Individual solutions to relationship problems
The hunt for the real causes of a serious relationship problem is further complicated by this question: is it me or is it my partner (that is causing the majority of the problem)? Based on my experience in working with couples of all ages and backgrounds, the responsibility is usually shared by both parties. By definition, relationships involve at least two people. It is logical that, by action or by omission, both parties are contributing to make the relationship dysfunctional.
In a sense, the parties are both principal actors and script-writers in their play and thus co-create nearly every bit of the situations, circumstances, reactions and difficulties that they are experiencing. The pain and the hurt are mutually inflicted. It should be possible to realize what’s happening, review the script, change it into something more effective and more enjoyable, and put a stop to the patterns of mutual destruction. Unfortunately, though, the scriptwriters often appear to lose their ability to rewrite the play and are seemingly condemned to play the same painful scenes over and over again. Why?
Often, the explanation is that there is indeed something that stands in the way of adopting more effective relationship strategies. That something does not originate from the relationship itself. Rather, it is brought into the relationship by the individuals themselves. Thus, solving relationship problems is made more difficult, and sometimes impossible, if one or both partners have brought into the relationship a co-occurring mental health issue: anxiety, panic, depression, bipolar, borderline, past abuse or trauma, drug or alcohol dependence, personality disorders, attachment style problems. In this case, it is important to isolate and identify these serious issues, and treat them adequately, either in concurrence with couples counseling or, more appropriately, in individual counseling.