Couple and Marital Conflict

Can This Relationship be Saved?

Stop Blaming the "Other" Solve Your Relationship Problems

The marital relationship is a tug of war for power and control. When one member of the relationship is more dominant or doesn't permit the expression for the self or the other, the relationship will experience a halt in emotional growth of the individuals and the couple will begin to experience disappointment, fear, and worry. Anger will become the predominant emotion which will envelop the relationship leaving the couple with a sense of utter despair, confusion and just feeling hopeless.

At this point, many couples think about leaving the relationship because they just can't understand and work with the dynamics in the relationship and can't tolerate their conflicted feelings. The impulse to run away is paramount, but the reality is you can not run away from yourself. It is essential that you know what your part is in the relationship that makes it not work for you. When each member of the couple can face their inner feelings and behavior patterns and takes responsibility for their actions leaving the blame behind, the couple has the opportunity for the marriage or relationship to be repaired.

Questions and Statements That Will Help You Take Responsibility and Stop the Blaming

  1. Are you allowing yourself to feel both positive and negative feelings towards your self and your partner?
  2. Did anyone from your family of origin have similar problems with relationship? Did they resolve them? If they did not, we find ourselves repeating the same patterns.
  3. Begin to think about how you will begin to take responsibility for your part in the problem. Ask how could you change your action or reaction to a problem?
  4. Ask yourself what is your part in your relationship not working? (eg. are you too passive, dominant, dependent, independent, aggressive, do you not listen, can you feel the other person's feelings, can you be empathic,). List them.
  5. Decide to change them one at a time. Talk with your partner and share your feelings about your responsibility and your part in the problem.
  6. Don't expect immediate results- Be consistent and realistic in your actions and reactions.
  7. Learn to nuture yourself. Do things that make you feel good both physically and mentally. Making behavior and character changes requires a great deal of energy; therefore, caring for yourself in a nurturing way will promote the growth for`these changes.
  8. If you find yourself getting stuck and not able to make changes, seek therapy.

Suggestion: If you begin to blame the other for a problem, stop and ask yourself. "What is my part in making and continuing the problem." Use your energy to figure your part rather than accuse or criticize the other. Once you have figured your part inappropriate actions, share your thoughts and feelings with your partner and make the behavior changes.


by Patricia Pitta Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

There have been many books, research articles and much media coverage attempting to define the differences between the sexes in relation to communication style, perceptions and the way one views his/her life. This theme is a constant in popular men's and women's magazines. Men and women have been puzzled about the differences between the sexes and how we interact for generations. A patient once asked me, "Can men and women ever find an "emotional place" where they are peaceful with themselves and each other?"

As a result of the women's movement that began over 30 years ago, many women have become financially independent; therefore, affording them the ability to begin to feel emotional freedom (freedom to choose). This emotional freedom has enabled women to redefine their roles in marriage. Also they have learned to get their needs met. As a result of women feeling more powerful, new demands, pressures and perspectives have been placed on the marital bond. Women want the ability to further develop their emotional awareness, and sense of personal freedom with their mate.

The men's response to female pressure has been to begin their own emotional awareness movement. This movement is enabling men to get in touch with their male and female power in different ways. The effect is that men are relating more effectively. They are able to have more satisfying relationships in all arenas of life, particularly, in their personal relationships. Men's emotional awareness is peaking and men are trying to meet the women's emotional needs. As a result, men are now requiring women to meet their emotional and companionship needs. This is a dance of growth and development rather than the typical dance for power and control.

Therefore, to become Gender Wise, do the following:

  • Respect each other's differences.
  • Don't try to change the other. You can only change yourself.
  • Ask for what it is you want and need in the relationship, rather than wait for the other to do "IT." You might be waiting a life time.
  • Learn from your spouse's strengths. Put simply,"Copy your spouse's strengths."
  • Men can learn to express themselves by imitating their wife's or girlfriend's style of communication.
  • Women can learn to deal with issues in practical and functional ways as their husband or boyfriend deals with problems. Men are great fixers!
  • Whatever you do, don't scream, yell, curse or be sarcastic. As the saying goes, "You get more from honey than from a lemon."

The ancient philosopher Lao Tsu said, "Wise men bind with their plights while fools fight for their rights." That means in this context: men and women, stop fighting and change yourself and appreciate your differentness.