Irritations In Relationships

The issues that you have been dealing with, trying to fix, or just plain tolerating dissolve/disappear simply in being in relationship

At the beginning of our workshop, “Relationship: The Real Deal,” some participants are startled when we announce this intention: 

“The issues you have been dealing with, trying to fix, or just plain tolerating … dissolve/disappear simply by being in relationship.”

For people who believe that successful relationships require work, that intention seems improbable, even outrageous.

For Paul and me, issues dissolving and disappearing is a daily occurrence.

Recently, I was irritated and annoyed with the pile of clothes  in our bedroom – specifically Paul’s clothes. In the pile were shirts and pants he had worn three days ago!  

Now, I know the “right” way to handle clothes. My grandmother Mimi taught me more than 60 years ago! Put them away! 

I can remember when I blamed Paul for my irritations. I used to demand that he  clean up a mess. I  even tried to extract a promise that he would manage his clothes the right way - my way.

I can also remember times when I just kept quiet to keep the peace in  our marriage. I  was afraid of starting a fight over who gets to say how we deal with messes. And I was resigned to just putting up with the mess.

But this time I said to Paul, “I’m irritated that your clothes are in a heap in our room.”

Paul simply said: “Thank you for telling me.”

Paul didn’t try to change anything. He didn’t resist my being irritated, or defend his actions or deflect blame.  When we both allowed me to be irritated, the irritation dissolved, and the joy of our being related emerged.

In our years of designing and leading workshops at Relationship by Design, it’s become clear to us that upsets, irritations and disappointments will happen in all relationships. They’re completely normal. 

What is not normal is for each of us to be responsible for our reactions rather than blaming the other person for causing them. What is not normal is to let go of trying to fix, change, or tolerate those reactions. What is not normal is to simply communicate our reactions and allow the issues to dissolve. Yet that’s what happened in our relationship just last week.

With love,

Carol & Paul

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