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The Secret of Relationship Success

By Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

With a divorce rate in this country that approaches 50%, and a fairly sizable percentage of marriages that arenít particularly blissful, itís difficult to avoid searching for the answer to the battle of the sexes.

Would you like to stop searching?

Weíve moved through the old paradigm of getting your needs met in relationships, and it has proven itself to be a miserable failure.


Attempting to get your needs met in your relationship causes some troublesome things to happen. First, it causes you to focus mainly on your needs and not on the desires of your partner. Secondly, it sets you up for disaster, because it has you believing you deserve something that may well not be delivered.

All across this great country of ours, battles are raging between men and women: she needs to talk and connect, and he needs his space and independence.

Who wins here?

The answer, of course, is that both lose because of a flawed view of what a successful relationship is all about. What also happens is that both people start to blame the other for not meeting their needs.

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For those who are really serious about success in their relationships, itís important to understand how blaming your partner is an enormous problem itself. It creates a bigger problem, and has you convinced that youíre not part of the problem.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Blaming has never worked and never will. It may have you feeling justified in your position, but it will always hurt your relationship.

Itís particularly important to develop the realization that your feelings can deceive you in your relationship with your partner. This can be difficult for people raised during the ďhonor your feelingsĒ era of relationships. Your feelings tell you things like, ďI canít believe she could do something like that to me,Ē or, ďHow could she treat me so badly?Ē These feelings are the result of your own low self-esteem and your own personal history of victimization.

While itís true that your partner may treat you in a way you donít like sometimes, itís not true that you need to react to it with strong negative feelings. These strong negative feelings are a reflection of your own esteem issues.

These feelings also have a way of keeping your partner engaged in the struggle with you so that you can continue to blame each other. When youíre both engaged in the struggle, youíll believe that she needs to be fixed. Sheíll think the same of you. Nobody wins and everybody loses.

This isnít very smart or effective.

What would happen for people in their important relationships if they gave up defending themselves and believing their needs needed to be met? What would happen if they worked at being kind and caring with their partners?

Iíll tell you what would happen. Theyíd have great relationships! After all, the only thing that you can do to improve a relationship is to improve you.

So stop looking over at your partner and seeing all of the flaws. Stop blaming them. They have issues just like we all do. But if you see that person as a collection of flaws, youíll have no chance at a successful relationship.

And itís successful relationships in life that make us truly happy.

© Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers". For more great tips and action steps for fathers, sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids, at


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