Relationship Past-Relationship Future (Part 2 of 4)

Relationship Past-Relationship Future (Part 2 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about how all of us do relationships. I believe that we are created for relationships and what gives us the most important meaning in our life is the significant relationships we have with people. When we have positive growing and happy relationships, then our life does become better and we all are happy for these people. But the opposite can also happen when we have conflict, hate and hurt in our most important relationships then life can become very stressful and depressing.

Recently, a study and book was published titled “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship” by Terri Orbuch. The theory and premise of this book was to ask divorced people to reflect upon their past relationships and to state what they think they did wrong as a learning lesson for building a better future relationship. I thought this study and topic to be very good and right on so, I thought I would share some of my insights as it applies to participating in healthy relationships.


In part 1 of this 4 part series, I talked about the importance of revealing yourself in your communication with one another. When you can value revealing more about yourself and talk about yourself and not just facts or topics about our current society; that is when each spouse or person will benefit from drawing closer to each other due to the honesty and revealing of who you are. To give and inform the other person about yourself is like a good gift one gives to another. Many people would rather know more about you than let’s say you buy them a $1000.00 watch. People can buy their own watches, but if the relationship stops due to poor communication, then what would it do any good to have a nice watch. Each person needs to value knowing one another as the best gift to give to one another.

So from this book and study, they talked about the importance of blaming the relationship versus blaming each other. What this means is that each divorced person looked back at their marriage or relationship and realized that they needed to blame the relationship and not the ex-spouse or friend for the cause of the break-up. Wow. What a concept. In a world that loves to blame and to find fault, then it only makes sense why resisting the idea or even not blaming the other person, would lead to each person taking responsibility for the reason of the break up.

According to the book, the author stated that divorced individuals who blamed each other for their divorce had more anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders than individuals who blamed the way they and their partners interacted. This is important. When two spouses or people blame each other, their focus is on the person, and not on the problem. According to the author, those who held on to their anger were less likely to move on, build a strong new relationship, and address future problems in a positive, proactive manner.

That is the invitation. Find a way to stop looking for reasons why problems exist in a relationship and come up with solutions. It has been my experience that one of the biggest reasons people get stuck and stay stuck in their relationships is due to the fact that they are constantly looking and judging the other person and when problems come up, they then jump on the other person and blame them for the current problem.

Why do we blame? Maybe it is to avoid being accused by someone. Maybe it is not to take responsibility. Maybe it is to feel a sense of power as being in a power struggle and it feels good to blame. Maybe you see relationships as a competition and you want to win, and therefore, one of the ways to win is to try to beat the other person through blame. Maybe it is because it feels good when we argue to voice are opinion as way to prove to the other person how we feel or what we are fighting for.

The bottom line from what the divorced people were saying was that when they reflect back on their relationship, they wished they would have talked more about the “we” versus the “you”. This is good reflection for all of us to learn. A healthy relationship future would be to make statements like the following: “What do you think it is about us, or why do you think we aren’t getting along.” By focusing on the simple words of “we” and “us”, you are then shifting your focus from “you” and “I” to how are “we” contributing to the problem in the relationship.

Therefore, try to look at problems through the lens of the relationship in terms of how two people dance or relate versus only looking at the other person and using blame as a strategy to get back or find fault with the other person. Instead of blaming and accusing the other person for a problem by announcing, “you have a problem;” shift the focus and announce “we have a problem.” By doing this, both people are admitting and confessing that there is a problem and both people are stating the relationship has a problem, and not just one person is the problem. A shared problem can be fixed because then both people are participating in solving it together.

So, value co-working on solving problems together. Anger, anxiety, and stress will be decreased as both partners tackle the problems together. Each person will then feel like they are on the same team versus being competitive enemies trying to win or prove that you are right and the other person is wrong. Always answer this question: “Do you want to be right and blame, or do you want a relationship and be a team player.” Quit being stubborn by trying to be right and instead build trust so that both partners are actively engaged in wanting to work together.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ingredients you would put into building a healthy relationship. Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.