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To succeed in our relationships ... we must learn to recognize and deal with the hidden relationship-destroying patterns within us. Not only must we know how to deal with these patterns in ourselves, but we must also know how to deal with similar patterns in other people as well.
... Take the issue of control, for instance. Much of our relationship stress comes from our conscious and unconscious efforts to change or control other people. We want others to behave in certain ways, and when we can't get them to, we become angry and resentful. The more we try to change them and fail, the more angry, frustrated, and depressed we are likely to become.
When we "fall in love" with someone, we often hope that their strengths and talents will become available to us, and that we can contribute our strengths and abilities in return. ...
Like a person who knows he or she is blind, we often hook up with others who can function as "seeing-eye dogs" for us in life. When we find someone who can fill this valuable role, we tend to marry them to keep them around.
But then a very curious pattern emerges. This is the pattern I call KICKING YOUR SEEING-EYE DOG. Often, it begins very slowly, but eventually it becomes full-blown and threatens the survival of the relationship.
KICKING YOUR SEEING-EYE DOG is the pattern whereby you try to change or mold your partner into someone who thinks, feels, and acts just like you.
Instead of respecting and appreciating your partner's differences, you begin to judge them negatively for being the way they are.
Instead of keeping yourself open to what their differences have to offer you, you embark upon a foolish and futile project to change them to be the way you like.
This very common pattern makes no sense at all.
Indeed, if we were aware of it, we would stop it very quickly. It's as though one day we recognize we are "blind," so we go out and find a seeing-eye dog to be our partner.
Then, we bring the dog home and every time it tries to pull us in a certain direction, we kick it for disturbing us. This is exactly what we do to our spouses and other loved ones. No wonder they resent us and claim, quite correctly, that we don't respect or appreciate them.