It can be really hard to decide if you need to exit a relationship or stay and work harder. We say we love someone so much, but yet half of the time we can’t stand them. Then when we make steps towards leaving, panic sets in and we run back to the comfort of what we know and find familiar. There have been endless amounts of books written on if you should stay or go. People in troubled relationships buy these books by the ton, flock to psychologists, talk our friends ears off, pray, meditate, beg our significant other to change, threaten to leave, leave, come back and leave again. And we still don’t know if what we are doing is right. We get hung up on “what is meant to be”. Then when you add other life factors in such as children, marriage, family, age and length of time together things really get complicated.
Today I am going to switch the focus from the relationship to something else. You. The only thing you have any control over is yourself. As annoying as that is, it’s still the truth. Can your loved one change? Certainly. Do they want to? Who knows? If you want a happy life then the only answer is to keep the focus on you. Through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy techniques you may be able to stick to a plan of action that will provide results that will enhance your personal happiness regardless of what the status of your relationship is. Following are the four choices that you have in resolving conflict.
1. Solve the problem
2. Change your perception
3. Stay miserable
4. Radically accept
Solving the problem is where most people get stuck. If a problem is solvable, it will be solved. If we are spending endless hours, days, months, or years trying to solve a particular problem, it’s time to try something else! We solve a problem by identifying it, coming up with an action plan, and then applying the action. We may come up with a couple of different plans if the first one doesn’t work. That’s fine. But applying the same action/s over and over and not seeing change is wasted energy. Move on to another action.
Changing your perception is something that takes real work but can have spectacular results. For example, let’s say your significant other comes home with a scowl on his face. You ask him what is wrong and he barks “For god’s sake can you let me get in the damn door before you cross- examine me!” You may, in reaction, want to gripe back “Fine, screw you! I was in a fine mood until YOU came in!” Now you are off to a great start for a bad night. But changing your perception could greatly change the events of the evening. You might be able to say to yourself “well he must have had a tough day, from past experience I know he probably needs to decompress before he can vocalize what’s wrong.” You have a quiet dinner together followed by him retreating to the TV or a shower. Afterwards, he might open up and share about his day. Or perhaps the air will be enough between you to broach the subject again. By not taking his mood personally, you were able to change how you perceived his actions. You end up with a serene evening, instead of an ugly one full of fighting. This is a skill that takes practice and patience, but the payoff can be great.
Staying miserable is the dangerous choice but it might be a choice we need to make in order to gain tools to choose another option. Sometimes this option tricks you into thinking it’s the easiest choice. And it is initially, but after a period of time we get to a point where we realize we can’t stay in the misery long term. We have all heard that change occurs “when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change”. I believe it to be true. We stay miserable as long as we can. And when we can’t stay miserable any more, we change.
Radical acceptance is tricky. We think we are accepting something completely. We say we have accepted someone or something. But somewhere in our subconscious we are still working to change the person/place/thing we have no control over. We pretend on the outside that we’ve accepted but we are still miserable on the inside. Radical acceptance often times happens spontaneously when we are in the pit of depression. It can be more of a surrender than an acceptance. The good news is with practice, accepting can become easier. There will always be things we don’t want to surrender to, but acceptance as a skill, can be honed.
Try applying these techniques to your relationship conflicts and see if it brings relief, happiness, or joy. You will have nothing to lose by giving this a chance because these skills can be used in ALL of our relationships, not just the romantic ones. More information can be find at http://www.freedom2b.net/.