Relationship Reality Repair
Bill Cottringer

“Man is a knot into which relationships are tied.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Successful relationships are all about keeping things in proper perspective. This is especially true about the different perceptions of the realities of the relationship, and what happens when the water starts getting a little rough on its way to being a tsunami.

People get drawn into relationships for many different reasons (some overlapping), and of course it is best if these reasons are mutual, whatever they may be:

• Following up a mysterious spark of passion or magical chemistry attraction.
• Liking each other and letting it gradually grow into love.
• Being part of an “arranged” marriage in cultures that do that.
• Coming off the rebound.
• Stumbling upon your true love or love soul mate by serendipity.
• Out of utility in liking and needing what you each bring into the relationship and not disliking the baggage too much.
• Closeness in situations like family, work, neighborhoods, meetings or parties.
• For more practical considerations like finances, fear of being alone, important compatibilities, medical insurance, power, etc.

There are two important perspectives that, when out of focus or sync, bring an unraveling of a relationship (or making the knot too tight). This holds true whether it be a marriage, domestic partnership, family interaction, friendship or work relationship. These two key perspectives, which should be mutual for best results, are:

The Main Purpose of the Relationship:

Whenever there is trouble or a problem with a reality you are part of, it is always useful to stop and remember why you are where you are and doing what you’re doing, in remembering what your purpose was in getting there. The main purpose of any relationship is to give you the opportunity to get further in your growth journey and more of what you want in life, together—meeting life’s challenges and being successful and happy in doing so—than each of you could accomplish alone.

One of the main benefits of this purpose is that you get to “double your joys and halve your sorrows” and that is a very good deal in today’s economy! Of course this doesn’t just happen by chance without a whole lot of hard work to see and remember this main purpose by dealing assertively with the differences in getting there, which inevitably pop up along the way. This is the real land of simple that Oliver Wendell Holmes was referring to in his famous quote, “I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I’d give my life for the simplicity just on the other side of complexity.”

How You See & Deal with Different Viewpoints:

The main concerns of getting the proper perspectives on differences are:

• Is there agreement as to what the real differences are?
• Is there agreement as to how important these differences are (in the big scheme of things)?
• Is there agreement as to what the successful resolution is, or how to deal with these differences—what to tolerate and accept and how much, and what to change and how much?

Obviously, there are better situations in which a relationship starts and it is difficult to deny the truth in Michelangelo’s prediction of “what begins right has a better chance of ending right.” Having the right purpose for the relationship and agreeing on it makes for a much more comfortable and productive relationship. But then again, one of my best friends who wasn’t in a relationship at the time and envious of mine even though it was very rocky, reminded me about what he missed most “it is stretching and defining the boundaries in a relationship that makes us feel most alive.”

And, the bottom line is—It doesn’t mean you can’t discover what that right purpose is after-the-fact with some hard work and difficult conversations. It just depends on how far apart you are in your perceptions of the realities of these differences and how much effort and time you are willing to donate to closing the gap. The wonderful part of that dilemma is that there is always an opportunity to make things better than they may be in the relationship, whatever the circumstances or the perceptions may be. You just can’t assume the truth of something until you know it.

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” ~Henry Winkler

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or