Nobody warns you about it when you make that big commitment. And years later – when the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan – mum’s the word.
Friends. Family. Mentors. They all dropped the ball on this one. Meanwhile your Real Relationship Enemy lurks, silently weaving it’s dark disaster.
But it’s not what you might think ….
It’s not the other man – or woman.
Now don’t get me wrong. The presence of a third person in your committed relationship is a real problem – and not one to be ignored. Your heart is crushed and your relationship needs TLC – pronto. I’m just saying that the Real Enemy of Your Relationship paved the way for that vile intruder to slither in. I’m suggesting that a hidden saboteur preceded the very visible present problem. Maybe the real enemy was cloaked in distraction, avoidance, or disconnection on both sides of the relationship.
So here’s the next surprise…
It’s not that Problem Child you fell in love with.
Shocking, but true. After all, your man did a terrible thing that crushed your heart. Or your woman consistently stomps on your self-esteem. Every. Single. Day. Clearly your partner has Issues! Anyone can see that. (Plenty of people have seen it). What am I thinking? Only that the Real Enemy of your Relationship lulled you into tolerating something that needed real attention – months, or maybe even years, ago. Allow me to be blunt: your relationship’s real enemy is something very different from that man or woman you love. And it’s not even you!
We’re getting warmer…
It’s not her habit or his personality.
If your loved one is not the problem, surely their bad habits or dysfunctional personalities are. Well, maybe not. I can tell this will be a hard sell, as the facts are clearly stacked against me. He’s a flaming alcoholic. She’s a flagrant narcissist. He’s a chronic gambler. She’s a shopping addict. He’s an emotional basket case. I must be nuts. Yet I see a problem we haven’t mentioned – something that involves your own response. And I maintain that the Real Enemy of Your Relationship is not a habit or an addiction or a dysfunctional personality type – however onerous each may be.
So let’s pause, and take a deep breath before the big reveal…
The Real Enemy of Your Relationship is …
Not a third party, however disgusting.
Not your spouse or partner or you, however messed up.
Not his or her habit, however vile.
Not even his or her personality, however disturbed.
The Real Enemy of Your Relationship is a Process!
Yep, I’m serious. My epiphany came during my own marriage. After years of agony, I finally realized the futility of blame. As long as the finger was pointed at a person or a habit or a personality trait, nothing positive happened between us. Fortunately a moment of clarity eventually dawned. And this truth was etched into our minds and hearts: Your Real Relationship Enemy is a process that involves each of you. And learning to apply that truth transformed our relationship. Maybe it will transform yours.
What Identifying Our Real Relationship Enemy Does…
Mistaking our real enemy can quickly destroy a relationship, because we channel our attack in the wrong direction. We prematurely banish people from our lives. Or we try to shame or bully them into change. Or we tolerate dangerous dysfunction to our own peril. Meanwhile our personal loneliness expands. All because we identified the wrong relationship enemy.
Yet hope dawns when we realize that the real enemy of any relationship is a process. And a process can change much faster than a personality or a habit or even a human. Because we can kick start a process change.
Your alcoholic may not change, but you can change your response to him – becoming less enabling. A process change that invites him to take responsibility for his drinking problem. Your partner may not become less narcissistic, but you can change your response to her – becoming less of a doormat. A process change which confronts her lack of empathy or excessive grandiosity or entitlement.
By tweaking your part of the process, you invite your partner to take responsibility for their personal change. And you clear your vision for an effective relationship assessment. This opens the door to potential reconciliation. It also reveals whether or not continued relationship effort is worth it. But you’ll never be able to make this wise assessment until you first identify the real enemy of your relationship.
The Real Enemy of Your Relationship is a process, often sly and sneaky. Real relationship transformation is not about changing your partner. It’s about changing a process – that involves each of you. And one of you can kick start the process change. Why not you?
What do you think about the Real Enemy of Your Relationship?
If your Relationship With Yourself needs help, I encourage you to explore couples counseling.
And if my words resonate with you, I invite you to contact me.