You are Not the Problem in Your Relationship

I never say never. I always interrupt couples who struggle with the word "always".

So I'm going to break my own rules. 

Marital and relationship challenges can never be boiled down to a singular problem. They are always complex, always interpersonal, and always boast more layers than an onion. 

There's a devious little myth in the mental health world that our problems can be reduced to just a few ingredients. One of those ingredients is a problem in personality, or in differences between personalities.

The problem in our marriage is that you are a narcissist.

The problem in our marriage is that I have borderline personality disorder.

The problem in our relationship is that you are just an angry person.

The problem in your marriage is exactly that. The problem in your marriage.

It takes two to tango, as they say. But, I'm very resistant to a culture that is quick to diagnose and slow to provide solutions. Rarely, if ever, are problems within non-violent intimate relationships the result of one partner's personality problems, or even the other partner's responses to those personality problems. 

Marital and relational challenges are too complex too diminish to a single ingredient. Of course, each person's unique personality has a role to play in creating relationship challenges, but relationship challenges take on a life of their own. Each person plays a role.

That's why my client is always the relationship. 

We create the problems between us. Those problems are informed by what goes on within me and within you, and our conflict, like our connection, is a dance that is uniquely ours. 

Dr. Mathis Kennington