I got a call from a potential client the other day. She definitely was looking for relationship help. She has a daughter who is in her twenties with a small child. No baby daddy on the scene. The issue is that the mother says the daughter is always angry with her and she wants to get to the bottom of it. Looking at the problem from only her side, gives a one-sided view. Hoping for the best, my first question was:
“Is your daughter willing to come in with you?” Willingness is the key to opening to change.
First we have to be willing to look at an issue and determine that change might be possible and positive. Then, we have to be willing to step in and look at what those changes might be. That’s when real willingness kicks in: we have to decide if we are willing to make the changes!
When couples come into my office, there is often an underlying current coming from both parties: if only the other would change, everything would be fine. Problem with that is that they are not planning to participate in the process of change, only the expected result. My task becomes opening the conversation to a shared interest in improving the relationship and resolving relationship problems…together.
You may have heard that old joke:
How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Just one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.
Some couples come for counseling, hoping their partner will be that light bulb! In some cases, it is actually true that one person is causing more of the problems, on the surface level. However, it takes two to tango! If a partner pushes buttons because they know where they are and sets the pattern in motion, they are just as responsible for the difficulties as the one with the pattern.
Oh, how many folks don’t want that to be so! Having someone to blame for why your relationship isn’t work is just so convenient. And, some other people are not very good at listening to us when we are not in blame mode. It’s so much easier to listen to your story and say things like, ” You don’t have to put up with that!” or “You deserve better.” or “Walk away, dude.” than it is to sit with someone who is looking to understand their part in the interactions that distress them most.
That’s where I often come in. Potential clients call when they are really ready for a solution. Usually, they are at the end of their tethers and know that something…or someone…has to change. When we work through relationship issues with compassion for ourselves and others, as well as with clear, communicated boundaries and values, we can resolve relationship problems.
That’s why the tagline for my work is : Engage Lovingly. Disengage Peacefully. Either way, the relationship problems will be resolved and you’ll get the relationship help you are looking for!