I have a magic trick that always works for me in relationship problems.
This is a trick I mainly use in my relationship with my partner Frank. It applies to any kind of relationship, and I use it on other ones too, but for me this trick has come into focus from using it in our life-partner-type relationship. It’s something I’ve used when I have been feeling exasperated, sad or plain desperate about either a specific event or some ongoing thing I’m not happy about.
My experience from using this trick has been to see transformation of the problem… into a non-event or even into a miraculous opposite—some of the developments have amazed me.
One thing though… I have always felt a strong sense of purpose in being with Frank, and we are compatible in many ways (he’s a fantastic person and we love each other to bits). In an intimate relationship, the trick would only work to bring closeness if the basic set-up of the relationship was good anyway. It would at least bring clarity if it wasn’t.
My trick is…
When the person does something, or is something, that I don’t like, I ask myself “why have I attracted that? Why have I got a partner who does X and Y, or doesn’t do Z? What is it about me, that I have drawn this situation to myself? What is it in me that this is reflecting? Can I change, so that the situation changes?”
I don’t really need to know the answers, though these may come at some point and be helpful. I think it’s actually the action of admitting to myself that I have drawn this situation to myself that changes things around.
Doing this trick takes being brutally honest with oneself, which takes quite a bit of courage. It’s so much easier to say the person is being SELFISH, because they DON’T DO THE DISHES. Or that MEN/WOMEN are ALWAYS like this!
So how does it work out?
Let’s say my partner keeps leaving muddy footprints in the house and doesn’t clean them up (I’m choosing something here that Frank would NEVER do!) I might feel unsupported, because I am left to clean them up.
I could “rise above it” and clean them up and say nothing or not much, which would probably lead to some suppressed hostility that might come out later in an argument.
Or I could ask myself “why do I have a partner who doesn’t support me? Am I not supporting myself somehow, and is his behaviour reflecting this? If that’s the case, is there some way I could start supporting myself better? How can I change so I no longer attract this?”
As I already mentioned, I may not get a terribly clear answer… I’ve been supporting myself for years, haven’t I? But something shifts around.
If I do take action, it might be to do something (support myself by asking him directly to clean up the footprints) or to think something (support myself by thinking I deserve to be supported). This leaves me more expanded and healthier… as a by-product of keeping the relationship alive.
All of the above seems to lead to a resolution of the problem, in some way. I’ve found particular issues in our relationship have been totally transformed from doing this—it could be anything from the footprints-caster suddenly washing the floors every day, to me simply not noticing the muddy footprints any more.
Love is a healer
I suspect that it’s being in a very meaningful relationship that can spur us on to really embrace this technique, because we sense that it’s in our best interest to keep the relationship going, and will try ANYTHING to fix things if there’s something wrong. While trying to keep our relationship alive, we end up healing ourselves, which is an example of how love brings about healing, I think.
(And Frank… I just want to say I really appreciate your love, your spirit and your cleanliness around the house!)
This is a photo of Frank and me at pizza night a couple of weeks ago.
If any singles reading this post find it annoyingly couple-centric, I’d know where you are coming from—Frank and I only got together when I was 49-and-a-bit, and I was always single before that. This technique can be used with relatives, friends and shop-keepers, too.
What do you think? Has anyone else been doing this? What other relationship magic tricks do you use?
Hi Robin – This sounds like a good thing to try. I’m going to test it out.
Mind you, my ex husband was such an asshole that I must have done some really bad things to attract him. But this husband is much better, so maybe I’ve improved.
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Cute photo. 🙂
My own trick: I look at him, and remind myself why I love him. This helps me stay calm and avoid snapping at him, which is never helpful.
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It’s all about choice, isn’t it? Whenever I am faced with something the Urbane Lion does that doesn’t sit right with me, I figure out my choices. Let’s pick the Ten Year Old (the Lion’s son) leaving his clothes lying about the house, because he does. I can a) feel resentful that the Lion is not telling the TYO to pick up his clothes b) pick up the clothes myself c) step on the clothes d) let the Lion know it is a pet peeve e) nag the Lion. And, like you said, as soon as I go through this thought process the frustration disappears. POOF! But, I also agree that there has to be a level playing ground in the first place. I need to know that my partner approaches potential conflict in the same way. I was in 2 relationships where it didn’t matter which choice I made, it was always the ‘wrong’ one in the eyes of my partner. BTW, I definitely did *d* and depending on my mood, I might do *b* or *c*, but having done *d*, it’s hardly ever an issue anymore.
Nice pic! Thanks for sharing that.
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@Cath – ha ha – yes you must be a much improved person!! 😀
(Seriously though, for anyone whose new relationship is much better, they would have changed their expectations or self esteem, or something.)
@Vered – thanks about the photo – I’ve just stuck one on my About page, too (I made Frank take it in the kitchen). I do your trick, too.
@Urban Panther – yes – supporting ourselves by saying something works (but in some situations is not easy.) I didn’t realise you had a Little Lion there!
LOL…the Little Lion is a part-timer. Which means I have gone from empty nest (ages 21,22,23) to child at home again. Little Lion!!! I like that. *grin*
I am going to try you magic trick and see where it takes me. The hardest part for me is thinking logically when my emotions take over.
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I like how your questions make me ponder over mine.
And what a lovely picture you have of you and your partner!
Thanks for sharing!
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Anger and screaming never solve problems, does it? I find by being calm, I get much better results, and…remembering to say “please”, and “thank you”.
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@Ms Panther – that would be interesting!
@Shamelle – good to see you again! …all the best with it. I think that for me, it helps me settle my emotions.
@Evelyn – thanks – about the questions and the picture (I think it could be a better photo of Frank – it’s not that easy to get one that is OK for both of us.)
@Barbara – thanks for sharing your “tricks” with us! I find keeping calm helps, too.
Hi Robin – there’s always growing pains when it comes to couples, but they eventually become closer in the end.
I like your exercise because I think it’s a healthy approach to dealing with the growing pain.
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Dear robin, thank you for inspiring me with that technique. One way or another, our energy brought us into that situation, we don’t like. If we are open for an honest answer, we might grow and get again more control. Thank you….
hey robin, i love this post. you know what it reminds me of? well no you don’t, lol. it reminds me of a book i read when i had my child: how to behave so your children will too. it focused on what you were putting out there that causes your children to react a certain way. often times it was parents being inconsistent and then changing the rules in a drastic way. so like your hubby, hypothetically speaking, if he continued to do something you didn’t like and you never said anything then all of a sudden you blew up at him, how do you think he’s going to react. he was used to you never saying anything before. my magic trick is to speak up as soon as possible and try work out the problem, not the symptoms.
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My partner is a Libra and he avoids confrontation. My current pet peeve is that when I ask him if he wants to do something, i.e., play cards or watch a movie, sometimes his response is, “I don’t know.”
It’s a passive aggressive way of saying No. I don’t have any tricks that I use. I keep the lines of communication open. When he answers “I don’t know,” I remind him that it’s ok to say no.
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Hi Robin: I think your approach works well in many situations, not just relationships. I also think that taking responsibility is really empowering because it makes you see that what happens to you is a result of something that you’re doing. Therefore, if you don’t like the results you’re getting, change what you’re doing. People who are close to us tend to mirror back what we’re thinking about ourselves in our head.
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Hi Robin – I must admit, I had very low expectations the first time round and low self esteem too.
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@Al – that’s an interesting way of putting it! Our relationship has definitely grown – any issues we have seem to be dealt with fairly easily, these days.
@rainer – thanks Ray – I really appreciate you saying that. And that’s a good way of putting it.
@Natural – Thanks! – I think they are great insights you’ve got there – I think many people don’t realise the one about kids. And thanks for your magic trick (I use that one too).
@Davina – keeping the lines of communication open sounds like a good trick to me. I think understanding the other person’s issues can help too – it can help us deal with things more objectively (as long as we keep acknowledging the fact we have attracted a person with those issues).
@Marelisa – yes you’re quite right – I actually came across, and used, these ideas long before I had a partner. And dealing with things in this way gives us our power back – thanks for your insights!
@Cath – yeah – I’m amazed when I look at some of the things I attracted in the past. What was I thinking! (I think it also helps to look at the good things we attracted, to see how we CAN do it right).
This is my most favorite post from you. What a beautiful thought to reflect upon ourselves every time we find a setback. You are so right that we can only control our behavior and we should always be mindful about that. Complaining and whining about the actions of others can never bring a change that we need to become happier.
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HI Robin ~ This is a great approach that I’m going to try in my various relationships. It’s a good way to learn about oneself because it puts you in a position of self-reflection that you may not have otherwise considered. Thanks for the post.
This is a beautiful post with a beautiful idea. I will definately try this out. I usually ask myself what can I do make things better.
@Shilpan – Whaaaat Shilpan! You didn’t like the other posts (much)?! (just kidding) Great to see you back – and thanks for your insights – and thanks for the stumbly-review.
@Laurie – hi, and welcome! That’s a good way of putting it, I think. Thanks.
@Avani-Mehta – and welcome to you too! Thanks for your beautiful comment!
Hi Robin. This definitely makes sense. It’s easy to see how other couples get into ruts in terms of action-reaction, much more difficult when it comes to ourselves. There’s a difference between asking myself what I’ve done to attract this situation vs. blaming myself or the other person for it. Looking at the situation in the way you suggest is to begin breaking the negative pattern.
Relationships are a lot of work, but they’re worth it.
When we ask ourselves how can we change instead of the person that we are in the relationship with, it makes for personal growth instead of constant pain. I like to use this technique when there are dishes in the sink. I try to either accept them, ask her to do it or clean them myself. All depending on my mood.
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Sharing you own experience is excellent. Great.
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@Bill – I agree with you about relationships – they are utterly and entirely worth it (as long as the connection is a healthy one). And thanks for bringing up the point that there is a difference between taking responsibility for something and blaming yourself.
@Karl – Hi there and welcome! Yes – I think you’re right when you say “When we ask ourselves how can we change instead of the person that we are in the relationship with, it makes for personal growth instead of constant pain.” And thanks for sharing your technique!
@Rajesh – Hi and welcome to this blog! Thanks for your comment – I appreciate it.
Robin, I swear I knew you were an Australian as soon as I saw your photo. Don’t know why, but it was an instant thought. Maybe it’s my trusty intuition – I can pick a fellow Aussie and Kiwi in a crowd of other nationalities, even without hearing an accent.
But back to this post, love the picture of you and Frank. You look sos serene – really beautiful energy there. And I use your trick too. I call it the mirror. I’ve had a lot of frustrations with my family over the years and I’ve used this technique to move our relationship to a level where I don’t feel like my emotions are at their mercy.
I also find boundaries and expectations are important, particularly in romantic partnerships. My husband has a tendency to be very messy and create chaos wherever he goes. For years this drove me nuts and I would rail against him because I felt like he was treating me like a slave. Then one day it hit me (I did have a great transformational therapist help me get to this point) nobody forces me to clean up his mess and care for him like another child. I am choosing to because somewhere inside I think I should, and I nag rather than set boundaries for what I will and WILL NOT do.
Now if my husband is getting too sloppy and I feel taken for granted I just tell him and ask for his assistance. If he doesn’t clean up, then I don’t either. In fact, I have stopped doing EVERYTHING before. I didn’t cook him dinner, wash his work shirts, nothing. He noticed, asked what was going on and I calmly pointed out that I had already told him how I felt and been ignored, so I was now also going the ignoring route. He got the message and has been heaps better ever since. Now we mostly just laugh about his messiness and the fact that the house is always chaos on Sunday after two days of him being home!
On that note, I really need to go tidy up a bit. The floor’s disappearing.
Hi Kelly – I wish I could be more specific about our relationship on this blog – but that wouldn’t be fair on Frank! I do find I am more free and easy about it when I write on other people’s blogs! ;=) It’s really great to hear about your relationship – and FANTASTIC to hear about how this mirror technique has been working for you! And all the best with the floor! (and thanks about the pic)
This post reminds me of The Work from Byron Katie. There is definitely something powerful (and magickal) in turning situations “on their head” and figuring out how to get better results by focusing on your own interpretations and reactions to the events in your life. We cannot control the actions of other people, but we can control how those actions affect us.
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every time my partner does something annoying, i compromise because i do not want to hurt him but i do not want to compromise anymore. i want to come out and tell him straight in the face but i always get scared and ask myself ‘what if he calls me a nagging or ever complaining partner’ or ‘what if i lose him at that?’ honesty is jst so hard. how do you do it Robin?