Partner did something wrong – now what?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What do you what your partner to do when they have done something wrong?

How you and your partner handle the times when one of you makes a mistake will make all the difference in how your relationship fares.

Partner mistakes come in all sizes and varieties from the serious to the trivial.

What you think of as terrible another person may not even notice.

 

Expectations cause conflicts.

If you planned a special dinner and your partner is late getting home from work, this will have a different impact on you than them. If you were expecting them to take out the garbage or perform another household chore and they were expecting to do this later, you can end up with a resentment over something they still plan on doing.

Couples problems that are the result of differences in expectations often result from one or both partners not verbalizing what they expect the other partner to “just know.” This belief, that your partner should know things without being told, is called “mind-reading” and creates a lot of couple’s conflict as does differences in expectations about who does what chores and when.

Having these discussions about what you expect and when is a first step in improving couples communication. The second step is getting clear on what comes after your partner fails to meet your expectations.

Think about what you want your partner to do if they made a mistake. Then ask yourself if that response will make your relationship better or worse. If your partner does not know what you are looking for they will be unlikely to hit on the correct response by accident. Some of the possibilities below fall under the heading of “repair efforts” other fall into the category of behaviors that damage relationships beyond repair.

Do you want your partner to suffer?

If your partner has done or not done something and as a result, you are feeling hurt, is your first response to make them suffer? People who try to fix their own hurt by striking back at their partner may believe this is evening the score but the usual result is to add more pain and resentments to the space between you.

When you are hurt and suffering and then make your partner suffer to get even, your relationship suffers the most.

Should your spouse admit it?

In couples counseling, we hear one partner request of the other that they “just admit you did it.” This rarely solves the problem. It may be the first step, but once they admit they were late, forgot the appointment or another misdeed, what should they do next?

If this is what you request, consider whether this will be sufficient or will you need to continue to remind them of how much it hurt you? If once they admit their mistake you still feel less than whole what else is required?

Should your partner apologize?

Are you looking for an apology or will more than a sorry be required?  Repeated apologies about the same thing don’t cut it. Eventually, you two will need to do some communicating to resolve where the problem lies.

For some people apologizing is saying the words, for others, it is taking action to change things. Be clear what form of apology you will require and communicate this to your partner.

How would they make it up to you?

Some couples practice a sort of “restitution” for things undone or done wrongly. What would make it up to you? Have you communicated this clearly to your partner? Do they agree with you?

Do you want them to brainstorm and come up with a suggestion on what they could do to make it up to you? Or do you feel you should be the one to ask for some other behavior from your partner that would make you feel compensated for having your expectations not met?

Should your partner empathize with you?

Knowing your partner understands and empathizes is just the thing for some people. Other people do not care if you “get their feelings” and want action. Couples that communicate well can discuss with each other what will work for them.

Should your partner give you a hug or kiss?

Are you someone for whom physical affection will make it right? If so an exhibition of psychical affection can go a long way to repair the damage done when your partner lets you down. Knowing they love you or that they love you anyway solves lots of problems.

Should they show their love in some other ways?

Are there other ways that your partner may make you feel especially loved? I find that Chapman’s – The Five Love Languages is a good starting point for couples to have the conversation about what makes them feel loved.

If your partner has done something that let you down, disappointed you or that you feel was flat wrong, what are you expecting them to do next?

You can find more posts about Relationships and Couples therapy at:

Relationships

Couples Therapy

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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7 Relationship Destroyers.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Family torn apart

Divorce.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many of these relationship destroying skills do you practice?

Couples slip into patterns of behavior over time. Some of these repetitive behaviors make their relationship stronger, other relationship habits destroy your togetherness.

What one partner does the other tends to copy. Over time using these relationship destroying skills becomes a habit.

Do you and your partner practice relationship destruction on a regular basis?

Attacking your partner devastates the relationship.

You want one thing and your partner wants another. It is easy to slip from disagreement to seeing your partner as the obstacle to getting what you want. Many couples start out with a conflict about a simple thing, household chores for example, but this conflict quickly escalates to an all-out attack on the partner.

Moving from complaining that your partner does not clean up after themselves in the kitchen to an all-out global condemnation of them as a filthy, dirty slob is sure to damage your relationship.

Focus on the blame and make each other wrong.

Life can be hard. Bad things happen even to good people. When those inevitable difficulties come do you focus on making things better, what needs to be done or do you slip into the blame game telling your partner it is all their fault.

Even if your partner has made a serious mistake, staying stuck on the blaming part keeps you two from working together to figure out how you will get past this.

Control your partner for a one person relationship.

Many couples’ disagreements are not about the facts but about who gets to decide, who will be in control. Happy couples work together to make joint decisions. Generally, they delegate some things to each person. If one of you is better at organization and scheduling let them set the schedule. If one person handles money better, then they may be the one to manage the finances.

Avoid arguments about who is in control of what and try to negotiate this. When someone is a “control freak” this often comes from a place of anxiety and fear. Help them to see that they can relax and let you do things and their world will still be fine.

Stop looking at control conflicts as who wins and who loses. Look for solutions where you both win and no one has to be the loser.

Insisting on total control in the relationship is a formula for a dysfunctional, unhappy relationship. If one person in the relationship has “control issues” consider getting professional help to work through this.

If you can’t win the argument enjoy the martyrdom. Placating and the victim stance.

Placating, giving in and taking on the victim role may work for a while. In the long run being the constant victim is a damaging part to play. Couples that adapt the winner and the loser way of communicating are less happy in their interactions. Playing the victim may take some of the stings out of not getting your way, but it undermines the relationship over the long haul.

Build walls to keep your partner out.

Relationships, primary sexual ones, and even friendships can open you up to emotions. Wall building, cutting parts of who you are off from others can feel protective at the time. Over time the person who puts up the walls becomes progressively more isolated.

Put up enough walls and you end up living a lonely isolated life even in the midst of a relationship.

Avoiding the problems any way you can, destroys relationships.

There are innumerable ways to avoid problems. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to avoid painful feelings, others bounce from relationship to relationship. Affairs are a common way of avoiding dealing with the core issues a couple is experiencing.

When you use these negative coping strategies to avoid dealing with the problems you dig the hole deeper. Learning problem-solving skills requires practice. If you don’t deal with an issue now you will need to deal with it later after it has grown to humongous proportions.

Resentments will keep you warm at night.

Resentments are a sorry companion. The feeling that it is someone else’s fault, refusing to let go of past hurts, will make you feel justified in staying stuck. Resentments can prevent any healing from taking place.

Holding onto resentments, large and small can isolate you and eventually Mr. or Miss Resentment becomes your primary friendship. It takes courage to let go of resentments but hanging on to them is a sure relationship destroyer.

Ready to let go of the resentment destroyers?

If you see that these relationship destroyers have taken up residence in your relationship, now is the time to start working on them. If possible talk with your partner about these issues and see if you can work through them. Pick a time when you are both calm and receptive.

If your relationship has been so badly damaged that fixing it is no longer a “do it yourself project” look for professional help, a Marriage or Couples Therapist before the whole relationship gets condemned and torn down.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Relationship destroyer okay sounds good

Relationship mistakes to avoid

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many of these relationship mistakes do you make?

Thinking that relationships should be easy is a mistake.

Relationship Mistakes

Relationship Mistakes
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Ed Yourdon)

Life is difficult sometimes, so are relationships.

If there are tough times in your relationship that does not mean that this is a bad relationship. Any relationship you will ever be in will have rough patches.

Some people think that a great relationship should always be good. When the bad times come they mistakenly believe this means the relationship was never good.

Having struggles does not mean the relationship is doomed.

Believing the other person can make you happy is a mistake.

Two unhappy people do not make for a happy relationship. Learn to be happy by yourself and then in a relationship you can have even better times. Thinking that it is your partner’s job to make you happy is a recipe for disaster.

Occasionally someone can help you feel happy for the short run but in the lifelong time frame you need to work on your happiness and your partner needs to work on theirs. Together two happy people can be even better.

Don’t think that one mistake and the relationship is over.

No one will ever be perfect. If you jettison your partner over a single mistake you will run through a lot of partners. Some “mistakes” may be on your no-way list. Make these clear to your partner early on. But if your partner turns out to not be perfect at everything on your wish list, this means that they are human, not that the relationship is hopeless.

Don’t think that you have to trust completely about everything.

There are levels of trust. Set your expectations too high and you will set yourself up to feel like you can’t trust your partner. You should be able to trust that your partner cares and that they will make a good effort at the relationship but if they forget an appointment or they do not remember something important to you this does not mean you can’t trust them.

If you have trust issues look at yourself and decide if you would trust you. Many people find they have set the standard for others above what they expect from themselves. Set your expectations for other humans too high and you are engineering failure.

Avoid thinking that you need to tell your partner everything.

Too much honesty can be a relationship wrecker. You do not need to tell your partner all the things they do wrong. (See the post – Just being honest – 5 times telling the truth is a bad thing .)

There are some things you partner can bear to hear. If you run to them with every hurt and disappointment you may overload them. If you have personal issues you need to work on, consider seeing a therapist. Your partner is too involved in your life to be able to listen to all your past issues.

Your partner should always be there for you.

Life is compromises. We expect our partners to be there for us during the big things but remember that your partner needs to balance the other parts of their life. Most partners come with families, friends and hopefully jobs. While you should be your partners top priority that does not mean that they can drop everything and be at your beck and call. People who expect too much togetherness set the relationship up for failure.

Trying to fit your partner in between other things doesn’t work.

Just like you can’t expect your partner to always be there, relationships do not work if that partner is never there for you. Make sure you are each other’s top priority. Family and friends have their own lives. Jobs will come and go. Eventually, the children grow up and start their own lives. A life partner should be there the whole way.

Make sure the two of you carve out time for the couple relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.