Sometimes a Problem Doesn’t Have to Be



That we are certain to have difficulties in

relationships is so obvious it goes almost without

saying.  When two different personalities come together to

try to accomplish anything there is bound to be some conflict

and tension.

Difficulties are normal and predictable.  It is when

they are mishandled that generic difficulties become

“problems”.  Often, it is the “solution” imposed on a

difficulty that becomes the “problem.”

In marriage therapy, we see spouses reacting in ways

they consider appropriate in light of something the other

spouse is “doing wrong”.  This can become a chain reaction

adding up to a serious impasse.  Let’s see how this works.

John Doe earns, spends and invests his money without

consulting Jane.  Since he earns most of the money, spends

and invests wisely, and considers himself the “brains” of the

family, he doesn’t see the “difficulty.”  But Jane does.

She thinks John is hiding things from her.  She resents

not being included.  So, she begins snooping in John’s desk,

looking for receipts, statements, evidence.  John notices

this, resents it and begins hiding things.

The resentment and suspicion grow and spill over into

other areas of their life.  Now we have a impasse caused by a

series of mishandled difficulties.  The applied solutions,

snooping and hiding, have become “the problem”.

Instead of snooping into John’s “private” affairs, Jane

should have requested more sharing.  Instead of hiding things

from her, John should have addressed Jane’s desire to be

included.  Action was taken at the wrong level.

Other ways of making a “difficulty” into a “problem”

include not taking action when action is needed (denial) or

taking action when no action is needed (over-reacting).

When a “solution” isn’t working, don’t apply it harder.

You might be creating a “problem”.  Instead, get some new

tools.  If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a

nail.  Some things don’t like to be pounded.  Try screwing,

plying and wrenching.  Apply warm oil and gentle, firm

pressure.  When all else fails, ask nicely.




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