Self sabotaging relationships, are you doing it?
Are you self sabotaging relationships without knowing? Sometimes we do not realize we are self sabotaging relationships. In the past, we’ve discussed the hidden relationship patterns that are hurting your relationships, toxic patterns. We’re going to talk about a relationship pattern, not arguments; this is a little different. This is the ongoing- what do you want, basic, low-grade problems that you just haven’t addressed. Issues that you keep quiet about, just because you don’t want to make waves, you don’t want to rock the boat or issues you think are okay to put off until another time.
The feelings can be anger, but typically we’re talking about more subtle feelings; like walking on eggshells or being annoyed or bored even. If that’s going on, guess what? It’s your problem! I can’t tell you how many times we have people come in to say, “my wife/ my husband….” And they go on and on about their problems. If there’s a chronic problem in your relationship either you’re causing it, or you’re not stopping it. Not addressing it is a problem, it keeps it going, so it’s a problem.
Change How You’re Dealing with the Problem.
You don’t have to change your spouse, that’s the good news. YOU can change how YOU’RE dealing with this pattern, or not dealing with it, and stop it. If people are caught in a rut and have not addressed the problem to stop it, it’s because they value one approach over the other. They value either the aggressive approach or the passive approach, and that’s a problem because you need both! You need to be able to go back and forth between the two, depending on the situation. For example, this is the person who always has a hammer for everything when a wrench would do just fine. Or the person who uses a wrench all the time but they need a hammer. If you are not able to do both, you may be self sabotaging relationships.
Examine the pattern and your role in it. Such as, if you tend to value aggression, you may be the one who is always criticizing, trying to get your S.O. to change, or finding evidence to prove that you’re right; that is all an aggressive approach. People who value aggressive approaches think action is better. They may think it’s more manly, or it’s more valuable. There are good aggressive approaches, which is putting up boundaries.
People who think the passive approach is better, such as people that stay quiet or internalize what they’re feeling. For example, walking on eggshells, they don’t want to bring it up because they don’t want to deal with anger- such as someone being angry at them or the anger they may feel. They’re afraid of the reactions, so they keep it buried. There’s good passivity, and there’s bad passivity, in reality. In sum, if you’re stuck in a pattern, look to see if you value aggressive approaches over passive approaches.
If you notice in yourself, that you’re always aggressive, try a passive approach. If you’re always passive, add a boundary. Try something different; it is definitely something where you can’t always do the same thing for everything. That’s the point you got to be able to look at yourself. Stop trying to change the other person and look at what you’re doing. If you’re doing the same thing over and over, it’s not working. If the pattern is continuing, what you’re doing is not working.
We hear this all time, for example, people say, “If my wife weren’t late to everything, then it would be fine.” It’s as though you can’t stop the pattern without changing your S.O. If she’s late all the time and you keep criticizing her, yelling at her, getting mad at her, and it’s still going on because she’s getting defensive. It’s because that’s not good aggression. What if instead, you used constructive aggression, and you went on without her (setting a boundary). “I’m not going to let you control me with your lateness; I’m going to carry on and go without you.” Then, see how long her being late lasts.
You have to change that pattern and find the one that works for your relationship. That’s why it’s on you to change, not on your wife. Her being late doesn’t bother her, and you keep waiting for her, so she’s fine with it. You’re not fine with it, so you have to change it.
The Duplicitous way of Dealing with a Relationship Issue
We have aggressive maneuvers, we have passive maneuvers, and we have one more, which is a combination, which I call a duplicitous maneuver — the duplicitous way of dealing with a relationship issue. Duplicitous ways are a combination. My favorite one is the most obvious; cheating. Cheating in the broadest sense, whether you’re doing emotional texting, sexting, looking at just looking at porn when you have a wife or partner. Those are all duplicitous because you aren’t sharing your feelings with your partner. You’re not saying, “I miss our sex life, I need more from our sex life or in our intimate life than you’re giving me, can we work that out?” You’re being passive, and then you’re doing the aggressive part of sticking a knife in her throat by cheating and acting out. You’re doing something outside the marriage or breaking a vow; you’re breaking a promise, you’re hurting her, whether she knows it or not, you’re hurting her; that’s duplicitous.
Another Example of Duplicitous Maneuver
Another example of that is, keeping secrets and substances abuse. You’re not talking about the problem, you’re avoiding it, but then you’re hurting yourself.
Keeping secrets, I see a lot with parents who will keep a secret with a child from the other parent. You’re being passive, you’re taking the passive path, you’re not going to tell your wife about the bad grade or the arrest or whatever it is, to protect her but really you’re afraid of her reaction or think you can’t handle that reaction. You’re doing something aggressive by making a pact with someone, making a vow, connecting with someone who that’s not who the vows with; that’s not appropriate, your vows with your wife. Look more closely because you’re somehow valuing passivity in some places and aggression in another place and you got them mixed up.
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