One thing I always assess when a couple comes to see me for counseling is how they present their struggle to connect. Do they describe the struggle as a mutual struggle or do they just describe what each partner is not getting in the relationship?
Me issues are presented as something you are getting that you don’t want, for instance, “He gets angry whenever I discuss our relationship.” or something you are not getting, for instance, “She never reaches out to me, I always am the one reaching out to her.”
Me issues are presented from your point of view. Often they are presented aggressively with a tone of frustration or anger. The implied message is that I am not getting something I deserve in this relationship.
We issues are quite different. The frustration is presented as a shared experience. The desire is for each to find a way to contribute to a better connection. The blame for the relationship dissatisfaction lies in the relationship, not in one partner’s shortcomings.
One partner says, “We’ve lost the connection we once had.” and the other adds, “Yes, it seems as though we are living as roommates instead of lovers.” Such a presentation implies that each are ready to join in an effort to improve their relationship and are not so interested in parceling out blame.
Moving from me to we
Start with how you view the problems in your marriage. Ask yourself how you have contributed to these issues. Then, ask yourself how you will need to contribute to a solution to the problems you face.
Next, ask yourself what your partner’s views, feelings and desires are for resolving this issue. How might you let him or her know that you can see the issue from more than one perspective.
Finally, ask yourself, “Do I want to get what I want or what is best for the relationship?”