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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 5, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 49
INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES - Relationship Inventory: How hard are you working?
Section One
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INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES - Relationship Inventory: How hard are you working?

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

Most of us go to work every day and most of us are familiar with the process of setting goals and working towards those goals to make our work successful. Interestingly, however, a lot of people do not carry this concept over to their relationships.

Establishing a relationship does not mean that there is no more work to be done. Relationships get into trouble and sometimes end because one or both individuals have stopped working on the relationship. What is implied is, 'I have a relationship now' and by being in that relationship, there is nothing more to do.

Two of the most important skills in a relationship are assessment and adaptability.

Assessment is the ability to sit down and discuss how well the dynamics are going in the relationship and where there are concerns. These dialogues should identify what is working well and where there are struggles. It is important to identify both successes and struggles because knowing what and how you communicate well can be applied to problem areas. Struggles are important to talk about because if they don't get addressed and cleared up, they can lead to resentments and ongoing problems.

The best strategy to use in assessing your relationship is 'questioning.' Be curious and ask questions about the other's perceptions and feelings. Query as to why perceptions might be different. Delve into your own self and ask what you are thinking and why you might be reacting the way you are. Much can be learned about self and others by asking questions.

Like any process, assessment should be ongoing. Couples should make it a habit of checking in on a regular basis to see how things are going. These conversations should happen several times a year.

Adaptability is the skill that is required to make change. Once you have identified struggles and what you do well in a relationship, you can adapt to different ways of doing things to make the relationship dynamics more successful. If one is not adaptable, then problematic dynamics will become more and more a part of the relationship. Like anything, the more you practice something, the better you are at it and this does apply to dysfunctional dynamics in a relationship.

If you are not adapting and making changes in your relationship, you should be concerned. There are two scenarios that are a part of adaptability: circumstances and personal growth.

On a day-by-day basis, individuals react to a plethora of things in their lives such as work stressors, health issues, and other relationship dynamics. Our reactions to these variables inevitably come into the relationship and the ability of individuals to adapt to these will influence the dynamics in the relationship.

Over time, most of us grow in some ways. Sometimes our needs change. It is common for our interests to vary or our personal style to become different than what another is familiar with. Regardless of the details, if individuals in a relationship cannot adapt to these personal changes, conflict can occur.

I encourage everyone in any kind of relationship to take a look at how hard they are working at the relationship and to consider these variables. Assessing and adapting can make the difference between success and failure in a relationship.

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, is a therapist and a Contributing Writer to the SGN. He writes a bi-monthly column in the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at Michael.Raitt@comcast.net.

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