THANK YOU to ELISA LEVY for permission to reprint her article.

Note To Reader:
This is an excellent article that deserves thoughtful reading.
Because of its length, we have posted it in three parts.

Part 1
Building relationships with people who really matter to you...

The most important relationships in our lives can also be the ones that bring us the most pain. Conflict with a spouse, a family member or a long-time friend can feel unbearable. The more we care, the deeper we hurt; and most of the time these aren’t relationships we are willing or able to give up.

There are some relationships that truly can’t get better, so how do you know if there’s even a possibility for the relationship to improve? Start by asking yourself a few key questions:

What’s my part in the problem? A relationship is a dynamic between two people and most of the time, both parties must take ownership. If you find that you can’t communicate with your teen-aged child, or your spouse, ask yourself what you are doing or not doing to contribute to that problem.

Remember that the behavior that bothers the other person may work well for you in other relationships. For example, you may have a blunt style of speaking and while some people appreciate that about you, others will not. Figuring out your part of the problem doesn’t mean you are doing something bad or wrong; it just means that it doesn’t work in this particular relationship.

Is there anything I could do differently to change the dynamic?
Use this as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas. Think about other relationships that this person has in which the dynamic is positive. Ask yourself what’s different about it, and if you could change some of your behaviors to meet their needs.

This exercise can be tricky because most of us don’t feel like we should have to change for others. The blunt person might think, “I’m not going to tiptoe around that person. She’ll just have to deal with me the way I am.” If you catch yourself thinking that way, go to question Number Three.

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