Relationship problems can be rooted in your attempt to control your partner's behavior. Experts agree that attempting to mold your partner into the ideal you have for them rarely works in the long run. Resentment will build. Anxiety and depression will ensue, and sometimes even violence will be perpetrated. This does not mean that two people should not compromise and work toward each other. I've always said that relationships require both effort and effortless ease. However, when there is too much control exerted by one partner over the other it can cause problems and interfere with a genuine, healthy relationship.
Eminent psychotherapist Fritz Perls acknowledged this ethos in what is known as the Gestalt Prayer:
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.
Of course, one has to be cautious about summarily dismissing your partner's perspective and doing your own thing. That is not the point of the Gestalt Prayer. Even if you find your so-called soulmate your relationship will take work, compromise, and the capacity to understand your partner's perspective. The point is to let go and trust that by working on fulfilling your own needs, and setting your own boundaries for your partner's expectations of you, you will bring about a healthier, more genuine relationship with your partner. If your partner cannot accept that change or becomes anxious about it then it might be time to consider psychotherapy to best learn how to navigate the path ahead.
Post by Stefan C. Dombrowski, Ph.D.