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Relationship Problems: Whats Your Contribution?

As the story goes, there was once a farmer and his family. They lived in and farmed a huge and gorgeous valley, right next to an equally huge and gorgeous mountain range.

Each year as the seasons turned into late summer and early fall, the farmer and his sons would begin to store their barns with hay for the winter. Some years they stored just a little for the winter, some years they stored much more.

One year, they began to store hay earlier than ever before. The farmer told his sons that it was going to be a very long and cold winter. As each week began, the farmer would instruct his sons to store more and more, and even more hay.

And then as they got further and further into the fall, the farmer and his sons doubled the amount of hay they stored in the barn.

The father said "Sons ,we've got to store more hay than ever before. It's going to be a winter like we have never seen."

One son, being just a bit tired of storing more and more hay, asked the father how he could know that it was going to be a more difficult winter than ever before. The father replied, "Son, you are now old enough for me to tell you the secret of how I know how difficult a winter it will be. Each year, I look up on the great mountain where the Indians live. On the mountain, the Indians store wood for the winter. Some years, in mild winters, they store just a little. Other years, in particularly harsh winters, they store much more.

So I know how cold the winter is going to be by watching how much wood the Indians store away. Now that you know my secret, let's get to work, because the Indians just put away more wood yesterday."

Another son, being fed up with storing so much hay, took one of his younger brothers on a journey up to the mountains to speak with the Indians.

When they arrived, they approached the chief of the tribe and asked him why he was putting away so much wood this year. To which the chief replied,

"This is an ancient Indian custom. We always know how cold the winter will be by watching the farmer in the valley. The colder the winter will be, the more hay the farmer puts away!"

What is Your Contribution?

Both the Indian and the farmer were simply reacting to each other, believing that each one was the source of the need to prepare the winter.

And so it goes in many of our relationships. Whether it is in friendship, marriage, family, or the work environment, we are prone to blame others for the way we behave in the relationship.

The line goes something like this,

"If only they would do (blank), then I would stop (or start) doing (blank)."

So the question then becomes, as in the farmer-Indian story, what is your contribution?

Do you do any of the following:

=>Expect too much.

=>Expect too little.

=>Have a preconceived bias against the other person.

=>Misinterpret something they have said or done and then fail to check out your perception.

=>Expect/demand the other person to change first.

=>Expect/demand your own way.

=>Do the silent treatment or some other way of shutting the other person out.

So what to do? Three steps:

1) Identify your contribution.

2) Take responsibility for it, whether you like it or not.

3) Change your contribution.

Ready for the bottom line folks? Change your contribution, and you can not only solve the problem, you can change and improve the relationship.

Jeff Herring is a Relationship Coach, Speaker, and Syndicated Relationship Columnist. Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for more relationship tips and tools, a f'ree e-zine and f'ree e-programs to enrich your relationship.

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