This reality is a source of power in our relationships. It’s what makes us both crave and hate relationships. If you’ve ever done any kind of partner dancing–ballroom, western or just shuffling together to music–you already know how relationships work.
When your partner or you moves, the other person is affected. Unavoidably. Sometimes this is a great affect; sometimes not. Relationships are about connection. Your actions impact your partner, just as your partner’s actions impact you. Therapists frequently suggest that just one partner come in alone, if the other won’t, and that’s because everyone counts. One simple change in a partner’s behavior can have major power.
Whether you participate, how you participate, when you participate–it’s amazing the choices you have. Just by changing the way you interact, you can have a drastic impact on your mate. That doesn’t mean you have control over your partner–it means, however, that you have control, to a large extent, over you.
You may not be able to make your partner do what you think he or she should do. You are not all-powerful. You do not get to direct the behavior of others. But you do get to control your behavior and I spend of lot of therapy time convincing people that THIS can make a big difference in your life.
The trouble often is that we don’t want to change our actions, just our mates. Sort of like turning the boat without moving the rudder. The two are connected. In order to change your experience, you have to change your behavior. Sometimes the choices are tough and not our first preference–but their still choices and we still have the power to make them. I know it often doesn’t feel like you have power in your relationships…and you don’t have the power to make someone do what they absolutely will not do. But you do have the power to leave if the situation isn’t good for you and isn’t changing. You get to end the relationship dance.
Therapists never get to choose what you’re going to do. That’s totally your choice, as it should be. This is your life.
I personally don’t want the power over your life. I just want to listen, support and give suggestions. Then you get to decide how you want to dance or whether you want to, at all. One way or the other, never forget that you have power.