Conflict Resolution: What or Who Is the Problem?
When couples are in conflict, it's completely normal for each person to view the other as the problem. After all, if your spouse would just change their thinking, their behavior, their character, the problem would just go away, right?
There's a big flaw with that thinking. When you view your spouse as the problem, there's only one fix: You have to fix your spouse.
Not only does this imply that your spouse is broken (which we ALL are in some way or another) but it also implies that you know the remedy and that you are NOT the problem. The reality is more likely that you have no idea what the remedy really is and you're making a hefty contribution to the conflict, too.
Most of us have the ability to significantly influence our spouse and his or her behavior to some degree. In fact, we usually have more influence on others than we think we do. But what you don't have is the power to change your spouse's make-up or the core of who he or she is. You really can't "fix" anybody or make that person be somebody else. It's a big enough challenge to 'fix' yourself!
In order to make any headway in a marital conflict, you must make a clear distinction: See your spouse as your partner and the problem as the problem.
Read that part again because it's powerful stuff.
Can you see how viewing the problem as the problem is a perspective that could potentially change the landscape of many future conflicts? It can quite possibly turn things around from you VS your spouse, to you & your spouse VS the problem.
Suddenly, you're pulling together WITH your partner instead of engaging in another tug-of-war. You're back on the same team and much more likely to be in the right frame of mind to share openly, forgive freely and problem-solve gracefully.
You may be thinking, "Sure, that sounds great. But how do I get my spouse see me as a partner and the problem as the problem?" That's a good question, but … (I hate to break this to you) it misses the point.
Remember, you can't 'fix' your spouse. Before you start worrying that your spouse won't change his or her perspective, go ahead and begin changing yours. Lead by example. You may even wish to verbalize your new perspective by saying, "I realize that you're not the problem here … that the problem is the problem and I really want to work with you to solve it. Maybe we can come up with solutions together?"
Conflict resolution isn't easy. It takes work, negotiation, forgiveness and creativity to find workable solutions for you both. Pointing the finger at the problem instead of at your spouse can make all the difference!