A therapist once told me a relationship is like baking a cake. By adding something bad to the cake mix, we may be harming our partner but we are ultimately harming ourselves. We share the cake so anything added to it is something we have to deal with as well. I thought this analogy was great for control in relationships. We can only control what we add to the cake.
Negativity and ineffectiveness will affect us as well as our partner. The cake will only turn out well if the two bakers are following the same recipe. We all have our own unique ideas and ways of handling conflict and disagreements but the goal in a relationship must be the same; to resolve situations, to promote growth in the relationship and to demonstrate respect. It is important to consider a relationship as a partnership. Tackling an argument or issue as the two of you vs. the problem as opposed to you vs. your partner is a much healthier way to solve any issue and in the end will accomplish all those things.
This however can be very difficult to do. If we express a viewpoint that isn’t met with agreement, we may be tempted to focus on changing our partner’s mind instead of finding a compromise. That being said, if the disagreement is based on your fundamental values, there may be merit in considering if this partnership is right for you. In other circumstances, you can remember that your partner likely is in the same situation. They are hoping to change your perspective and for you to accept theirs. Working together is key. Follow the recipe together, perhaps adding little personal touches, but essentially working toward the same cake.
Remember that you can only control your actions and reactions. It’s important to be a positive force in the relationship and add to its growth and progress. In saying that, as I mentioned above, it’s also important to set personal boundaries and determine when a relationship is no longer healthy for you.
It takes communication, it takes empathy and understanding. It also take a dedication to the relationship and a desire to grow together and not apart. As long as the relationship is something you want to invest in, be mindful of what you’re adding to the cake!