What’s Under YOUR Hood?
By: Kathy
September 23, 2011

People don’t get it.  They come to couple’s counseling presumably to fix their relationship, but what they often are really after is an overhaul on their partner!  Let’s face it. .   When the engine of the relationship isn’t purring anymore, we are all too eager to look under the hood of our loved one’s car but very reluctant to look under our own!  In relationship counseling, however, if one person is intent on fixing the other one, you can be sure they are going to run off the road!

Here are a few examples:

“I’m only going to work on myself (i.e., do the right and healthy thing) if YOU are.”  So, let me get this straight. . . until your partner gets healthy and acts nice, you have a license to behave badly?  Really?  So you might be in pain about what your partner is doing (or not doing), but how well is that approach working for you?  To be successful in a relationship, you have to be able to put down the tire iron you are threatening your loved one with (anger, criticism, divorce, silent treatment, etc.) and do some troubleshooting on your OWN transmission.  Work on your own car and let them worry about theirs!

“Well, never mind what I did, let’s look at what YOU did!”  This constant comparison and competition to prove your partner’s car is dirtier than yours will do nothing but keep your relationship stuck in neutral.  You aren’t going anywhere!  Let me just say this:  You will NEVER be able to win that race and feel good about yourself.  Essentially, you are just running your partner off the road to get them out of the race.  Whoever fights dirtier, wins.   You may be holding the trophy, but you’re doing it alone.  There is no smiling spouse standing beside you applauding your victory.

“Since you did that, I’m not going to our couples counseling appointment!”  This is another form of focusing on the defects in your partner’s ride, and effectively punishing them for being there.  Okay, so you and your partner had a ‘misfire’ and you’re angry.  But how is refusing to take the whole car into the shop going to help fix what made it misfire in the first place?  If you really want to know what’s broken in your relationship, you’ll go to counseling no matter how rough it’s running and get to know what it takes to make it run smoothly.

If you’re having a hard time getting your relationship to run well, I strongly encourage you to try a new kind of maintenance.  You may very well be blaming the car when it is the driver that is the problem!!