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So often I see couples that have developed a habit of yapping back and fourth at each other, neither one acknowledging the others' thoughts or feelings and neither one feeling heard. They just keep talking stating the same thing over and over, this way or that way, hoping to get their point across. When they begin to use this technique they soon realize how easy it is to hear and be heard - their emotional need to be understood is met, and the conversation doesn't escalate into anger, frustration and hurt feelings.

The conversation might continue like this:

Person B
I'm really sorry if I have offended you or not made the effort to understand you. That wasn't my intent.
Person A
I'm sorry too. I just want to work together and be an equal partner in the relationship.
Person B
I know you're not the problem. We both have to work at this relationship. I'll try harder to treat you with respect and to be responsible.

Now isn't that different than it might have been if Person B had flown into a rage and attacked back at person A? Make a commitment to be the one who keeps calm and tries to bring the conversation back into a positive light. Negative responses will not create positive solutions.

Taking Responsibility

Every problem is a two-way transaction. Each person involved is responsible for part of it. Playing the "Blame Game" is not only unproductive, but it's dishonest. Whenever you find yourself expecting the other person to "change" in order to "fix" the problem, you are avoiding taking responsibility for your own behavior or attitude. In all situations you must self-reflect and be willing to confess your wrong doing and commit to change your bad habits and negative influences. Always be willing to ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I fly off the handle? Is this a pattern for me?
  • Do I have a need to be right? Has my need to be right become more important than my relationship, more important than my happiness?
  • Do I have a need to win the argument? Is this reflection of insecurity destroying my ability to create positive, peaceful feelings in the family?
  • Do I tend to blame others instead of attempting to see how I need to improve?
  • Are my expectations too high for this person? Am I willing to see if this is true?
  • How can I do things differently this time so that we don't have a problem?
  • How can I try to make my child/partner feel listened to this time?
  • How will I behave differently next time to prevent a negative interaction?


Solutions are reached by creating a situation in which all parties get their most important needs met. No solution can be amenable to all, if only one person's needs are being met. Therefore compromise on both sides is a good way to assure that everyone is giving, as well as getting, something positive from the relationship.

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