The proper approach to a relationship problem

​At least weekly, I get an email whereby somebody tells me all about the problems in their relationship. They will give me a detailed account except the details are not entirely honest. I know this because I know the simple truth; it takes two to make a relationship work and it takes two to make it fail. It doesn’t mean that both parties are equally responsible for the problems but each person will have at least a little responsibility. In the email I receive, the person writing the email will have made no effort to determine their own contribution to the problem. It will all be the fault of the other party. There are even some common threads which run through these emails e.g.:

At least weekly, I get an email whereby somebody tells me all about the problems in their relationship. They will give me a detailed account except the details are not entirely honest. I know this because I know the simple truth; it takes two to make a relationship work and it takes two to make it fail. It doesn’t mean that both parties are equally responsible for the problems but each person will have at least responsibility. In the email I receive, the person writing the email will have made no effort to determine their own contribution to the problem. It will all be the fault of the other party. There are even some common threads which run through these emails e.g.:
  • ​He/she doesn’t respect me
    He/she doesn’t respect me
  • ​He/she respects everybody else
    He/she respects everybody else
  • Everybody else loves me; it is just him/her who treats me badly
  • I have tried everything
    I have tried everything

​If you had a relationship problem and you had tried everything, you wouldn’t be asking for help. You would either have solved the problem or, you would have accepted that the problem couldn’t be solved and taken the appropriate action e.g. ended the relationship.

​Assertiveness Tactics Report

The ability to communicate effectively and be assertive are essential when facing a relationship problem. My FREE Assertiveness Tactics report will help you.


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You had a relationship problem and you had tried everything, you wouldn’t be asking for help. You would either have solved the problem or, you would have accepted that the problem couldn’t be solved and taken the appropriate action e.g. ended the relationship.

​Did you take these simple steps?

Did you take these simple steps?

​I often walk through the following steps with the person who emailed me to try to highlight how they need to take a different approach to solving their relationship problem.

I often walk through the following steps with the person who emailed me to try to highlight how they need to take a different approach to solving their relationship problem.

​1. Did you talk to the other person?

relationship-problem-did-you-talk-to-the-other-person
1. Did you talk to the other person?

​As surprising as this may seem, most of the people who contact me about relationship problems have never raised their issue(s) with the other person. They are more than happy to email me, a stranger, and tell me all about the other person, their faults and how they are impacting the relationship. But it has never crossed their mind to tell the person they are having trouble with.

As I said earlier, it takes two to make a relationship and it takes two to break a relationship. Just as importantly, it takes two to mend a broken relationship. If you are having relationship problems, the only way to truly fix it is being assertive, being brave and raising the issue with the other person. If they don’t want to solve the problem, at least you know where you stand.

Resource: The Dealing With Difficult People Handbook

As surprising as this may seem, most of the people who contact me about relationship problems have never raised their issue(s) with the other person. They are more than happy to email me, a stranger, and tell me all about the other person, their faults and how they are impacting the relationship. But it has never crossed their mind to tell the person they are having trouble with.

As I said earlier, it takes two to make a relationship and it takes two to break a relationship. Just as importantly, it takes two to mend a broken relationship. If you are having relationship problems, the only way to truly fix it is being assertive, being brave and raising the issue with the other person. If they don’t want to solve the problem, at least you know where you stand.

​2. Were you honest about your feelings?

2. Were you honest about your feelings?
relationship-problem-were-you-honest-about-your-feelings

​Obviously, if you haven’t talked to the other person about the relationship problem, then that is the first step. But if you have, you need to determine whether you really talked with the them about the problem. Were you completely honest?

By being honest, I mean explaining in detail what it is that is upsetting you. Explaining your feelings about the situation in a manner that allows the other person to fully understand the severity of the situation. Sometimes people are so busy and caught up in other stuff that when you attempt to address an important issue with them, they fail to grasp the full severity of the situation. It is your job to ensure they understand how important this issue is to you and you can make this easier.

Key Point

When explaining your feelings, it is important not to blame the other person for your feelings e.g.

'You made me feel.'

Instead, take responsibility for your own feelings: e.g.

'When you do that, I feel … '

It’s a subtle difference but it can have a big impact.

It’s a subtle difference but it can have a big impact.

Obviously, if you haven’t talked to the other person about the relationship problem, then that is the first step. But if you have, you need to determine whether you really talked with the them about the problem. Were you completely honest?

By being honest, I mean explaining in detail what it is that is upsetting you. Explaining your feelings about the situation in a manner that allows the other person to fully understand the severity of the situation. Sometimes people are so busy and caught up in other stuff that when you attempt to address an important issue with them, they fail to grasp the full severity of the situation. It is your job to ensure they understand how important this issue to you and you can make this easier.

Automatically blaming others for a relationship problem will never solve the problem.

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​3. Did you invite them to talk?

relationship-problem-did-you-invite-them-to-talk
3. Did you invite them to talk?

​Just as you have the right to be honest and open about the situation, you must afford the other person the same right. You must allow them the opportunity to speak from the heart and share their views and feelings about the situation. It is only when everything is out in the open that you can truly solve a relationship problem so, while the truth can occassinally be upsetting, it should never be feared.

Not everybody is as quick to share their thoughts and feelings but to solve the problem, you really need them to open up. So, don’t wait for them to start talking. Invite them to air their views. Explain that it is important to you that they speak freely, and encourage them to do so.

Key Point

It is important that you respect their right to speak freely. When they start to speak, do not interrupt them and do not jump to your own defence. This only serves to tell them that you don’t really want to hear what they have to say.

Wait until they finish to address any issues which may arise.

​Assertiveness Tactics Report

The ability to communicate effectively and be assertive are essential when facing a relationship problem. My FREE Assertiveness Tactics report will help you.


Get Your FREE Copy Here

Just as you have the right to be honest and open about the situation, you must afford the other person the same right. You must allow them the opportunity to speak from the heart and share their views and feelings about the situation. It is only when everything is out in the open that you can truly solve a relationship problem so, while the truth can occassinally be upsetting, it should never be feared.

Not everybody is as quick to share their thoughts and feelings but to solve the problem, you really need them to open up. So, don’t wait for them to start talking. Invite them to air their views. Explain that is important to you that they speak freely and encourage them to do so.

​4. Did you question reality?

relationship problem did you question reality
4. Did you question reality?

​One of the most difficult things to accept with a relationship problem is that your reality is not reality. You have formed your own opinions of what is going on and you have mistakenly assumed that your opinion is reality. But it is just your view of things.

The other person will have their own view – their own reality. But just as your view of things isn’t reality, neither is their view. Reality lies somewhere in between and the only way that you can determine the reality of the situation is to question both your reality and the other person’s reality. ​

You need to have an open, honest and frank discussion about what is going on.

One of the most difficult things to accept with a relationship problem is that your reality is not reality. You have formed your own opinions of what is going on and you have mistakenly assumed that your opinion is reality. But it is just your view of things.

The other person will have their own view – their own reality. But just as your view of things isn’t reality, neither is their view. Reality lies somewhere in between and the only way that you can determine the reality of the situation is to question both your reality and the other person’s reality. To have an open, honest and frank discussion about what is going on.
  • ​Use open questions to gather information
    Use open questions to gather information
  • ​Use probing question to explore key points
    Use probing question to explore key points
  • ​Use clarifying questions to gain better understanding
    Use clarifying questions to gain better understanding
  • Use closed questions to confirm and to agree a way forward
    Use closed questions to confirm and to agree a way forward

​It is only when you have fully understood a relationship problem that you can truly resolve it. Too many people accept their own views and opinions as reality, so they never fully understand the problem. They then wonder why they can never seem to resolve the issue.

It is only when you have fully understood a relationship problem that you can truly resolve it. Too many people accept their own views and opinions as reality, so they never fully understand the problem. They then wonder why they can never seem to resolve the issue.

​If you need to improve your communication skills so that you can adopt the proper approach to a relationship problem, check out How to Talk So Others Will Listen.


​Conclusion

Conclusion

​Wherever you have a relationship, you will, at least occasionally, encounter a relationship problem. The easy thing to do is to the lay the blame at the door of the other person. That puts the onus on them to resolve the issue while excusing you from making any effort. Not only is this approach wrong; it is cowardly, and it is a sneaky, underhanded attack on the other person. Because, with any relationship problem, both parties have played some role in the creation of the problem. It is your duty to help deal with the issue; to make an honest effort to resolve the issue, one way or another. Of course, the other person may not want to resolve the issue and it is then up to you to determine the right course of action to take. But blaming the other person without making any real effort is not acceptable.

Wherever you have a relationship, you will, at least occasionally, encounter a relationship problem. The easy thing to do is to the lay the blame at the door of the other person. That puts the onus on them to resolve the issue while excusing you from making any effort. Not only is this approach wrong; it is cowardly, and it is a sneaky, underhanded attack on the other person. Because, with any relationship problem, both parties have played some role in the creation of the problem. It is your duty to help deal with the issue; to make an honest effort to resolve the issue, one way or another. Of course, the other person may not want to resolve the issue and it is then up to you to determine the right course of action to take. But blaming the other person without making any real effort is not acceptable.