Couples: “It’s Not My Problem. It’s Your Problem.” | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Almanac Online |

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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Couples: “It’s Not My Problem. It’s Your Problem.”

Uploaded: Jun 21, 2018
I was on San Juan Island last weekend for my step son’s high school graduation. It was moving and powerful. He wrote a piece called Bedrock, about the earth beneath us, and to turn to that strength when stressed. He’s sending us a copy.

The weather was amazingly warm and clear. I took my Nikon and photographed lettuce beds, wood fans, flowers, a pink dogwood, and rocks. We stayed with a friend whose husband died suddenly last year; her brother-in-law sent a cedar bench that needed to be assembled and placed at the library. My husband did that with her while I took pictures of that process.

I saw a fox run through the backyard with a meal in its mouth. The fox was red with a puffy multi-colored tail (red, white, black, grey and more). The stars were bright at night and the glow-in-the-dark stars in our room were fun too.

We took the kids to breakfast on Sunday before we caught the ferry. We parked in line and went off to wander along the marina, enjoying the morning and each others’ company. Eventually it was time to say goodbye.

While we were waiting for the cars to be loaded we could hear the couple in the next car: she was in the driver’s seat and he was out of the car (as we were). I heard her tell him, “That’s not my problem, that’s your problem.” I turned to my husband and said, “That’s not something to say or hear in a healthy relationship.”

When in a relationship you’re in each others’ care. What is your concern or problem is your partner’s too. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to decide how a problem will be handled. What I mean by that is you may choose—together—that one or the other of you will deal with a problem, or you’ll do it together, each taking on part of what needs to be resolved. But you won’t reject the opportunity to be in each others’ care. You won’t dismiss your partner’s problems. You won’t step away from your bond and commitment when a problem arises (and they will).

If you’ve been raised to take care of everything yourself (as I was) it can be difficult to let your beloved help. If you were raised such that someone else took care of everything for you, it may be challenging to step up.

But I know you can push yourself out of your comfort zone; I have faith in you. Problems that come to one or the other of you are yours collectively. The sooner you see them that way and learn how to address them as a unit, the better.

Additionally, there are certain issues that each of you may have that are personality traits or traumas from your childhood. You need to work on those. While your partner can help, you have to be the one who chooses to do the hard work to heal and change your behavior. Your partner supports and loves you while you do so.

My dad was bi-polar and left when I was five years old. I loved him so much. I only saw him four or five times after that. I felt and believed that there was something wrong with me, that I was unlovable, for him to leave and rarely see me. I worked on that for a long time. I eventually realized he missed out on me my whole life. My husband helped me with this primary wound in my life. His unfailing love, words of support and affirmation of who I am helped me to heal. It wasn’t “my problem” to deal with on my own.

When you are in a relationship, you get all the baggage your partner carries from life before you met. It can be a little or a lot. You’re the one there now who can help heal hurts and wounds. You heal in relationships as you are wounded in relationships. As you are found trustworthy, your beloved opens up more and more to you, and then the joy can pour in.

I’m not saying any of this is easy. But it’s simple. Be there. Listen. Reflect. Give empathy. Help. Be on your partner’s side (all the time). Share the burdens and the joys of life. Love without judgment Put your marriage first, while taking care of yourself at the same time.
What is it worth to you?


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