The Why and the What of Making Things Better in Your RelationshipA common piece of relationship advice I give to the couple whom I coach is to avoid concentrating on the topic of why things are so bad and concentrate on the what of what are we going to do about it.
This happens with so many couples and it gets them in trouble. The pop psychology of our culture has taught us that if can figure out the why of something then we can either fix it or it will just magically go away.
In relationships most bad things do not go away on their own. This is especially true when couples have drifted apart. It takes conscious attention and intention to get things back on track.
Let's take a look at the dangers of focusing on the why is this happening and the benefits of concentrating on the what are we going to do about it.
Dangers of the Why
- Figuring out the why lulls you into a false belief that you have actually accomplished something.
- We tend to think that if we know why someone is doing something that things will just magically change.
- Creates a blaming and defensiveness cycle that is tough to break
- Focuses on the past which is something we can do nothing about
- Leads to excuses not to change. As in "Well, I can't help because of (fill in the blank with whatever bad stuff happened to you as a kid).
- Leads to a shirking of responsibility for change. As in "If only you would (fill in the blank) everything would be just fine."
- Not much hope here.
Benefits of the What
- Focuses on the present and the future, both of which we can do something about.
- Can give clear direction for what to do to make the relationship better.
- Avoids the blame game.
- Helps each person to take responsibility for their part and the responsibility to do something about it.
- Can be done in small, manageable steps, or as Bill Murray said in "What About Bob" - "baby steps, baby steps, baby steps."
- Lots of hope can be found here.
If this sounds like something your relationship needs, it may be time to hire a good relationship coach. Most therapists focus on understanding the past, while a good relationship coach will help you focus on what to do now to create the kind of relationship in which you would like to live.