Why The Golden Rule Does Not Always Work in Relationships

Have you ever wondered why you try and try to do the right thing in your relationship, yet your significant other never seems to recognize your efforts? Or even seems to be annoyed with your actions?

I see this all of the time with the couples that I work with. It’s a very common misconception that the “golden rule” works every time and with everyone. And, this misconception causes a lot of problems.

While its intentions are good, in using this rule, we forget that we are all different people with different motivations, interests, desires, etc. In short, we all like different things. When you consider that in relationships, we are typically attracted to someone with an opposite personality, using the “golden rule” just doesn’t work. It can cause feelings of frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness. We are trying SO HARD in the relationship, and it just isn’t getting better.

An example of this is the couple where one individual (A) values space and autonomy more than the other  (B)(who typically prefers closeness and frequent intimacy).  Person A will give “all the space” to Person B when Person B is triggered by a stressful event. This space makes Person B even more upset. Alternatively, when Person A is under stress, Person B might ask lots of questions and become physically close, making Person B feel smothered and uncomfortable.

In either situation, both parties feel negative emotions and the distance in their relationship grows.

A wonderful book on the subject is called “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It goes into greater detail about the type of “languages” (how we like to be loved) and how to use this to improve your relationship.

I work with many couples on this issue and many other relational themes that are getting in the way of happiness and relationship satisfaction.

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