Barbara L. Green, LCSW



"I'm beginning to think my wife is a fundamentally weak person."

confessed Tom uncomfortably. He was not usually critical of his partner and yet this fear gnawed at him. He expressed his concern that Sarah did not handle adversity well and seemed to collapse when faced with difficult tasks. He often felt burdened and alone when they needed to make joint decisions. While Tom would carefully analyze the pros and cons of a decision; Sarah would tend to get overwhelmed and withdraw at these times. Tom loved his wife and admired many things about her, however, over the years this "fear of her weakness" was turning into resentment. 

Keep in mind:

1. Each of us comes into an adult relationship with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. We usually choose partners with different strengths and weaknesses than our own. Hugh Prather, poet and author, once said, "You will not be able to see the diamond in your partner, until you polish off all your own rough edges".

2. It is not necessary, nor even wise, to discuss every negative feeling you have about your partner. If, however, a negative theme is emerging it is usually best to bring it out in the open. Silent resentment is potentially more toxic than a frustration you can talk about.

3. Learning to navigate difficult issues is a hallmark of a mature relationship.

4. Labeling your partner with terms like "weak", "lazy", "selfish" always creates defensiveness and rarely produce change.

5. All relationship conflicts have 2 sides. Tom's analytical style may be intimidating to Sarah. She may feel that he makes decisions efficiently, but not thoughtfully. If Tom wants more of Sarah's input he may have to modify his own decision making style.