Building a Happy Relationship Starts with You and not your partner

Kit: “But I never asked you to manage me, and I resent it when you do.”

Jessica: “Yes, I know you never asked me to take on that role. I’m not blaming you for doing it. I admit that I take it on whenever I get scared that you’re not going to handle things (in my opinion) correctly.”

Kit: “Well that must be pretty often because we seem to find ourselves in this pattern a lot of the time”.

Jessica: “(Sighing) I guess I have pretty high expectations of you and of myself too. I hate feeling scared and anxious when things look like they’re not going according to plan, my plan usually”.

Kit: (pause, then quietly) “That’s good to hear. Thanks for admitting that. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with whom you’re disappointed and mistrusting. So I make an effort to accommodate you so that you won’t get angry or upset. “

Jessica: “And you end up feeling frustrated and angry yourself because sometimes I’m very hard to please.”

Kit: “Bingo!”

Jessica: “And sometimes, you have to admit, you do give me a reason to not trust that you’re going to keep your word and follow through with your promises.”

Kit: “Bingo again!”

Jessica: “Do you think it would help if I worked on backing off more instead of monitoring you so closely?”

Kit: “Well that’s a big ‘Duh!” Do you think it would help if I were more consistent in keeping my word and actually doing the things that I promised to do in the time frame that I committed to?”

Jessica: “What a concept! Is that even possible?”

Kit: “Don’t get sarcastic now. You were doing pretty good.”

Jessica: “Sorry. I couldn’t resist it.”

Kit: “Seriously, I think we’re on to something here. I would like to step up to the plate in a bigger way. I think that would feel really good. Of course, then I would have to give up blaming you for pushing me and start pushing myself a little more.”

Jessica: “Just a little more?”

Kit: “Hey you’re getting pushy right now!”

Jessica: “I guess sometimes I don’t even see it when I’m doing it.”

Kit: Tell you what: You push me less, and I’ll push me more.

Jessica: “And what if I do my part and you don’t do yours?”

Kit: “ I knew that you were going to go there. If we come to that bridge, we’ll cross it. My request to you is that you stop expecting me to not keep my word and trust that I really mean what I’m saying. Hey, I’m not promising to be perfect to never slip up. I’m just saying that I feel more committed to my own integrity than I ever have before.”

Jessica: I hear that and I believe you. And even though I don’t feel completely certain that we’ve got his one licked yet, I do feel confident that we’ve made some real headway on this one. I’m excited about what we might have to look forward to.”

Kit: “Me too”.

They kiss.


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Written by Linda and Carlie Bloom
Originally appeared in Psychology Today

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Linda and Charlie Bloom
Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW have been trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors and have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975. They have lectured and taught at universities and learning institutes throughout the USA, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, 1440 Multiversity, and many others.  They have taught seminars in many countries throughout the world. They have co-authored four books, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth From Real Couples About Lasting Love, Happily Ever After And 39 Other Myths About Love, and That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They have been married since 1972 and are the parents of two adult children and three grandsons. Linda and Charlie live in Santa Cruz, California. Their website is
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