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Why Do I Have To Do All the Work in This Relationship?

The downside of "What's in it for me?"

As a family and couples psychologist, I often hear frustrated people ask, "Why should I have to do all the work? Why am I the one who has to give in to make this relationship better?

My response is, "Don't go down that road. "

Let me offer you the wisdom of Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, to support my point. He talks about the idea of "inside out versus outside in." Covey means that you should not worry about waiting for others to change for you, but instead make the changes for yourself. He also means that you should do for others instead of waiting for them to do for you. It is very likely that your partner will respond positively to your own work. Give it some time.

Operating with the What's in it for me? mindset sets you up for toxic thinking, as I discussed in my last blog entitled, Do You Have Any of These Toxic Thoughts in Your Relationship?. As I wrote in my book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, toxic thinking in relationships leads to big headaches. It tricks you into thinking that your partner doesn't do anything for you or the good of the relationship. You may toxically label him or her as uncaring, loving, affectionate, boring, thoughtless, or inattentive. You may see yourself as the one doing everything for the good of the relationship. But when you take this attitude, you failed to see how you influence (but do not cause) your partner's behavior. The bottom line is that each individual is responsible for his or her own behavior. Specifically, you failed to see how your own toxic thinking influences your partner's behavior. You failed to see how it takes two to make a relationship and two to break it.

Relationships have a very difficult time surviving and thriving when the partners are immature, self-centered, and only see how they are affected. Remember, be mindful me and be aware that all your thoughts and behaviors impact and affect your relationship – for better or worse.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 23 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Why Can't You Read My Mind? , and Liking the Child You Love, Perseus Books 2009).

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