Happy Relationships Blog

When Only One is Working on the Problems in the Relationship

Posted on: February 26, 2009

Lisa Says:

Tim,

I have a question and a couple of comments:

1. Do you address these issues from the standpoint that there may only be one partner in the marriage working toward solutions? Sometimes only one will see the pathway out of the conflicts, while the other refuses to discuss or work on any of them.

2. I love the fact that you mention the futility of ‘behavioral modification.’ People CAN change their behavior, but if the belief system and thought patterns of that person do not change, the modifications will break down quickly, or become a means of manipulation.

3. I’d like to see more regarding hidden and unresolved issues – it is something I will look for in your book when I begin reading it. These can be very debilitating in a relationship – it’s much better to discuss the ‘elephant in the room,’ and then things can be worked on.

Thank you for the invitation to the interview – looking forward to reading your book.

Tim Kellis Says: 

Lisa

Excellent question about one working on the relationship and not the other. My thought with this may be the approach that one is using in working on the relationship. I bet if you were to ask the other if he or she was interested in working on the relationship the answer may be yes, or it should be.

But if the approach to problems is based on the fear that problems may occur, instead of solving problems that do occur, then again the perspective is in the wrong direction.

I use a personal story to demonstrate my point. I worked on Wall Street as a semiconductor analyst, which basically means that I am one of dozens of analysts with opinions on the stocks I follow. I became negative on one in particular after being bullish on it, and the stock fell by 30%. After the market closed Intel bought the company and the stock doubled the next day.

My point is I was castigated on the chat rooms for being so stupid. Smart Money Magazine even wrote an article about me entitled “What Was He Thinking” about how stupid I was to downgrade the stock before Intel bought the Company. Professional investors know the difficulty in predicting where stock prices are going in the future.

The point is if you are addressing problems logically before they occur, or emotionally after they occur then you are basing your perspective on the underlying fear. The objective is to base your perspective on problems logically after they occur or emotionally before they occur. This is actually an extremely important difference between positive relationships and negative ones. And basing them emotionally before they occur basically means addressing the solution to problems before they come up with the goal of a happy outcome.

And yes to your point on behavior modification without an understanding of the underlying belief system and thought patterns. The reality is our character traits cause our behavior, and our character traits are nothing more than system of beliefs that we learned growing up. Obviously the objective is to have positive character traits, to be nice, but unfortunately in our material world we also learn negative character traits. Until these are changed solving problems in marriage becomes very difficult.

And the point about hidden or unresolved issues is until they are revealed you cannot address them because you do not know they exists. But the reality is anger is our way of exposing our insecurities. If we could only learn to neutralize our own defense mechanisms when our spouse gets mad then we could also learn to address anger, or sadness, when it is revealed.

Lisa I look forward to hearing more from you.

Sincerely

Tim Kellis

www.HappyRelationships.com

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