That's not the question you should ask if you're working on resolving problems. Resolving a problem takes both parties and you should never focus on fixing your partner's problems or issues. You cannot fix their problems. You can only fix your own.
The first step is to make positive changes in us. If the thought that goes through your mind is 'why should I make the changes?' It's important to understand that when you take the initiative, you have the most to gain and you are setting the agenda.
That's right, you are taking control of the situation and you are directing how it is going to go. By acting in a more positive manner, making positive changes in yourself, you may inspire your partner to do the same. You may also be giving them no choice because you will not be fighting over the same issues. You can practice active listening and defuse arguments before they even occur.
You can listen to their viewpoint and while you may not agree with it, you are showing them that you do care. It's amazing how many little changes you can focus on that have a cumulative effect. One of the biggest mistakes we make is to assume we understand someone else's motivations. That we assume our partner did something and the reasons why they did it.
Those assumptions get us into trouble because they prevent us from hearing what our partner actually has to say. Sometimes, we can be so angry or so hurt, that we're not interested in fixing the problem. We just want to hurt the person that hurt us.
Those are not positive resolutions. They are human, but they are not positive.
We are all partial to our own points of view. We know how things affected us. We feel justified in our feelings. It's important to recognize that our partner likely feels the same way. So how can we achieve positive resolution?
- We start by assuming good intentions.
- We start by refusing to be drawn into a fight.
- We start by taking deep breaths, preventing our heart rate from climbing when we disagree.
- We start by practicing active listening.
- We start by validating that for every situation - there are two vital perspectives and perceptions: yours and theirs.
- We start by respecting that and understanding that truth is a matter of perception. That sometimes what is true for one person is not true for another.
- We start by expressing ourselves and not just assuming our partner is a mind reader.
It sounds simple, but it's not. To achieve all of these things, we have to start practicing them. We have to set aside our anger and sometimes, we're going to have to repeat ourselves. We have to really hear what our partner is saying and we have to acknowledge that they may also be right.
The biggest problem I've had to overcome in my marriage is that both of us feel like we need to be right. It's hard to be 'wrong.' But the fact is, sometimes we're both right. He has his point of view. I have mine. Our points of view are right. Our points of view are individual to ourselves.
Learn positive ways to resolve your problems together. Remember, focus on yourself and not 'changing' or 'fixing' your partner. Come up with a plan of action together. If you have real difficulty discussing an issue, write down your perspective and ask them to do the same. Take the time to read both. Highlight the areas where you agree and work from there.
It's true that we are the sum of our experiences. Sometimes, those experiences create a host of problems for us in our current relationships. It's important to recognize that and express it to our partners. If your partner responds to anger by delivering the silent treatment, but that drives you insane because that's what your dad did. Then you need to let them know that.