Dysfunction in a love relationship? Who is really to blame? It happens all the time, as a matter fact dysfunction in love relationships is so common that we have a high divorce rate still in America. The dysfunction obviously begins way before the divorce proceedings.
Who is to blame for dysfunction in a love relationship?
Here we talk about dysfunction in love relationships and the responsibility that comes when we try to change our current and past patterns of love. Relationships are hard. No matter what you read about in popular magazines, positive thinking books. Relationships are hard work. At least if you want a good one. Just like having a great body is really hard work.
So if you’re in a difficult relationship, who is to blame for the dysfunction in your love life? About four years ago, a couple came into my office because they were on the verge of divorce. The wife was an emotional spender, leading them to financial ruin, and the husband drank too much on weekends for her liking.
We love to find the scapegoat to pin all the blame
So they came in trying to figure out who was to blame for the relationship. Of course, that’s what we love to do. Find the scapegoat. And after four weeks of working together, I came to them with the conclusion that is the same conclusion I come with to every couple who is struggling with their love life. Neither of you is the victim, and neither of you is the main source of the problem.
They looked at me like I had 17,000 heads.“What do you mean by that?“, The wife said. “My spending is nowhere near as damaging to our relationship as his weekend drinking.“ That response was not a surprise, but what I said back surprised the hell out of both of them.
“Listen, you guys have been together for 15 years, and for 10 of those 15 years, you’ve been in complete disarray. Not trusting each other. Filled with resentment. You will have a month or two or three months as you told me where things were good but there are 12 months in a year, which means the next nine months sucked. Now those are your words, not mine. So the reality is, for you both to stay together for this long in a dysfunctional relationship, says that you both have 50% responsibility for the dysfunction you’re currently feeling, and have felt in the past.“
It’s easier to be a victim than accepting your own dysfunction
If two people who are struggling in love, continue to stay without reaching out for intense, long-term counseling help, then they both are equally defective in the area of relationships. Now, this is good news, because you can’t point your finger and blame the alcoholic when you have enabled them by staying in the relationship for 15 years. And likewise, you can’t blame the emotional spender who’s draining your bank accounts, because you stayed with them for years upon years upon years as they’ve acted out in their own personal Addiction.
It literally took this couple, when I started to work with them one on one, another four weeks before they could grasp what I was saying. And the reason for that? It’s so much easier to be a victim, to project that the problem in the relationship is the partner, and not ourselves.
Understand that you both have equal roles in the dysfunction
But let me repeat this because it’s crucial for everyone to really take in and to absorb. If you are in a long-term relationship that is not healthy, you both have equal roles in the dysfunction, no one is worse than the other.
You may have an alcoholic, who is with a codependent that is afraid to rock the boat and to set serious boundaries and consequences.
You might have the emotional spender, who’s with a codependent, in the same situation, afraid to rock the boat and end the insanity. And as I continued working with the couple above, they made a dramatic turnaround. It ended up taking about 12 months of work, but they were able to drop their anger, resentment, victimhood and blame, accept their own dysfunction in the love relationship and finally bring it back to square one, healthy, respectful and loving. It was worth the work, it was worth the effort, and you can have the same.
Final take away
Once you put in adequate time with a counselor, you might also come to the conclusion that the relationship had an expiration date that you both ignored, and that you should have ended it years ago, and you make the decision now to move away respectfully, hopefully learning from this experience so you don’t repeat it again. Either way, you both win in love.
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More by David Essel