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You can improve any relationship by understanding three simple words. This small sentence is the basis of a principle that will affect your friendships, marriage, or any relationship and move it toward a healthy future. However, the opposite is also true. If you fail to understand these three words, your relationship will inevitably head in the wrong direction. What are the three words?

Do your part.

You’re probably thinking, “What? How can those words be that important?” Let me explain. When things start to get rough in a relationship our first inclination is to blame our partner. This actually only makes the situation worse because our partner, who defaults to the same position, becomes defensive and the distance and hurt between the two of you becomes greater. Blaming each other, regardless of the truth, will not heal your relationship. Blame and “you” statements (such as “You never ______!” or “You always ______!”) are toxic to any relationship.

This brings us to “do your part” as one solution for moving a relationship to a healthy place. Every relationship has two people who can each affect its direction in a positive or negative way. By embracing this principle, you are taking personal responsibility for your part in the relationship and choosing to make that impact a positive one. Doing your part can happen in many different ways. Examining your own actions and looking for ways to change them or attending workshops to better your own personal and relationship skills are great places to start. When you choose to “do your part,” you are communicating to your partner how important the relationship is to you and therefore how important they are to you. You may also find that as you “do your part,” your partner will begin to “do their part.”

Conflicts can be quickly diffused when one person takes responsibility for their part and works to make changes. It has the effect of causing the other person to do the same. The result is that both are now able to work together to improve the relationship. Does this always happen? Unfortunately no, however, even if you are the only one doing your part the relationship will make progress. There are many other skills you can use to improve your relationships, but understanding this principle will provide a basis on which all other skills depend. Will you “do your part?”

rico-figueroaby Rico Figueroa
Vice President, The Center for Relationship Education