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Relationships: Letting Go of Problem Solving

By Dr.Margaret Paul
September 23, 2008

If you are in a problematic relationship and you keep trying to solve the problems with your partner, this article is for you!

"We never seem to be able to solve any problems," Kaylee told me in a phone session. "Every time we sit down to solve a problem, we end up fighting. It doesn't really matter what it is about - it always ends up the same. Is this normal? Aren't couples supposed to be able to solve problems?"

"Kaylee, who usually initiates problem-solving talks?"

"I do."

"When you ask Hayden to talk with you about a problem, how does he usually react?"

"He usually rolls his eyes, but he sits down with me."

"Do you have any idea why he rolls his eyes?"

"Yeah. He doesn't want to have to change."

"So when you ask him to sit down with you to solve a problem, he knows that what you are really after is getting him to change, is that right?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"And then what happens?"

"Well, I tell him what is not working for me and what I think we should do about it and then we end up arguing."

"So, your intent in talking is to solve the problem by getting him to change, is that right?"

"Well, yeah! He is the one causing the problem for me!"

"Kaylee, as long as you believe that he is causing your unhappiness, you will continue to be unhappy. I have a suggestion for you to try. Instead of trying to get him to change so that you can feel better, try not talking about problems at all. Instead of talking with him, do an Inner Bonding process and open to learning about what you can do to solve the problem for yourself. Ask your inner guidance what YOU need to do differently to make yourself happy, rather than what HE needs to do differently to make you happy. After all, you are the only one you actually have control over.

"The reason you keep fighting about problem-solving is because you are trying to control him and he is resisting being controlled while trying to have control over getting you off his back. Neither of you are accepting that you don't have control over each other - only over yourselves. With both of you trying to control, you get stuck in power struggles with no way of resolving anything. But if you focus on what you can control - which is you - then you can learn what you need to do to take care of yourself in the face of whatever Hayden does. How does this sound to you?"

"I'm not sure how this will work. Let's say that I'm upset with Hayden for not calling me when he is going to be late for dinner. It doesn't seem to be to be such a big deal for him to call me, yet he consistently forgets. And you're right - I have no control over getting him to call me. What am I supposed to do?"

"What are you telling yourself that is upsetting you when he doesn't call?"

"That he doesn't care about me. That he has been in an accident. That he is having an affair."

"Then, of course, you feel upset because you are telling yourself things that you don't know to be true. What if you told yourself, 'Hayden is not calling me because he is overwhelmed with work, he is a forgetful person, and he is in resistance to being controlled by me. So I’m going to call a friend and go out to dinner. Or, I'm going to go to the gym whenever he is late. Or, I'm going to rent a movie and eat in front of the TV whenever he is late. Or, I'm going to go on the Inner Bonding member site and connect with others.' Would you still be so upset?"

"I don't think so! I'm going to try this. I feel better already!"


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