Are All Relationships the Same?

My handyman and I broke up today. I haven’t known him very long but I drove away feeling frustrated, confused, and oddly sad. It’s not like he was my dream handyman. And he did take care of what I needed, albeit not without some serious effort on my part.

So, why did this bother me so much? Well, for one thing, I was trying to tell him what I was upset about and what I needed from him, and apparently I didn’t do such a good job with that. Even though I phrased it as a request, and even though I told myself beforehand to be chill about it and take it lightly. But rather quickly I was reacting to his response (which was pretty minimal) and before I knew it I felt like I was having a fight with my husband. He even said things to me my husband has said in the past: “It’s not what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it.” “I listened to your whole thing, will you let me finish?” “I heard you. What do you want me to say?” “I’m done.”

Hmmm. It’s amazing how even a person who isn’t hugely important in our lives can have such a big impact on our state of mind. No wonder our significant others can send us over the edge! It got me wondering, are all relationships essentially the same? And what’s the common denominator here? Mmm, ummm, uh, ME!

So, how can this aha help me and others be more successful in our relationships, especially with our primary partner? Clearly, taking a look at our own reactions to things is a good starting place. When someone has done something wrong, made a mistake of some kind, intentional or not, there is that powerful space where we get to decide how to respond. Does pushing back on someone else, venting our frustration and upset, pointing fingers or being holier than thou, do anything at all to enhance our lives? I mean really. Anything?

Now I know this and of course, being imperfectly human, I will not always respond to things in my ideal way. But I definitely have found that using some basic tools has led me a long way towards minimal conflict and maximum enjoyment in my relationships, especially with my husband.

Here’s my list:
1) stop and do something else rather than respond from a place of upset (breathe, pray, sing, exercise, etc)
2) remind myself of what’s really important about the particular situation, what am I trying to achieve?
3) remind myself of ways that I appreciate and cherish the other person
4) make a respectful, specific, reasonable request and let go of the outcome
5) be mature and move on

You may have heard this a thousand times before, but here it is again: the only person you can really change, is you. So yes, in one way, all relationships are the same. The one you have with your own responses. And with a bit of regular effort and self-management you can make it the best relationship you’ve ever had.

While Sofia looks for a new handyman, she welcomes individuals and couples seeking better relationships at her SE office next door to the Laurelhurst Theatre. Call her at 503-544-3559, email sofia@peacefull.net or fill out the form on the contact page to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

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