“I don’t know if this is working anymore.”
Relationships can be rough, and that means you’ve likely had this conversation before. In my case, my fiancée and I have had it many times. It’s almost unavoidable when you spend so much of your time with one person.
The problems will have started simmering months before. Things seem to have gotten a little flat. The chemistry between you has lost its spark. You don’t talk to each other as much as you should. The intimacy has taken a back seat, and even when it happens, things don’t feel like they’re firing on all cylinders. It’s like a fireworks display without the bang.
Then one day, it boils over and all hell breaks loose.
You’ll tell her that you’re fed up feeling unsatisfied. She’ll tell you that you don’t make her feel comfortable anymore. She’ll tell you that you don’t say anything nice anymore. You’ll call her a hypocrite and tell her she does the same. Things get said that really hurt the other person. It ends in tears, and the possibility that the whole damn thing is about to go up in a ball of flames.
When the dust settles, you’ll probably call it a truce. Write it off as a stupid argument. You make up with some ice cream and exercise in the bedroom. All is forgotten until the next time. And there will be a next time. See, the problem is that the argument isn’t solving anything because each of you believe that the blame falls on the other person.
I’m not happy because you do this.
I’m not happy because you say this.
I’m not happy because you make me feel like this.
I used to feel this way too. I assumed that any unhappiness I experienced in our relationship was down to something my partner was doing. The funny thing is, though, that at the end of any argument we had, I seemed to be in the wrong a lot.
One day it dawned on me: When we are having problems, I shouldn’t be looking to point the blame outwards.
I need to look inwards first.
The way you interact with each other will have a huge impact on the quality of your relationship. The saying “treat others as you want to be treated” rings true here. How you treat your partner will influence how they treat you.
So when you find yourself on the receiving end of that look that shouts, “Fuck you and die,” have you ever stopped to think why? There’s a high chance it’s because you put them in that mood.
When it seems your partner has suddenly become mute around you, have you ever considered it’s maybe because you don’t offer a good ear to listen to them?
When they don’t want to be intimate with you, have you ever thought that maybe you’re not making them feel like they want to be close to you?
Relationships are give and take. You only get out of it what you put into it. If your relationship is hitting a bump in the road, perhaps you need to get hold of the steering wheel and change direction.
Taking the blame means accepting that you’re wrong, and that’s a humbling experience. It takes courage to take the blame.
But you don’t improve anything by blaming someone else. You each need to be able to take responsibility for your shortcomings and set out how you can fix them.
If you’re unable to do this, your relationship is doomed to fail.
When you begin to take the time to look at your problems from the perspective of you being the one to blame, before considering how the other person is at fault, you may find the solutions are right in front of your eyes.
I’m not happy because I do this.
I’m not happy because I say this.
I’m not happy because I make them feel like this.
The best way to improve a relationship is by working on your own flaws and taking the hard steps of changing yourself, rather than try to change someone else. When you make this realisation, you’ll develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding, and when things go south, you’ll be able to confidently say, “I don’t think this is working anymore, but I’m willing to change to try and fix it.”