While some couples seem to get along better than others, even the best relationships aren’t free of issue. Among other hardships couples face, we all argue at times. Arguing with the person we love is painful and can cause lasting damage. Not only might we hear things from our partner that hurt, in those heated moments we sometimes do or say something that we may later regret. Feelings of hurt and regret can put distance between two people and will affect the stability and future of the relationship.
Many couples tell me that after such an exchange, they each want to handle it in one of two ways. They will either want to resolve the issue right then and there, or choose to drop it, walk away and/or deal with it later. If one person pushes the other to resolve it or vice versa, it can cause the arguing to begin again and the cycle continues. Rather than try to change your partner’s resolution style or force them to work things out before they are ready, one often sure-fire way to end an argument is to apologize and take responsibility or ownership for your own wrong doings. In most arguments between couples, no one is totally innocent. When one or both people own their part of the problem, it is hard for either to stay angry and it can change the course of the relationship.
Taking ownership is an important, perhaps crucial, part of having a successful, happy, healthy relationship. Taking ownership means assessing your own behavior honestly and then sharing those findings with your partner. It shows your partner that you are self-aware and able to be vulnerable with that self-awareness.
Let’s take a look at the example of “Paul” and “Elizabeth.”. When they came to see me due to lots of recent arguing, an argument began to unfold during the session. Paul quickly accused Elizabeth of flying off the handle and getting way too upset during their most recent argument. Elizabeth accused Paul of stonewalling her and refusing to talk about the issue in the moment, thereby “dragging it out.” We began to talk about ownership and how in all of their disagreements, both had some piece of fault or ownership. We discussed the importance of ownership and the powerful effect it can have on the way the members of a couple relate to one another. I shared with them examples of other couples who had learned about taking responsibility and how it changed the relationship. By the end of the session, they were both able to own a small part of the recent argument. It was a big step for them and when they came back the next week they had only had one argument between sessions. They reported that they both had been able to take ownership and each shared with me how good it felt. They only needed one more session and were able to move on. I recently got a message that they were engaged.
When we are willing to be open and honest and own our behavior we can find true closeness and connection with our partner on a deeper level. If you and your partner need help with this or you personally would like to meet with me to discuss this or other issues, please click here to schedule a session.