Friday, April 20, 2007

An Insight into Relationships

What keeps people locked into a bad relationship?

Have you ever broken up with someone with whom you have had an argumentative relationship over a period of time? You feel “thank God, what a relief! I can now live in peace!” And you feel that having left the toxic relationship behind, you are liberated from the pain you were experiencing.

Then some time later you decide to touch base with that same person because you assume that meeting with him/her won’t be a problem. But then there is a surprise: you suddenly find yourself locked into the same patterns of dispute. It is as though no time at all has lapsed, and the same-old, same-old has not changed. What happened?

You need to realize that relationships have their patterns, in which you and your partner exchange cues to which you have an automatic response. Such a cue can be an irritating word or phrase to which your partner responds with a counter-punch, which then becomes a cue for you to do the same, and lo and behold you are back in the same scenario you thought you had gotten out of.

Is there a basic mechanism that drives dysfunctional relationships?

Painful relationships always have a pattern of knee-jerk reactions that do nothing more than keep the participants locked into whatever the pattern is. For example one partner says to the other “You are always contradicting what I say.” The second partner then defends him/herself with a counter-accusation, setting off a never-ending repartee of blame. The funny thing is that each time a battle begins, the two who are in it act as though it were a brand new fight, each one believing that victory is just around the corner. An experienced observer, however, knows that as much as these battles repeated there is never a victory.

Is there a way to escape from the scenario other than leaving the relationship?

Yes, there is. The partners in the relationship know how to play their roles because they have played them again and again, but oddly enough they don’t really know the nature of their script. A good relationship coach will be able to identify the scenario and help clients see what cues they are getting and/or giving and how they are responding. Once the cues have been recognized the client can then work with options for removing or exchanging them and open the door to creative, positive experiences.

How do you do it?

Working with a good life/relationship coach will allow you to see your situation from angles you may not have known existed. Understanding what is happening leads to a new freedom through which you have new choices. If you want to know more, you can contact me at


hassan said...

Many a true word, that is!
Howard, what you describe here seems the problem's essence of relationships.
Its often these little things in everyday life that haunt us.
I remember the argument with my wife on "how to squeeze a tube of mustard."
Then we found out we had inherited this "pattern" from our fathers who did it very differently!
A ridiculous detail, but strong ammunition for this game of "who is right?"
You helped me understand this even better now!
Thank you.
I wished I were as lucky as those people who can arrange to meet you for a personal coaching in your vicinity!

brigitte said...

Wonderfully insightful, as all your coaching work tends to be. To anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with Howard and his work, let me just say from personal experience and from friends' reports that Howard has a great deal to offer through his coaching and has helped many people make real changes in their lives.

William said...

Hi Howard,

Thank you for sharing this great info.
Very interesting and very true!!
The most common root causes of the arguments in relationships and in general communications are usually lacks of RESPECT and OPEN MIND, as well as lack of KNOWLEDGE.
If everyone could be relax and not take things too seriously, lives would be so peaceful and much more happiness.
Ground rules and ethics are also needed to be reminded in every situation or event to solve any issues/problems more efficiently and effectively.
Just my two cents, hope it would lead us all to be better communicators as well as to have better lives and realize our dreams into reality ... haha =)

Love, Peace & Blessings,
William ^.^

ps. Here is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Theresa:
Spread LOV3 everywhere you go, let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's Love and Kindness thru your loving eyes, friendly smiles, warm greetings, and all your ACTIONS.