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ICSE > ICSE Articles > Relationships > The Big Question for Any Relationship

The Big Question for Any Relationship

I’ve got one big question. It’s a question that will make everything in your relationship completely worthwhile… even the bits that get on your nerves and cause you head and heart aches…

It’s the type of question you wouldn’t ordinarily ask - but that’s okay, because you didn’t know to ask it… until now!

For most people, relationships don’t go smoothly. Undercurrents, disputes, emotions, periods, children, habits, morals, values, work hours and workloads, these are just a few of the kind of things that can cause conflicts. But what if I told you something…

What if I told you it’s not about the issue?

My philosophy is that no issue is bigger than the relationship. If we’re honest it’s never really the issue that causes the problem. What causes the problem is the emotions behind the issue.

And what causes the emotions?

What causes the our relationship conflicts is, at the core, very rarely the issue that’s in front of us now. This may seem hard to take at first so let me explain a little more.

When we react to something someone says or does we are in effect re-acting - behaving in way we acted before. This is what we might call learned behaviour. We may have learned that behaviour in a number of ways: watching our parents behaviour in a relationship, seeing it on TV, our own experience etc.

Are these learned re-actions appropriate in all circumstances?

I’d say no. A few days ago my partner made a sweeping statement that… well… to be frank, pushed all my buttons. What she said was like a red rag to a bull. Thankfully I caught myself before any real damage was done. I immediately knew there was nothing wrong with what she had said, or how she had said it. But the words she used, reminded me of someone else and a pattern of behaviour I ran with them. This is the type of conditioned, unconscious, response I’m talking about.

If your partner presses your buttons does it mean the relationship bad?

Conflict doesn’t have to mean the relationship is bad. It can indicate that you, or your partner, or most probably both of you, on occasions, have some things that you need to become more aware of. If you can begin to view your relationship as a playground to work these things out, the relationship can become a whole new arena of fun and games. And this is where my question can really help…

My question will get you thinking about the how you can help yourself and your relationship become a harmonious haven rather than a gladiator’s ring. It will help you be a more understanding person for your partner and it will help to spare you from saying things you’ll regret later.

The question is profoundly simple. But when you ask it and use the outcome effectively you begin to take your relationship onto a new level. Things that used to cause you problems will vanish. And when new things come up they’ll have very little power.

When you find your buttons have been pushed the question you have to ask is this: What’s this really about?

Simple isn’t it. But it takes you right to the heart of the matter. As I said, relationship conflict is rarely about an issue and more to do with the conditioned responses.

By asking my question what you do is take the conditioned behaviour and transform it into the conscious. In effect what begins to happen is this: you move beyond the past conditioned response that causes conflict and are left with the current issue. This question allows you to understand what’s going on inside you. Knowing this means you can then bypass the past and deal with what is currently before you.

But what if you don’t want to move beyond the past?

Then I guess you’ll continue to re-act it out… until the pain and loss get the better of you.

My very good wishes

Neil

About The Author

Neil Millar
I hope that my newsletter, on creating a better life, will help you create a life you deserve. Find out more at
http://www.neilmillar.net.

Date Posted: May 18, 2007

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