We can all think of a nosy neighbor (or at least one on TV) that is constantly “looking over the fence” to check out what the other neighbors are doing. Usually that includes pointing out what the other neighbors are doing wrong. That nosy neighbor is so busy paying attention to what everyone else is doing wrong that she forgets to take a look at what’s happening on her side of the fence.
Couples therapists know this situation all too well. There’s no physical fence, but it happens often when couples come in for therapy and say something like, “I need you to fix him.” Like the nosy neighbor, partners can usually list off a bunch of problems about the other partner. “He never listens to me. She doesn’t help me with anything. He doesn’t communicate.” The list goes on.
We are so quick to “look over the fence” and make note of all the things our partner is doing wrong. It’s definitely a lot easier that way! But, where do you fit in?
It brings this quote to mind: “You can’t control others, but you can control you respond.” If we can take a look within, we have more control of enhancing the relationship.
Think: What could I being doing differently? How can I make changes to better the relationship? What is my role in the distress?
Oftentimes when we take the time and energy to better ourselves within a relationship, our partners will take notice. Think of it as a ripple effect. We don’t have control over another person, but we do have control over ourselves. So scan your side of the fence and do some clean up. Odds are that your partner will notice and might be motivated to clean up their side too!
If you could use some help cleaning up your side of the fence, reach out to one of our counselors. We would love to help!