Charlotte was this close to coming unglued.
Most of the time, she felt like a single parent.
She and Mark were already living like roommates, instead of husband and wife. They got along “okay,” but it sure as hell wasn’t her idea of marriage.
If Mark helped with anything involving their son, it was only after she asked him to, and he always acted like it was a big pain in the ass.
His lack of proactive involvement in their son’s life was exhausting.
But Charlotte didn’t know what else to do.
The LAST thing she wanted was to be the stereotypical nagging shrew.
Yet unless she adopted that role, Mark was all but useless as a parent to their son.
And because nothing she tried made a difference, she felt trapped by Mark’s refusal to see reason and be a more involved parent.
Charlotte and Mark’s situation is all too common in today’s world, and it begs the question: How on earth do you create positive change in your relationship when you feel stuck because your partner refuses to change?
Paul and I teach that it only takes one person to transform ANY relationship…but that can feel pretty challenging when you feel stuck because of your partner.
It’s disempowering. You feel very helpless like your choices are either to continue settling or to get a divorce and break up your family.
But I’m going to challenge you here, by shining a light on what’s really keeping you stuck.
The reason you feel powerless to change your relationship is not because of your partner, and not because of whatever they’re doing that you find frustrating and upsetting.
Nope. The cause of your disempowerment is that you’re blaming your partner.
“What the hell does that have to do with anything, Stacey??”
Let me explain.
When you blame someone else, you put the responsibility for what’s happening (or not happening, in Charlotte and Mark’s case) on them, right?
And if the responsibility is theirs, that means only they have the power to change it.
That’s why you feel disempowered!
When you turn over the power to change the situation to someone else, you DISempower yourself.
So what do you do?
The first step is to catch yourself before you descend into blame. If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. Blame hasn’t worked for you, so it’s time to find another way.
The second thing I want you to understand is, while you may not be the cause of what you’re partner’s doing or saying, you definitely are the trigger.
What I mean is, you’re triggering their response to you every frickin’ time, whether it’s stuff you hate and that drives you batshit crazy, or whether it’s stuff you love about them.
And they’re doing the same to you. That’s the cycle!
Whether consciously or unconsciously, whether you want to or not…you’re triggering the stuff you’re blaming them for, and wanting them to fix.
Listen, what’s beautiful about this is, if you can trigger the stuff that drives you batshit crazy, you can ALSO trigger something else. Something different. Something in alignment with what you want for your relationship.
YOU have that power…the power to shift what you’re doing and get a different response.
So in Charlotte’s example above, you might be asking yourself “Stacey, how in the world can you say that is Charlotte’s fault?”
First off, I never said “Fault” (more on that another time).
AND…. it IS her responsibility to OWN the reality of her family, as it is today, because SHE co-created that.
For instance, before Charlotte got pregnant, did she sit down with Mark and design who was going to be responsible for what in the household and parenting?
So this leads to “Invisible Expectations” about who will do what. Then Charlotte feels resentful and starts nagging. But the truth is, she never explicitly TOLD Mark what she would need from him in order to agree to have a child.
You may think that sounds ridiculous.
But there is NO way to have a happy, peaceful and authentic relationship with someone when you have invisible expectations that you need them to meet and you never told them the rules of your game before they agreed to play.
By the same token, before they decided that Charlotte would switch to being a stay at home mom to take care of their child and Mark would be the primary bread-winner, did Mark ever explicitly say to Charlotte “Ok, if we are going to do this, then let’s just be clear that MY full time job is to bring in cash for us and your primary job is to take care of the children and house”?
So after working a full-day, at a job that he suffers through to fund everything that the family needs, when she nags him to do “her tasks too” he is just seething in anger, feeling like she’s not holding up her end of the deal. He feels deceived. LIke he agreed to do this and now she’s making him do his work and her work too. He feels manipulated, but obligated to keep being the cash-machine around this place until that kid is old enough that he can go.
See, we co-create the situations we find ourselves in.
From YOUR perspective it looks SO CLEAR, doesn’t it?
Until you learn how to see things from your partner’s lenses… then you can see how you BOTH co-created this situation and EITHER one of you can actually fix it!
But you will never get to the fix if you walk around all day BLAMING your partner.
Exactly how to fix this is something Paul and I talk about at Relationship Breakthrough Retreat! Our 3-Day Live immersion event!
We are announcing the Dates & Location for Relationship Breakthrough Retreat in the next couple of days, so check out the event page to find out… RelationshipBreakthroughRetreat.com