Are you ready for some football?! It’s that time of year, and as a Chicago Bears fan, I’m excited about this season. With the edition of Jay Cutler at quarterback, I’m hoping the Bears drastically improve their performance in the Red Zone, converting on third down and running the two minute drill. If the Bears (or any team) want to be successful in football, they have to consistently execute in those critical areas.
Likewise, if we want to be successful in relationships, we too, must consistently execute and perform in some critical areas. However, most of us guys know more about football than we do about love and intimacy! For example, if I asked you to come up with ten things a football team has to do to win and ten things a man must do to succeed in love, which would be easier for you? Even though I am a relationship coach, the football list is easier for me!
But that is tragic because no matter how much it upsets us when our team loses, it’s nothing compared to the heartache and misery that we experience when our love life fails. So, over the next few editions of this blog, I am going to discuss a number of commitments that we must make if we want to be successful in our love lives.
Commitment # 1: Stop Blaming and Take Responsibility
I’m going to pull a Nancy Reagan here and tell you to “just say no” to blame. You will never have even a decent relationship, much less a great one, if you play the victim by blaming your partner for your feelings, problems or experiences. If you can make a commitment to yourself, that you will never, ever, under any circumstances, blame your partner for anything, your love life will radically be transformed. This is like the commitment to stopping the run in football. You can’t win with out it.
But what do you do when you are absolutely, positively certain that something is your partner’s fault? Well, first, keep your commitment. Don’t blame. Just don’t go there. Don’t let the words come out of your mouth. Instead, redirect that accusation energy and use it to fuel deep self-inquiry. In other words, turn your certainty into curiosity. Ask yourself this mind-blowing question: “How might I be responsible for what’s occurring?”
I know how bizarre this sounds. When I first heard the principle that we are 100% responsible for our reality, I thought it New Age mumbo-jumbo. But when I actually investigated a situation or two that I was sure was someone else’s fault, I always found that I either allowed, invited or required things to be exactly as they were. My curiosity led me to see that I had, in fact, set the whole thing up. This doesn’t mean that our partner (or anyone else) doesn’t have their part, for they too are 100% responsible. It just means that without us, things would not be unfolding as they are. Let me give you an example.
I once worked with a couple that was on the verge of divorce because the husband had found out that over their 20 year marriage, his wife had about a dozen affairs. When I first talked to him, he was, of course, terribly hurt, but he also saw himself as the total victim of her behavior and blamed her for ruining their lives. “How could she do this to me?” he said. As we talked, I asked him to tell me about the early days of their relationship, back when they were dating. He said, “We broke up three different times when we were dating because I caught her seeing other guys.”
He knew exactly who she was before they got married! She was simply continuing to be the woman she always was. How then could he claim to be the victim and blame her for his pain? He set the whole thing up. He chose to date and then marry a girl who was a committed cheater. As Jimmy Buffet said, “Some people say that there’s a woman to blame, but I know, it’s my own damn fault.”
Now, is she responsible for her behavior? Of course she is. She was a relationship addict. She certainly had issues. But the critical point is this: None of it could have occurred without him choosing to ignore who he knew her to be. Does this mean he should stay married to her? No! It means he can take responsibility for how he created the mess and for what he wants to do about it now. In the most literal sense, this is absolute freedom.
And this freedom is only available to those who “just say no” to blame and instead inquire, investigate and wonder about how they are responsible for what is occurring in their lives. This is, without question, the most challenging commitment that we will discuss, but living it brings maybe the greatest, most profound results. If you have questions about this, I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to explore it further with you.