bring you closer to your spouse