Relationships -- Cooperation vs. Competition

by T.W. Winslow

When we fall into the trap of finger pointing, we need to ask ourselves, what are we trying to accomplish? Are we really attempting to help our partner or are we just taking our frustrations out on them? By playing the blame game, we're basically telling our partners they aren't good enough -- that they are wrong and we are right.

If this is allowed to continue, at some point they'll eventually reach their breaking point. When this happens, we can expect two things. First, they will simply agree with us, "Yes, you're right and I'm wrong." The second thing that will happen is they'll close the door behind them and never return.

A Helpful Technique
Keeping score and playing the blame game are only two of many things that discourage cooperation and breed competition. I'm sure if you think about it, you can identify several things which you and/or your partner do which interjects competition into your relationship.
One relationship expert suggests doing the following:
(Note: In this exercise, you do not need to show your lists to each other -- unless you both decide to do so.)
Take out paper and pen and, working separately, each of you write down five things which you dislike about your partner. (Things about them, things that they do, don't do, etc.). 

This should be done quickly, only give yourselves a minute or two to complete your lists. Just write down the first thing that comes to mind.

Now, each of you make a list of five things that you love about your partner. Again, do this quickly and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

Once you've both finished (or time has run out), talk about which list was easier to make. What you'll find (I hope), is the second list was much easier to make
Then, ask yourselves which of the two lists do you spend the most time focusing on in your relationship? Most people find it is the first list.

Now ask yourselves which of the two lists are more important?
This should give you both something to think about. If list number two was the easiest to make and is the most important, then do the things in list number one really matter? If not, let those things go and start focusing your attention and energy on those things that are positive and bring love and happiness into your relationship.

Someone once said, "You're either part of the problem or part of the solution." It's up to each of us to take an active role in our relationships. Do away with those things which are destructive. Remove the elements of competition and focus on those things which promote cooperation. As a daily reminder, you might want to save the second list you made and put it in a place where you'll be sure to see it every day. 

© 2001 T.W. Winslow