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Feb 15 2010

How to Read Your Relationship Clearly, Find the Breakthrough Point You Need, And Take the Next Step.

Published by at 6:43 pm under Advice

People go into their professions for personal reasons. Whatever work we learn to do, it’s often work we’re drawn to. There’s something about it that fascinates us. I went into psychology because I was fascinated by relationships. One of my earliest memories is lying in bed and listening through the walls to one of my parent’s arguments and trying to figure out what was going on.  To be fair to them, I also remember lying in bed late at night and hearing my fathers low voice and then my mother’s laughter. But the fascination was the same: How did that relationship work?

Sixty years later I’m still listening to relationships and thinking about how they work. I became a psychologist in 1978 with a focus on marriage and family. Since the mid-1990’s I’ve focused on how people create relationships after divorce and since 2000 or so I’ve been online as Dr. Belove (my real family name).  By 2010, I’d worked with over 3500  people answering questions and collecting their stories.

Sometimes I’ve wondered  how best to explain what I did.  I wasn’t promising to help someone create the love for all eternity. I don’t think that’s a promise anyone can deliver on.  All I wanted to do was to show them how to keep the relationship on track. A relationship is like a child. It has a life and soul of its own. All you can do is help it stay true to itself and be what it wants to be, and this has to be done one step at a time.  It seemed to me that the secret to successful relationship coaching was to help the partners figure out how to help the relationship take that next step, just one more step in the right direction, whatever that was.  To do that you had to be able to see where the relationship was standing already.

It’s a strange thing: These people who have interacted with each other for months or years, who know the ten thousand small things about each other, ask me, a total stranger, completely new to their situation, for help in figuring things out.  Stranger still, I am often effective. I do help clarify their reading of the situation and, together, we find good ways to right the situation. How can that be?

When relationship partners come to me for help they have access to the trial and error experience of lots of other people. The best way to learn is through other people’s experience. That’s how even surgeons learn. They watch a lot.  That is how we all learn.  Trial and error learning on your own is a very expensive way to learn anything for lots of reasons. First of all it’s like re-inventing the wheel.  It’s not necessary. One time I was in a class in how to draw. We were all beginners and the man at the table with me worked very slowly and never used his erasure. On the third day I asked him what he did for work and he said he was a retired cosmetic surgeon. You never want to hear your surgeon say “oops!”

You don’t always know if the couples will make it through their struggles. You don’t always know whether the friendships will continue or end bitterly or just dribble out. But you can know a lot.  That’s because there really are only a handful of basic themes.   We all know this in a vague way. After hearing a few thousand stories, I know it in a more precise way and by the time you’ve read this postings, you’ll also know in a more precise way.

Often I don’t make suggestions; I just give a structure to the problem.  I connect the dots. I find a pattern in all the small pieces. I help them read the relationship.

My goal here is to share with you some of the tools I’ve developed.  These tools should help you read the relationships you are in. Then you can use them to help yourself.  You can also use them to help your friends. You know the old saying, “Give a person a fish and that person can eat for that day; teach that person to fish and they can eat for their lifetime.”  I’m writing this with a similar idea in mind.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “How to Read Your Relationship Clearly, Find the Breakthrough Point You Need, And Take the Next Step.”

  1. Fishcakeon 03 Apr 2010 at 8:41 am

    No matter what others say, I think it is still interesting and useful maybe necessary to improve some minor things

  2. adminon 17 Apr 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Absolutely. The web site is still under construction and I hope to have an article up there about the early warning signs. I’ve found that people almost always can see trouble coming. I know that some surveys show that far more women than men see trouble coming. but still, both have that sensitivity. And if you catch stuff early, before feeling run high and before you’ve made things worse, there’s a lot you can do, small things that make a big difference.
    Thanks.
    Philip

  3. iLLNESSon 17 Apr 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this?

  4. adminon 17 Apr 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Dear Illness, Thanks for appreciating my work.
    I can do it because I’m an old master. I’ve been studying this stuff since the early 90’s, probably read 80% of the significant academic books on it, talked to a few thousand people, and, for me, relationships are a form of yoga, a spiritual path. When relationships are a spiritual path, then all struggles are meaningful. Just think about what you are willing or not willing to do in the name of Love.
    Thanks for your comment