Psychological treatment (Photo: ShutterStock)
When something doesn't work in a relationship, our instinct is often to seek couples therapy.
If there is a problem in the relationship, then you should find a joint solution for it, right?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, it would have been nice to find a joint solution to this, but sometimes the best solution is to start with ourselves, in our mechanism that enables the same couple dance in which we live and from which we suffer, to change it, and then from there to influence the dynamics in the relationship.
Here is an example that will help to understand it a little more deeply: S. is not satisfied with her husband.
Because he doesn't give her what she needs: warmth, cooperation, someone you can trust.
He is not ambitious enough.
What are its advantages?
He is a good person, takes care of the children, he is stable at work, people like him.
Why does the negative she sees in her husband outweigh the positive?
It turns out that this was always the case with S.
In all her relationships, she saw what didn't work in her partner, so the moment always came when she moved away or distanced herself.
That's why she only got married at the age of 38. And this time she doesn't want to screw everything up and break up the package.
Take responsibility on our side
In such a case, you can go to couples therapy and try to improve the way they understand, communicate and behave towards each other.
But will it help Sh to see the positive side in him over time?
Maybe what will put the relationship on a new track is actually to change S's tendency to put the finger on what doesn't work?
After all, the more she sees the advantages of her husband, the more satisfied she will be with her relationship and the less she will criticize him.
And the less she criticizes him, the more likely he will want to get closer to her, and give her at least some of the things she lacks.
It is a closed circuit in which it is usually enough to change one significant element in order to change it.
In every relationship there are two sides that feed each other.
An illustration of a man and a woman lying back to back in bed (Photo: ShutterStock)
And this is exactly the idea of coming to couples therapy alone: to take responsibility for our side, change our internal mechanism and then influence the other side and invite a new response from them.
How It Works?
Here are three insights that will help us understand this:
1. Relationship is Libra
Every marital relationship has two sides that feed each other.
A domineering person needs a partner who gives himself up.
A critical person needs a partner who knows how to absorb.
A passive person needs someone next to him who knows how to take the reins.
It is impossible to behave in a relationship the way we do without a second party who enables this behavior in some way, even if she is not aware of it.
If we tend to be silent when the other party raises the voice, we enable the raising of the voice.
If we take on everything at home, we allow the other side to be what we call a 'parasite'.
There are two sides, and an important step to improving the quality of relationships is to take responsibility for our side of the story.
2. Many relationships are built on an abusive relationship axis
What is an offensive axis?
An axis on which the relationship moves and in which each partner occupies one side opposite to the other, an axis that contains harm and disharmony: abuser versus victim, dominating versus giving up, doing everything versus parasite, critical versus shrinking.
As the years go by, usually the axis on which our relationship is based gets stronger and stronger, until a point comes where we say we can't go on like this anymore.
Why do we live on this axis?
Usually a brief look at the house where we grew up and the house where our partner grew up explains it.
We somehow pick up a relationship pattern from our parents and reproduce it in our relationship.
We tend to think we have a choice, but sometimes the choice we have is only between the two sides of the axis we grew up to see.
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If the partner does nothing at home, we somehow enable it.
If our partner constantly criticizes us, something in us allows this to happen.
There is some positive connection to the word 'enabling'.
I allow him to go out with friends, I allow her to do whatever she wants.
But it also works the other way around: unconsciously I allow her to speak badly to me, or I allow him to do nothing at home.
How do we allow such behavior that actually hurts us?
Because we live on a relationship axis that allows harm, and until we release it - it will continue to activate us and create a reality that is often contrary to our desire to live in a pleasant and beneficial relationship.
3. One is enough to create a new couple dance
When a person stops being silent in the face of harm, the offending party cannot stay in the same place.
When a person stops giving up their will, the other side cannot continue to take control.
When one person stops taking on everything at home, the other party cannot continue to do nothing.
To change a relationship dynamic, many times the thing we need to do is change our side of the story.
If we stop criticizing then the other party can stop fearing to communicate with us, and maybe even want to start getting closer.
If we stop giving up on ourselves and our desires, the other party will be forced to take us more into account.
Every change we make in the marital axis from our side also affects the other side, causing him to seek a new balance with us.
A relationship is a zero sum game.
No one can continue to behave as they do in the shared space if we move from our place across the axis.
Therefore, in many cases a personal change creates a marital change.
Gili Weintraub is an emotional therapist and creates a couple therapy approach in half