One of the first things we learn about having a successful relationship is that there needs to be healthy, proactive communication. Though, because we are all human, sometimes there is a lapse in this proactivity. You can’t turn back time to fix a mistake, but what you can do is aid in the healing of the situation at hand. One way to do this is to be accountable for your part of the relationship.
There are many things to be accountable for in a relationship, such as:
- Your actions: Acknowledge what you did so that you can move forward with your partner.
- Your words: The things you said can hurt just as much as your actions. Remain accountable for even the small things that may have distressed your partner.
- Your feelings: Take responsibility of yourself, own your feelings. Express to your partner how you are feeling in regards to a certain situation.
Accountability is more than being responsible for what you did, you can also be accountable for what you did not do. Some examples of this could be that you forgot to pick up more milk before you came home from work, you forgot to ask your partner about his/her first day of their important promotion, or you forgot to tell your partner you loved them before they left for the day. Keep in mind, accountability is about taking action, being reactive to a situation where there was a lapse in proactivity.
You also need to be accountable for the feelings you did not communicate with your partner. If your partner didn’t put the clothes in the dryer like you asked, and you never communicated that you felt bitter when you came home and found the wet clothes still in the washing machine, both of you will be unable to resolve the conflict and unable to bring the cycle to a halt (no pun intended).
The only way to stop an occurrence from repeating itself is to make a change, and the first step in making a change is to address where it went wrong – to hold yourself accountable for your actions, or lack thereof. It’s important to remember that accountability is about your responsibility, don’t place blame. I repeat: don’t place blame. Don’t place blame on others, including your partner. Don’t place blame on other events that occurred. Accountability is about holding yourself entirely accountable. Placing part of the blame on your partner is still placing blame.
Since relationships are two way streets, both partners need to remain accountable in a relationship. If you notice a lapse in judgement on either side, be transparent. Make your partner your “accountabilibuddy.” Use “I” statements to express the lack of proactivity. An example of this would be, “I felt neglected when you forgot to remove the wet clothes from the washing machine.” When you use “I” statements, it opens up a prosperous path for communication. You are holding yourself accountable for your feelings.
Remember, holding yourself accountable is a learning process, so if you are on the receiving end of your accountabilibuddy’s “I” statement, own up to your actions or forgetfulness as well. Nurture the path he/she created and begin the healing process by holding yourself accountable. Don’t place blame. Move forward together. Be each other’s accountabilibuddies.