Four Mistakes we make that can cause conflict
Hey, Jackie Hall here, founder of the Parental Stress Centre. Welcome to day one of How to Improve your Relationship in 10 days.
Eleven years ago, I was a stay at home mum to a 2 year old and a 6 month old and I was a nightmare to live with. It took me a while to realise it, but thank goodness I did, because I know my husband was not game to tell me so.
I was feeling like there was a gross imbalance in workload from what I had to do, compared to he had to do. I felt that I was too tired, overworked, overwhelmed, never got any me time, had to think of everything – what meals to cook, groceries to buy, sleep, eat and bath routines, housework, the business book keeping and marketing, arranging appointments, paying all the bills, basically thinking of everything to do with running the household.
And really, when we fast forward 11 years, not much has really changed in that department either.
When on earth was there any time for me?!!
Little did I know, that my husband was also feeling the pressures of life with two little children too. Yes, he got to eat his lunch with little or no interruptions and he got left alone with his thoughts when commuting the 45minute drive to and from work, but what was he thinking during those times? How tired HE was, having the kids wake him up (even though he wasn’t getting up to them) and then having to go and do a physical job with little sleep (then a shade sail installer) and whether he was going to have enough money to pay the bills (severe anxiety emerged from those worries), and how he was going to help the family get ahead. He was thinking about how stressed I was and why he wasn’t able to make me happy anymore and if the truth be told, he was ‘effing’ over my whingeing and carrying on about all the chores I had to do and how tired I was.
He didn’t know how to help me anymore and to be honest he was dreading coming home to me because when he got home, he was handed a child, grunted at and told what to do (which he hated) and his day would end with falling asleep exhausted on the couch after the kids were in bed, dragging himself to bed, only to then get up at 4am and do it all over again.
Weekends, if he wasn’t working, involved taking care of the kids (his version of it – very different to mine), helping around the house (his version of helping), looking after the 1 acre yard and all that involves – pool cleaning, gardens, mowing, general maintenance, renovations etc. And listening to – as well as not knowing how to fix – his screaming, crying and tantrum driven children, and worn out wife.
Were either of us enjoying ourselves? I’m sure we were at times, but it all stacked up for both of us pretty quickly.
The point is, we both had our gripes. We were both under pressure. We both felt hard done by in our own ways, and had we not had good communication skills at that point, things could’ve been a whole lot worse.
Thankfully, out of my own overwhelm and eventually mental and emotional breakdown (but that’s another story), I began saturating myself with personal development information that forced me to take an objective, hard look at myself and also the relationship dynamics around me.
I quickly learnt what was causing so many of the arguments, disconnection and conflict that was starting to frequent our relationship, and I wanted to share them with you today, and over the next 9 days.
So where to start?
Well, the beginning is really all about YOU!
Now I know that you’re not going to like that very much because you know, you want your partner to change and when we have gripes with our partner, we’re in that point of view that they need to change as well, and that could very well be true.
So I’m not saying that you are the only person that needs to always change in the relationship. Yes, the other side may need to change as well, but I’m only talking to you. I’m working with you, and you can only working with you. Because there is one thing you absolutely MUST do if you intend on getting anything out of this program. That is…
TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
You cannot control your partner’s action, but you can always control yours. How you think, how you feel and how you act and react, is ALWAYS up to you. Mindset is going to be EVERYTHING if you wish to improve your relationship.
So here are the top 4 things you have to take responsibility for and STOP YOURSELF FROM DOING if you want to improve your relationship. Don’t think about whether your partner is doing it or not, or whether they even should do it or not. Just YOU do it first and see what happens.
1. Get out of victim / poor me viewpoint.
The mind will always find more and more evidence of what you have your attention on. So often, we get stuck viewpoints that only show us how bad we have it and how someone is doing something TO us. From this place, there are no solutions, there are no pathways out. We become victims of our circumstances and no changes occur. You’ve got to stop this. Now, I’m not talking about just accepting where you’re at and putting up with it, doing nothing about it. Far from it. I’m talking about the mindset that wants to do, what I call, ‘Roll in the mud’ and only whinges, complains, moans, judges, criticises, blames, and makes everything the fault of the other person. They’re doing ‘that’ TO ME.
You are a part of the relationship too, as we will be exploring, so you want to start taking responsibility for your part and thinking about how you can also become part of the solution, rather than stuck in the problem and how you ‘can’t do anything about it’.
Think in a solution focussed way instead. What do I want? How can I get it? Where is the answer here? Questions like that help the mind to be a lot more productive in getting results.
2. Don’t stack until you crack
I remember at around 4pm every afternoon, making a mental list of all the shit things that had happened in my day, wrapping them up into a nice tight little mental ball, and throwing it right at Steve as he walked through the door so he could understand how hard I had it that day. As I stacked up these ‘shit things’, I would also get crankier and crankier.
We often stack until we crack with our partners and what we think they’re doing wrong, with our kids and how many times they’ve annoyed us or been naughty, or how many chores we need to do, or how much we’re not getting done, or how hard we’ve had it all of our lives because of bad experiences. We live our lives as if these bad things are the only things that have happened to us.
We continue to stack up these lists of negativity that cause us to feel angry, annoyed, tired, overwhelmed and more! Then we project that at our partners and become a nightmare to live with and they’re probably doing the same thing to you, but someone has to break the cycle and this is why we’re starting with you because you’re the one who’s doing the program. Today, become aware of when you do this and try to stop yourself from doing it and see if it makes a difference to how you feel and how you respond to your partner.
3. We personalize and make assumptions.
Your partner comments about how dirty the fan is. All of a sudden, that comment means that you’re not doing a good enough job at cleaning the house, you’re a shit parent and you’re not good enough at taking care of the family. You should be doing more than you are!
You create this whole story that just came from this one comment about a fan being dirty.
We assume that our partner’s comment = a personal judgement or an attack.
Does that sound familiar?
Recognise today how often you personalise or make assumptions about your partner’s comments or actions, when you really don’t know what’s going on inside their head.
Are you looking through old reference points you have of them, or making assumptions based on past behaviours or opinions your partner has had before? The mind loves to put things in boxes like that and it experiences as if it’s happening in real time, and often, it’s not!
4. We only view life from our beliefs, perspectives and experiences.
We are ALL guilty of this one, because that’s how the brain thinks. It’s always thinking – what does this mean and what does it mean about me? It’s looking to understand a situation, so we can decide what to feel and do about it.
When we forget to look objectively at a situation or only view it through the filters of our beliefs and judgements, we can miss key information and solutions that create alignment in your relationship.
So today, your homework is to recognise these 4 mistakes that we make, and think about how you can stop yourself from making those mistakes today and moving forward. Take note of how much of a difference just this small effort makes to the usual outcome with your partner, or even with your kids.
Today’s lesson is all about personal responsibility and BEing the change you wish to see in your relationship.
In tomorrow’s lesson….
We are going to help you to step up that personal responsibility we’re going to really focus in on what you want.
So often in our relationships, we’re focussing in on what we don’t like, what we don’t want, what’s going wrong, all those things that are causing us pain and conflict, but we don’t often look at what the ideal is.
Where are you going? If you want things to change, what does that look like? What is that picture?